How To Open a Bar: A Step-by-Step Guide
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It takes more than just nice vibes to make a bar successful. Bar owners and managers have to think about things like good staffing practices, inventory management, marketing tactics, and curating an appealing menu. Bar software applications can be a game-changer.
Today, we’ll be summarizing the features of several different bar software apps that have the potential to make a positive difference for your bar or brewpub.
Tools aimed at owners or managers of bars and restaurants are a rapidly expanding area of software development. With so many new software tools proliferating, trying to figure out which ones are right for your business can be overwhelming, and you can’t afford to take chances.
When you’re trying to decide if implementing a new software solution will be beneficial, stick to the essential questions that every business needs to think about:
Focusing on fundamentals will help you set aside gimmicky software startups and find real solutions that can actually deliver tangible results for your bar business.
There are many different categories of bar software, but to make things simple in this roundup, we’ll just break the applications down into two broad classes: tools for everyday operations and tools for back-office tasks.
Let’s start with some software options for handling the essentials of day-to-day operations — things like staffing your bar, taking payments, and keeping customers happy.
With Sling, bar managers can create schedules in minutes instead of hours. You can make and update schedules from anywhere, and your employees can access their schedules from anywhere and get notifications if their shift changes.
Using the Sling platform, team members can submit time off requests and choose the shifts they’d like to work, making it easier for you to keep track of availability. Sling also has a time clock function to accurately track employee hours.
In addition, Sling allows managers to create unmissable announcements, offers individual and group chats, and lets you assign tasks to each employee so everyone stays on the same page.
You can schedule your staff and use basic communication features for free, plus get a risk-free, 15-day trial of all of Sling here.
Toast is one of the most popular POS solutions for bars and restaurants, used in over 80,000 establishments in the U.S.
Toast is cloud-based, so it can be accessed in or out of the bar, has a reliable offline mode so your business doesn’t shut down if your Internet connection goes down, and saves staff time with swipe and save to create tabs and pre-authorization of payments.
Knowledgeable bartending staff can make a big difference in attracting bar patrons who want to expand their liquor horizons. Bartender’s Choice is designed to help bartenders suggest drinks for customers who want to try new things or aren’t sure what to order.
By asking questions about their favorite liquor, style of cocktail, and flavor, bartenders can help patrons discover new favorites. There’s also a “surprise me” feature, which picks five random selections from the app’s database of hundreds of recipes.
Despite its name, Bar and Club Stats isn’t a tool for crunching numbers to make your bar operation leaner and meaner (though we’ll have some options for that later in the article). Instead, Bar and Club Stats offers solutions for scanning patron IDs.
The scanner tool can be run from any browser or device using a camera or Bluetooth. The software is easy to use so staff can quickly confirm valid IDs from legal drinking-age patrons and spot fake IDs or underage customers.
SkyTab is another POS system with menu features attractive for bars and clubs. It allows patrons to make contactless orders from their phones, pay at the table, and pay cover charges at the door.
SkyTab lets you pre-authorize payments, easily split checks, and track gratuities so your employees get the tips they deserve.
SevenRooms helps bar and club owners create personalized experiences for their best customers. In addition to a reservation system, the software captures guest spending data to create a profile of VIPs.
The unfortunate reality is that many bars with good staff, great ambiance, and even a loyal customer base have been forced to close because of back-office inefficiencies that made them financially unviable.
The second half of our bar software tools roundup will focus on solutions for avoiding administrative pitfalls and helping you reach your customers.
This can help the fantastic front-of-house experience you give your patrons translate into real profitability.
In addition to the features mentioned earlier, Sling also allows you to export timesheets to payroll and analyze the data collected to optimize your operations, manage labor costs, and much more. To top it all off, Sling has integrations with many popular POS and payroll solutions.
Partender is an inventory and ordering tool. You can point your phone camera at a bottle and tap where the liquor level is, and the tool automatically interprets that information to track your inventory.
You can then run a report and receive a purchase order sorted by purveyor and distributor in seconds. Partender also lets you analyze consumption so you can see what you’re selling the most of and what you have too much of and then adjust your orders accordingly.
TapHunter is an app that allows beer, wine, and cocktail aficionados to see what’s served at local bars, tasting rooms, and bottle shops and get notified when their favorites are available.
Bar managers can also use TapHunter to update their print and digital menus, website, and social media when they change their offerings and to engage with patrons on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
You can use BevSpot to spot-check inventory and update your stock file in real time. Data analytics allow you to understand your sales patterns. You can also make a restock order with one click.
MarginEdge is another popular option for helping bars and restaurants optimize inventory and ordering. Using MarginEdge, you can analyze your menu, figure out your sell-through rate, and process invoices all from one tool.
Any bar specializing in craft beer could benefit from being aware of Untappd, a beer-rating app that will help you curate a menu of popular brews and then share it with the world.
You can use the software to create QR code menus for contact-free ordering, use analytics to see which beers you’re selling the most of, and link to your social media accounts to keep your patrons up to date on what’s on tap.
Worth a look for any establishment that prides itself on a strong wine selection, WineRatings+ offers reviews on hundreds of thousands of wines from professional tasters. You can search to find varieties with specific flavor notes to round out the variety of your wine list.
When you pick the right applications, bar software can have a big impact in helping you run a bar that’s consistently profitable and keeps patrons consistently coming back.
One of the most important — and potentially most problematic — aspects of bar management is employee scheduling.
Sling makes it easy to create schedules that make sense, helps you communicate with your staff, ensures everyone has a clearly assigned task, and lets you track and analyze employee hours. You can even project the cost of your employees’ labor and spot areas to lower those costs.
To find out more, visit GetSling.com today.
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This content is for informational purposes and is not intended as legal, tax, HR, or any other professional advice. Please contact an attorney or other professional for specific advice.