Avoiding Last Call on Bar Beverage Sales

Off-premise dining forces operators to take a fresh look at alcohol sales.
A bartender adds an orange twist to a fresh cocktail

While off-premise dining is creating growth opportunities for restaurant food sales, these sales often don’t include beverages, specifically alcohol. This puts pressure on operators to better maintain and manage their bar beverage programs. 

Fortunately, there are tools to help. Samuel Zats, co-founder and CEO of bar-service software provider Bevager, says any solution should lower pour costs and save on labor. He urges considering solutions that are:

1. Digital 
Conventional spreadsheets are only as good as the data that is input (and the labor that inputs it). “Software creates consistency,” Zats says. It reduces transcription errors even as it increases speed—which drives profitability.

2. Mobile
Seek a solution that allows you to input information via smartphone and tablet, and view real-time sales and inventory remotely.

3. Integrated with your systems
Bar software should tie into your point-of-sales system so you can monitor profit and cost of sales. It should link to your accounting system to simplify invoice management. 

4. Optimized for inventory management
In addition to enhancing the speed and accuracy of taking inventory, you’ll want a system that lets you view real-time inventory from anywhere. 

5. Recipe-friendly
Consider a system that enables you to build out the recipes you serve and engineer your pricing to ensure you’re hitting cost goals. If you’ve integrated your POS with bar service, the system can deplete ingredients from the theoretical inventory each time the recipe is sold.

Vendor checklist

Zats recommends questioning vendors to find the right match. Here are some basics: 

1. Will you build a partnership?
Ideally, the vendor should invest the time to understand your business. This system is a long-term implementation, not a one-time installation.

2. What does the tool do?
Understand exactly what you can (and can’t) expect from the system. If you want more than the system can deliver, talk to other vendors. 

3. How do I set it up?
Explain your goals for the system and ask how it should be set up to help you attain them.

4. How will I measure success?
Get guidelines on how quickly you will be able to take inventory and create an order? How much will you reduce labor costs and pour costs? 

5. Can you provide referrals?
Ask the vendor if you can speak to operations of similar size and scope that have implemented the tool. 

Contact your Business Solutions Specialist for advice on technology solutions to benefit your bar business. 

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