Let’s imagine for a minute this is Chris and it’s a Tuesday night. It’s early, only 5:30 pm at the bar, however, suddenly 120 people descend and service is required.
There is only 1 bar person on duty….. Chris.
Now there are a few scenarios possible.
Chris is amazing, and able to look after everyone because he’s an octopus, has eight arms, and is able to speedily keep everyone happy. Nope, that doesn’t happen.
Chris politely serves everyone as best he can. Because no other help is coming. There are staff shortages and he’s solo behind the bar. Trying to remember everyone’s order, who’s who in the queue and what their drinks of choice are.
He gave this scenario a good shot, however, it leads me to explore what else could have happened…
Chris tried hard to serve patrons, however, he crumbled under the pressure, was very slow, cranky with customers and people ended up leaving the event early and going home or off to another bar. Subsequently, bar revenue for the evening was much lower than anticipated and forecasted. Chris also decided he couldn’t do it anymore and was given notice at the end of the week.
Chris quickly picks up the phone calling management for help. Rapidly two additional staff come and help serve guests. It’s a great night at the bar, things are pumping, the band is playing and there are lots of dollars made with very happy customers.
As I wrote earlier, the actual version was scenario number two.
Unfortunately, Chris didn’t get any assistance. He had to fend for himself and man the bar for several hours without assistance.
Hands down he did a top job under very difficult circumstances.
People were thirsty, hungry, and wanted attention. It was very hard work. There were definitely a lot of very unhappy patrons and as the saying goes “there was definitely money left on the table’. Or in this instance, there was money left in pockets and wallets that was not spent because there was nobody to serve. It took a long time, waiting and customers eventually just stopped trying. Where individuals may have normally had 2-4 drinks each, they managed 1 or maybe 2 if they got lucky and persevered. Likewise, those that would normally have had a much bigger night, had their quota halved, and so did the math. Add on food as well. Yes, it all adds up.
That’s a lot of lost revenue off a group of 120 patrons.
Now we’re not here to make commentary on the quantity of drinks consumed or not, and we’re not laying blame in any quarter.
It’s really about investigating the system, or lack of systems potentially, that meant Chris was solo on the bar and ways to avoid this in the future.
Here are a few questions to consider:
- Is this the normal standard of operation for the bar person-to-customer ratio?
- Are the expectations for bar staff to work unaided for several hours without breaks under these intense conditions?
- Did the event organiser of said 120-person event actually tell the bar that they were all going to be arriving?
- Did the events department tell the bar that there was going to be an event and organise rosters to ensure additional staff was scheduled to attend?
- Did said staff turn up or do a no-show, or are there simply no staff available to roster currently due to general staff shortages?
- Did Chris feel he could ring management and ask for support and additional staff to come and help with the influx of the 120 people all wanting beers, wines, and cocktails made at this event?
- Does the venue have standard procedures on what to do in these pressured event situations?
- Has Chris been given sufficient training to handle customer tension, feedback, and dissatisfaction?
- Could he have handled himself and the situation in a different way?
- Does the bar management have the best system in place for handling large quantities of people?
- Could they perhaps have set up a different system, some signage, or enabled queuing, numbering, or designated areas to serve, as opposed to people randomly waiting, getting annoyed and impatient with the lack of communication, and/or slow service times?
- Does the venue communicate with patrons (in any way) that staff shortages continue to be an issue and that patience is required?
There are so many questions we can ask to problem solve business scenarios like this example and the reality is, if we don’t ask better or different questions, we will continue to get the same outcomes.
This bar needs to improve its systems.
Remember Chris appeared to be doing his best undoubtedly. However you may agree, he wasn’t really set up to have a hugely successful night.
Having pulled a lot of beers and made many a cocktail in my time, I know there are a lot of unknowns. Potentially a lot of variables going on behind the scenes.
There is no judgment.
Pure curiosity. What can be learned from this example?
What do you and your team know is needed when it comes to setting staff up to succeed, implementing systems, and awareness of impacts on revenue generation?
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