bar_rescueIf you’re in the bar business, you’ve probably seen an episode of “Bar Rescue.” Nothing better than Spike TV at 2 a.m. and seeing John Taffer confront a guilty bar staff. It makes for good TV, but let’s be honest: if you have to yell at your bar staff every week to get them to perform, you probably need a new staff.

So how do you create long-term accountability behind the bar? How do get your bartenders to do an even pour each time? How do you make sure that your signature drinks are made exactly the same way so that you create that consistent customer experience that gets people to return?

1. Set expectations with your staff.

What strikes me most about watching “Bar Rescue,” is that usually the staff doesn’t understand that pouring two ounces of vodka into a drink that requires 1.5 ounces is a bad thing. They notice they often get bigger tips from those customers and, at least for those customers, they feel it creates loyalty.

The expectation has never been set with the staff that they shouldn’t over-pour! It seems a simple thing, but from my experience its something many of the restaurants we’ve worked with skip or assume. Take the time to explain to your staff the importance of consistency. Set the expectation that no matter the tip the same drink is poured the same way every time. If a customer asks for more “booze” in their drink, offer them a double as an up-sale opportunity.

This consistency will pay off for your staff in the form of more customers and more tips in the long run.

2. Tell them that it’s about “Team.”

When individuals try to create customer loyalty by over-pouring, what they are really trying to do is create their own little fiefdom; customers who only come to them. That takes money away from the other bartenders, and can create an “every person for themselves” type of attitude. Customers won’t come in on other nights for other bartenders, or they’ll feel ripped-off if someone else serves them differently and won’t tip them! If everyone pours the same, then everyone succeeds together.

When someone is over-pouring then its their peers that stand the best chance of noticing. Correction from a peer is often received better and helps create that desired accountability.

3. Teach and tell them these things on a regular basis.

How do you expect your staff to be consistent if you aren’t? If you don’t deploy the same message on a regular basis, it will be easy to forget. We build this into the Waitrainer with recurring courses that everyone has to complete on a regular basis. That automates the process so you can forget about it. You can do it in your bar just by making sure you talk to your staff about it at least every few months by marking it in a calendar and going over it in company meetings.


Creating accountability behind the bar is the key to constancy and profitability in an establishment that serves alcohol. For that you need consistency in your training. If you make sure to tell every staff member what you expect exactly the same way, and repeat that message on a regular basis, you’ll get the results you’re looking for. You can use a training product like Waitrainer to help you do it, or if you’re disciplined you can simply talk to your staff about it directly and on a regular basis.

That’s something your staff might appreciate even more than a visit from Mr. Taffer himself.


AvatarTodd Edman

Todd Edman, the CEO of Restaurant Tech Inc. is dedicated to helping restaurants and the hospitality industry get a better handle on employee training, culture and performance.