If anyone knows how to run a bar, it is Jon Taffer. Star of Spike TV’s Bar Rescue, and author of the book “Raise the Bar: An Action-Based Method for Maximum Customer Relations,” he can pretty much explain to you exactly what to do, and specifically what not to do, to have a successful bar or tap room.
When asked about best business practices, Jon feels: “When my company does a good job, we make people happy. They laugh, they smile, they have a good time — that’s what we do for a living. Any business doing that is making a noble effort.”
The following are some key points that he deems essential, and what could make or break your business.
The Immediate Sell
The second a patron walks into your establishment, is the second you can begin to sell. Every type of communication must induce a positive response from the customer. As Jon put it: “Any business, no matter what it is, lives and dies by the customer reaction it creates.”
Know your audience, and establish the correct products accordingly. Never change so much, it completely alienates your entire customer base. While change is good, it’s always much more effective to take baby steps.
Make the Most of Difficult Customers
Jon’s advice is to always treat patrons like family. The more they may complain, the harder you have to listen and smile. The first time a customer visits a new place, there is a 50% chance they will never return. If they do come back for seconds, the percentage of them returning raises to 70%. Every transaction should be held to a high standard, and making a great first impression is imperative to customer retention.
“Most people fall into one of four personality or motivational buckets: money, pride, ego and fear,” says Jon. Always appeal to one of these aspects, and you’re golden. You should be creating marketing tactics to appeal to one of these personality traits.
For example, if you have a new draft, explain how good it can make people feel, or at what a great price it is. Much like insurance would appeal to fear, keeping these traits in mind will stimulate your profits!
Don’t Hire Based on Experience
Look for personality in your people, not what’s on paper. Passion goes a long way, and anyone on staff given an opportunity, can be your greatest loyal member. People need to believe in something, to sell it efficiently. Identify the key personality traits for the job, and craft a job posting around those. It is sure to draw the attention to the people that your business deserves.
Jon Taffer also suggests to never coddle the weakest employees. Running a bar or tap room often feels like family, but that can end badly if you make excuses for people’s mistakes. It is a common denominator in bad business.
Lastly, teach don’t train your employees. Training is behavior modification, and you want people to have a passion to learn the business. As Jon states: “Teaching is showing someone how to carry out specific tasks and then encouraging them to add their personalities in to make their role come alive.” When you teach instead of train, staff will be happier, motivated and much more efficient.
Overall, operating a bar is said to be one of the toughest businesses to thrive in. Jon Taffer has been doing so for over 20 years and it shows. Taking some simple advice from a professional of that caliber, can help you to enjoy continued success for years to come!