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Bar-i Liquor Inventory Blog

4 Tips to Improve Staff Accountability at Your Bar

There are many factors involved in maximizing the profitability of your bar. One of the most important is maintaining a high level of accountability with your bar staff. When we talk about accountability, we’re referring to the extent which your staff rings in all items that are sold. When accountability is high, it will significantly reduce your liquor cost and improve your profits. However, when accountability is low, it is a sign that you’re experiencing a high level of inventory shrinkage, which will ultimately eat away at your profit margin.

At Bar-i, our services go way beyond simply counting your inventory and calculating your liquor cost. We work closely with you to identify specific products that are performing poorly in order to improve accountability and maximize your profits.

It’s important to understand that while the data we provide you is an important tool that will help you identify areas for improvement, you won’t experience this improvement in performance unless you use the data to influence your actions, particularly as they relate to your bar staff.

4 Tips to Improve Staff Accountability at Your BarThere are 4 crucial elements in the process of increasing the accountability of your bar staff:

  • Communication with Bar-i – This will help ensure the results you receive from our inventory audits are accurate.

  • Communication with staff – You need to make it clear to your staff that getting good results is important to you. Clear communication is essential for getting your staff to understand this initiative must be taken seriously.

  • Rewards and corrective actions – In general, we don’t recommend punishing employees since constant punishment can create a negative or toxic environment for your staff. Instead, we prefer to start by offering a baseline level of privileges and then reward your staff with extra privileges when they are performing well. This creates a much more positive atmosphere than punishing your staff for poor performance.

  • Reward schedule template – Establishing reward structure that is consistent and easy for your staff to understand will significantly improve accountability over time.

Communication with Bar-i

The first step to improving accountability is to ensure that your inventory audit results are accurate. This requires actively investigating specific variances on every completed inventory cycle to either confirm the results or identify required updates.

To accomplish this goal, it’s important that you communicate with Bar-I using written notes every single time we perform an audit. The important items that require your diligent communication include:

  • Recipe sign-off – In order to precisely compare what was poured vs. what was sold, Bar-i will write recipes for every button on your POS system. It’s important that you check all existing recipes for accuracy and note any adjustments that are necessary. This will ensure all recipes are correct, which allows us to provide the most accurate results possible. It will also give you more confidence in the results we provide.

  • Invoices – Each inventory cycle, we’ll review your invoices in order to determine exactly how much product you should have on hand. Please make sure that all invoices are consistently available for Bar-i, and it’s important that you adhere to the method and timing for delivering these invoices that is initially agreed upon with your account manager.

  • Communication log – Make sure that a communication log is always available for your bar staff during every shift. This log should be used to note required adjustments, transfers, substitutions, and any other information that will help us arrive at accurate audit results.

    Your staff should always write entries in the communication log at the time there is something to note instead of waiting until the end of the week to document any issues. This will ensure everything gets recorded accurately. If you wait until the end of the week to update the communication log, you run the risk of either forgetting to record important items or recording these items incorrectly.

  • Deliveries checked and marked – All delivery invoices should be checked for accuracy, marked line by line to confirm arrivals, and signed with the name of the checker. It’s important to maintain a consistent system for checking in deliveries in order to ensure proper accountability.

  • Recipe updates – In order to ensure your audit results are accurate, you will need to communicate all recipe changes or updates prior to the day we perform your audit. These updates can be communicated via email or the communication log.

  • Review reports – You will need to check each audit report for accuracy and report any questions or errors to Bar-i so that they can be addressed. Once you’ve completed the initial setup, the best way to identify errors is by checking the data we provide to you following an audit.

    You can always request a variance report to gain additional detail regarding these errors. When you see errors in your reports, they generally fall into one of two categories:

    • An error in the audit process that needs to be fixed – In this case, looking in detail at the errors helps to identify what’s wrong and improve the accuracy of your results.

    • A genuine error – In this situation, the report is accurate, indicating that product is missing from your bar. Correcting these errors requires looking more closely at the performance of each individual product to identify where the error occurred. This will help us determine the adjustments to your operations that are necessary to fix the problem.
  • Manager training – When you start working with Bar-i, we’ll send you a series of training videos for your managers to review. These videos are also accompanied by a short quiz to help you ensure your managers are processing the information accurately.

    We provide videos for both full service and self-count clients. Watching these training videos will help your managers gain a better understanding of how Bar-i’s processes and inventory system work, which will ultimately improve your results. It’s crucial that you have your managers watch these videos and complete the training series if you want to maximize the return on your investment from our bar inventory services.

  • Weekly meeting (full service clients only) – Make sure you are consistently available each week near the end of the audit to assist your account manager in resolving any errors and anomalies that may have occurred. This is an important part of the process and will help us provide the most accurate results possible.

Communication with Your Staff

In order for our inventory data to translate into improved accountability, you must discuss the results with your staff after every audit. Some important items that should be communicated to your staff include:

  • Organizing Inventory Items behind the Bar Labels and organization – Make sure there is a clear system of organization for all inventory items both behind the bar and in storage areas. This organizational system should be evident to all staff members without explanation or training.

    This is most effectively accomplished by making sure every item is labeled or mapped in some way. Labeling should make it possible for anyone to set up the bar in the exact same way if it were broken down.

  • Print page 1 of inventory report – After each audit cycle, please print the first page of the report (the “Staff Report” page) and post it somewhere accessible for all staff to see.

  • Regular meeting to review results – Simply posting the results isn’t enough to ensure your staff will pay attention to the results. After each audit cycle, you must also present the results to your staff and discuss them during an in-person meeting.

  • POS system messages – If it’s available, utilize the user messaging capability of your POS system to write notes to your staff. These notes will be displayed anytime a staff member signs into the system.

  • Communicate consequences – Anytime rewards or corrective actions are used, they must be clearly posted for staff to read. This will ensure fairness and clarity.

Rewards and Corrective Actions

Rewards and Incentives for Exceptional Bar Staff PerformanceThe single most important factor in determining the level of performance our clients achieve is the amount of action and effort they apply when results fall short of expectations. We encourage you to develop a system of rewards and corrective actions by choosing a combination of the items listed below.

Keep in mind that not every action will be right for every bar. Instead of adopting every recommendation, you should create a customized system that addresses the unique needs of your bar.

Potential rewards to offer include:

  • Positive reinforcement – Make sure you tell your staff when they’re doing well. This will not only let them know they’re meeting or exceeding expectations, but it will foster a positive atmosphere at your bar. Everyone likes to feel appreciated for their efforts and hard work.

  • Comping policy – When results meet or exceed expectations, allow your bartenders to comp some client drinks according to a specific comping policy that you’ve established and communicated to your staff.

  • Shift drinks – Providing your bar staff with discounted shift drinks is a great way to reward them when results are good.

  • Group rewards – You can incentivize the bar staff as a whole by offering group trips or rewards when certain performance goals are achieved. Some examples of potential rewards include a trip to a local craft brewery, a ball game, or some type of prize.

As we mentioned earlier, we don’t recommend using punishments to motivate your staff since it can potentially create a toxic atmosphere. That being said, corrective actions are essential when your staff isn’t achieving the level of accountability necessary for your bar to run properly. In order to maintain a proper balance (and avoid creating a toxic working environment), make sure you use these corrective actions sparingly and judiciously.

Some potential corrective actions to consider include:

  • Removing rewards – When results fail to meet your expectations, employee privileges such as comp tabs and shift drinks can be removed. However, this only works if you establish a culture where these items are considered a privilege to be earned and not a right to be expected.

  • Jigger pouring – Require all bar staff to pour every drink during the upcoming inventory period using jiggers or a similar measuring device.

  • Extra staff meeting – Schedule an additional mandatory staff meeting to discuss inventory audit results and any new processes that will be implemented to improve these results moving forward.

  • Individual meetings – If you feel it will be more effective, you can schedule one-on-one meetings with every bartender instead of holding one meeting with the entire group.

  • Bar cleaning – Require extra tasks and bar cleaning when results fail to meet expectations.

  • Extra staffing – Schedule extra staff on busy nights to ensure your bartenders aren’t rushing. This will also dilute the tip pool, which should hopefully motivate your staff to improve performance and eliminate the need for additional staffing.

  • Pre-shift pouring practice – Conduct pre-shift pouring practice with all bar staff before each shift and require those who fail to jigger-pour all shift.

  • Weekly pouring practice – Schedule a group pouring class every week when results lag. Over time, regular pouring practice can also be an effective way to ensure all your bartenders are pouring every drink in a consistent and uniform manner.

  • Bar-i staff presentation – Schedule a time for your Bar-i account manager to meet with your staff and run a pouring clinic during a formal staff meeting.

  • Change personnel – While it’s very rarely necessary to make staffing changes based on poor inventory results, it must be clear to bar staff that consistent poor results will eventually result in changed responsibilities, or possibly termination, for staff members who consistently fail to take these initiatives seriously.

Rewards Schedule Template

Incentive Program for BartendersIt’s very important that you create a sensible rewards program which is consistently applied. Psychological research has found that the consistent application of a rewards system is more important than the specifics of the rewards used.

We encourage you to review our sample rewards schedule in order to get an idea for how to set up an effective incentive program at your own bar. Keep in mind that in order for your rewards schedule to truly be effective, you will need to customize it to match the aims and ethos of your business.

In addition, this incentive program should be agreed upon by all staff to ensure proper buy-in. This will also ensure that they have a clear understanding not only of what is expected of them, but also what will happen when they exceed, meet and fail to meet these expectations.

An effective rewards schedule will create the incentives necessary to ensure your bar staff remains invested in the success of your bar. Over time, you’ll find that the improvement in staff accountability will help you significantly improve your profits.

If you would like to learn more about how our bar inventory services can streamline your operations and maximize your profits, please contact Bar-i today to schedule a free consultation. We serve clients nationwide from our offices in Denver, Colorado.

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Topics: Accountability

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