How to Retain Talent Behind the Bar

Jul. 19, 2018

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Employee retention is a key to success for any business, but in the bar industry where employees engage in direct social interactions with paying customers, retaining high-performers—and keeping them happy—is crucial to the establishment’s bottom line.

They are, in fact, the face of the business, so supporting them properly is vital when trying to maintain a consistent high-quality experience for customers.

Breakthru Illinois’ Natalia Cardenas, this year’s winner of the WSWA Iron Mixologist competition, has four tips on how bars and restaurants can engage their staff so they feel supported, empowered and most of all, happy.

1) Invest in Quality Bar Tools

Natalia Cardenas: Investing in quality bar tools and equipment shows your staff that you value their talents to executing their work behind the bar. You wouldn’t serve your guests a dish on a paper plate, so why force your staff to use substandard equipment?

Insider tip: Talk to your suppliers and distributors about inventory they might have that is available for use. Oftentimes, they’ll be more than happy to supply a bar or restaurant with glassware, tools or equipment.

2) Support Staff Ideas

Enlisting your employees to help develop your business is very important. If someone on your staff has new ideas for your bar program, strongly consider those ideas because your staff will feel empowered and respected.

3) Set Up Staff for Success

From the amount of glassware the bar staff has to polish during the evening rush to bar tools disappearing, there are concerns a bar staff may have that requires attention from the manager. Hiring an extra person to wash glasses allows a bartender to focus more on what they do best—and the very reason why customers are in the bar to begin with—build and serve excellent cocktails. Also, investing in security or a lock box for employees to keep their stuff locked up is important. Good bars want you to have your own space.

4) Support Professional Development

This is a big one. A business that supports an employee developing their own skills is a good one, and one that good employees want to be at. In the bar industry, BarSmarts is an online training program where bar staffers can go to better their skills, and offering to pay for these affordable programs is a nice gesture to employees.

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