January 24, 2019

The one question you should ask for 2019? How long should your customer wait for a drink?

How long should a customer wait for a drink?

Asking how long a customer should wait for a drink, is a bit like asking how long is a piece of string? But hear us out on this.

Like many people getting back down to business this January, you're probably looking at the how, what, why, when of the year.

How to do better, save more money, be more profitable? What do we need to do more of, do differently, change? Why did x happen last year; and what can we change?

But there's one simple question, that may help you answer a lot of those other questions....

How long should a guest wait for their drink?

If you can't answer this question straight away, then perhaps it's the one question you should be asking yourself moving into a new year.

Certainly, it can seem overwhelming due to the many factors at play. A small number of these will be out of your control, but being able to answer the following might help you see the bigger picture...

1. How many separate ingredients are on your menu?

We've split this exercise into two halves to make it easier on the brain. First up is the numbers, some simple counting to get those brain muscles working.

So, think carefully about the number of separate ingredients you need for the cocktails on your menu, and how long they take to gather and combine. There's a reason that some of the most popular cocktails only have three to four ingredients. As Author, Robert Simonson says in his book, 3-Ingredient Cocktails:

“One ingredient, you’ve got a nice dram. Two, you’ve got a highball. Get three things to marry together, you’ve likely got a cocktail on your hands. More than three, and you’ve got a more complicated cocktail, not necessarily a better one.”

Similarly, how many cocktails are on your menu? Maybe now is a good time to implement the 80/20 rule and spring clean the menu.

Champagne gimlet

2. Are there pre-batched ingredients on-hand for more popular / high volume selling drinks?

While we're considering the drink itself, which ingredients can you be clever with?

Last years trend for shrubs and fermented ingredients hasn't gone away, and they offer some great opportunities for batching. 

3. How many people are making drinks behind the bar?

Sticking with the numbers behind the bar, it's time to do a quick headcount.

How many trained bartenders do you have? Do you have a glassy/bar back support to help? But, most importantly, how well-trained and equipped are those staff to do their jobs?

If you have 10 people behind the bar, but none of them have received more than simple training, it's likely they'll take longer to mix a drink.

4. Can you make an 80 per cent gross profit and still sell the drink?

As a Food and Beverage Manager, you're unlikely to be signing off on a drink, if you don't know that the sell price, versus the cost price (goods and labour) is going to provide you with that 80 per cent profit. But have you correctly taken into account wastage too? 

Uberbartools BarCheck

5. How much will a drink sell for, versus cost and time to make?

Which brings us to the more serious end of business. Is it worth making this drink?

If your staff are concentrating on a few key ingredients and are well-trained to provide speed, efficiency and consistency in their service, then you are at least 50 per cent of the way to answering our initial question.

6. What's the expected spend per guest target?

Be realistic here. Are they having a quiet $7 beer and then leaving or are they likely to be ordering several $18 cocktails?

That guy having a quick beer after work likely wants to grab it and leave, whereas the group ordering cocktails may want to take their time and watch the cocktail being created.

Go and grab a spreadsheet and get counting, but make sure you come back next week, when we'll be taking a brave step out from behind the bar. Looking at the external factors affecting your customer's experience and in turn, your bar's profitability.