Pouring For Profit

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I recently began consulting with a busy catering group whose beverage packages were losing money. They knew that alcohol sales should generate great financial return and they couldn’t understand why that wasn’t happening for them. One look at their liquor storage room and I began to see the problem.  First the door to the room was wide open and completely unattended.  A couple questions revealed that there were half a dozen keys to the liquor room floating about. Secondly, there were no specific policies regarding packing or pre- and post-event inventories. Lastly, the bar staff were largely unsupervised, with no one responsible for on-site beverage management or consistent handling of the product. Without any monitoring of their liquid assets, this company might as well have been pouring all that booze down the drain. 


Fortunately, these problems can be addressed with straightforward solutions rooted in focus and intentionality.  I worked with this company to implement what we called The New Rules:

  1. Lock it up.  We changed the lock to the liquor room and produced just 2 keys to the new locks.  One is for the owner and one is for the kitchen manager or her assistant.  They are required to sign the key in and out for each use.
  2. Write it down.  An inventory sheet is posted outside the liquor room.  The manager initials each item as it is removed, noting the date and time.  Liquor pull sheets are produced for every event using a system that monitors inventory multiple times: when it arrives at the event site, when it is packed up after the event, and when it is returned to the shop.
  3. Keep your eyes open.  Bar servers are now carefully schooled in proper bar management.  They are taught to provide consistent and measured pours, and they are regarded for high performance.  They have been enlisted in the company's goal to improve beverage profits and their new sense of purpose shows in their careful efforts.

It may seem that The New Rules are redundant or over-the-top, but because good bar management can play such a dramatic role in increasing profitability, it's worth being vigilant in this area.  Within a short timeframe, my client began to see increased margins on liquor sales.  Even better, the new discipline has begun to carry over to other areas of the business.

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