Hiring the right bartender makes a huge difference in operating a successful and profitable bar. A bartender who is fast, efficient, outgoing, able to up sell and suggest higher priced options and keep customers entertained will make for a very successful bar operation. The opposite is obviously true for a bartender lacking these skills.
As a new bar owner, you probably don’t want to spend the time and energy training a brand new bartender- you will be better off finding one who already has the skills. Even better, find a bartender who already has a dedicated following. If you aren’t going to be located too far from where they work now, you may be able to draw a significant volume of traffic in to at least give your place a chance.
Another option along these lines, though it is employed by very few places, is to have a “guest” bartender come in one night a week. Again, with the right following, and by having a few different guest bartenders in the course of a week, you can front load your chances of opening with a good size crowd.
Unless you plan to have a bar back position, someone who cleans and stocks the bar because the bartender is too busy, you must also make sure your bartenders are not just good drink pourers, but also good at keep the bar clean, well stocked, and organized. A bartender who spends too much time attending the customers can be a problem as well, since they will either leave a big mess, or else rack up overtime hours doing things they should have been doing during their regular shift.
Training your bartenders should include proper portioning of drinks, which can be tested using a measuring device and practice pouring. They should be taught to properly stock and replenish the bar supplies throughout the shift, including ice, liquor, and all mixing supplies. They should keep clean an adequate supply of glassware, and never have time to simply stand around doing nothing.
If they aren’t already familiar with the concept, they need to be able to up sell. This helps increase the bar’s profits by having the bartender suggest upgrades to premium liquors, try more expensive mixed drinks or introduce them to new brands of higher margin liquor. The bartender needs to be the right combination of persuasive without being pushy, rude or overbearing.
A good bartender is real find, and you should never rush in your decision to hire one, or to find the right one if the people you are interviewing don’t seem up to par. Also keep in mind, hiring the wrong one can cost you a ton of money- sometimes the difference between making money and losing money, so hire carefully and always keep an eye on your staff.