Bartenders replaced by self-service

It started in Ireland (shocker) and has now made it’s way to the shores of the US and not co-incidentally to one of the most familiar Irish outposts to thousands of emigrants: Boston. What am I talking about? The Pour-Your-Own-Beer Tables that Guinness trialled in Ireland last year to great success have now made it to the Littlest Bar in Boston.

Never have you ever seen such a high tech setup: patrons give their credit cards to the bartender, who turns on the table-mounted taps. After two beers, the system pauses and the bartender pops by to make sure no one is too inebriated to keep drinking. The Littlest Bar currently offers self-serve Smithwick’s and Guinness with a bartender available to show you how to pour the latter.

Personally I think it’s a bit gimmicky and the only reason these tables appear in bars around Ireland is the generous incentives Guinness offers bars to stock them.

At the end of the day, they take up a huge amount of space in small bars and remove the very reason for going to the bar in the first place: social interaction.

It’s a long time since I got a response from a table…..


Increase Wine sales with this one simple menu change

wineflightIf you sell wine in your business, there is a simple way that you can increase wine sales today. I was reminded of this on a recent visit to The Wine Guy Wine Shop in Gahanna, Ohio. The Wine Guy Shop is a retail wine store with a bar and dining facilities.

There’s something special about sitting in the middle of a wine store surrounded by wines from around the world while snacking on tapas and trying a selection of wines.

Many customers are afraid of wines and feel intimidated by the range of wines on a menu, the price variations, the regions and don’t want to look foolish if they make a poor choice.

To overcome this, the Wine Guy Wine Shop has arranged their wine menu into “flights” instead of regions or price ranges. Wine Flights are basically a selection of wines made available to taste. Flights can range in size from 3 to more than 50. In this case, The Wine Guy has arranged their flights into selections of four wines at a time. For a more detailed explanation of wine flights, click here.

For $12.99 to $14.99, you can taste 4 half-glasses of different wines presented in a nice little tray. Considering they sell wines by the glass for around $7.99 each, this is a great way to get customers to taste many different wines without committing too much money to their initial decision.

I would also recommend giving customers a little wine card or notebook to record the wines tasted so that they can remember what they liked on the next visit.

Anything you can do to remove the fear customers have about your products, the easier it will be to get them to part with their hard earned money. Every little helps.

See the picture below of the menu in The Wine Guy Wine Shop:

photoClick to Enlarge

A woman’s handbag is an extension of herself

handbagA woman’s handbag is an extension of herself. I have yet to find a woman who disagrees with that statement! It is the place where she stores her arsenal of makeup, her range of sprays and beauty tools, spare shoes, brushes, small pets and the odd piece of furniture or two…There is nowhere she won’t go without her handbag and she considers it a fifth limb.

50% of your customers are probably of the female variety, so would you allow female customers into your bar or restaurant only to insist they sit on the floor? I don’t think so. If you want to wow your female customers, then don’t ask them to place their handbags on the floor either.

When I was a Trainee Hotel Manager in Adare Manor, in Limerick back in the 1990s, Chef Marco Pierre White was my hero and in one interview he gave, he mentioned that all of his female customers in his famous Oak Room Restaurant were given a little cushioned stool to place their handbag on. I thought this was the most opulent, over-the-top thing I had ever heard. Can you imagine your customer’s response when the waiter places a stool under the handbag?

If you don’t want to splash out on handbag stools, then why not offer a purse hanger, so that guests can hang their purse-hangershandbags/purses from the side of the table easily and discreetly.

If you wanted to be very clever, you could have some branded purse hangers created for your restaurant and give them away to all the ladies as they leave. That way, no matter which bar or restaurant they go to, your business name will be on show for all to see!

Help your customers find your power outlets!

Every time I walk into a bar or cafe with my laptop, you’ll find me walking around staring at the floor looking for a power outlet (“socket” for my European friends).

I’m not the only one. If you offer Wi-Fi (and any regular reader of this blog will know that I think you should), then five minutes spent observing the to-ing and fro-ing will show you countless other customers doing the same. It’s not a big problem until you start tripping over things you haven’t been watching out for and get accused of staring at people’s legs when all you want to do is get to a power supply before the twenty open windows on your computer that you’ve been meaning to save crash and disappear.

The Cafe I used as my office today have decided to make life that little bit easier for their customers by putting a little sign over each table that has a power supply beneath it. Simple and clever. No more staring at legs for me.


10 ways to get rid of customers you don't want

badcustomersSo, most of the posts here so far have either been about how to get more customers or what I find disgusting, but something I haven’t yet mentioned is how to get rid of customers! Yes, you read correctly. Every bar and restaurant has customers they don’t want, just aren’t worth the effort or you’ve just had a bad day and want to go home, so here are 10 ways to get rid of customers you don’t want today. Chances are any of these points will have customers moving towards the door rather quickly:

  1. Seat 6 customers at a table for 2 because “it’s the only table you have left”.
  2. Be within earshot of the customers when you mention the rash you can’t get rid of to other servers.
  3. Open all the windows and doors to “air the restaurant” when the last table won’t leave.
  4. Lift your customers up to dust the seat under them to “get a head start on the cleaning”.
  5. Discuss the horrendous cost of cockroach traps that you recently had to buy.
  6. When asked what you would recommend, point across the road to McDonalds.
  7. When cleaning the nearby tables, be sure to angle the cleaning spray so that it doesn’t hit the customers (we wouldn’t want them to leave now, would we?)
  8. Ask the customer every two minutes if everything is ok. If yes, return to point 5.
  9. Ask your female customers if having that cake is really such a good idea. Especially considering…
  10. Move the 6 customers from their table of 2 to a table for 1 because of “the recession”.

If all of this fails, you have the most committed and devoted customers ever in the world.

Treasure them…

Dear "know-it-all" bartender, you're wrong

An open letter to the bartender who “served” me last night.

Dear Bartender, ( I use this term loosely),

I would like to draw your attention to the incident last night when polite company and manners prevented me from dressing you down publicly as would have befitted the occasion.

When I ordered a Mojito from you, I had a basic level of expectation as to what I was going to get. After all a Mojito is not a vague guideline, but a specific recipe.

I was not expecting a tall hurricane glass with three large ice cubes floating around the top, a withered piece of mint drowning in a solution of 90% cane rum, topped up with a splash of still water…

However, everyone can make a mistake and it’s not about the mistake, but how you handle it that will cement my impression of you. Alas, this opportunity was wasted on you when I asked for a replacement.

Telling me that you have done this for years and know how to make a Mojito did nothing to improve the flavor of the poor excuse for a cocktail I was trying to return to you and will certainly not endear yourself to me. Asking two other customers at the bar if their Mojitos were the yummiest they had ever tasted in a clear attempt at embarrassing me in front of my friends and your customers for returning your “masterpiece” makes you look foolish and even more incompetent.

While wisdom normally comes with age, clearly the years that have contributed to your greying hair were years spent avoiding education and skill. Here’s hoping the years between grey hair and white hair will be more educational.

Unfortunately I won’t be back to sample your skills whatever your hair color, because you had your chance and blew it. Big time.


4 customers who are going elsewhere tomorrow