Sam Fish: Does Service Sell?

Does Service Sell?

We used this pic because 'douchebag' is the BarLifeUK word of the week

As we dawdle along this road of recession, myself (and I’m sure many other managers out there) spend time looking for the way to keep custom in your bar, and not somebody else’s!

You look at your drinks offering. Is the music right? For some reason one of the last things you think of is the actual customer service that is being given to our dear clientele!

I suppose it’s because we assume that our friends and co-workers are friendly, reasonable people and would never even think about being rude to the guy that’s ordered 20 Mojito’s when you’re getting a proverbial bumming on a Saturday night, right?

When I started out I was trained by an excellent bartender, his cocktails always looked perfect and his spirit knowledge was second to none. However, he was a man that firmly believed if somebody was rude to you, you could be rude right back.

Now, I’ve been into bars where bartenders do have that attitude… and the place is still packed!?! Do the general public really care about customer service in a bar anymore?

The plastic service that you can associate with McDonalds isn’t the sort of thing I’m talking about. I mean bridging that gap between bartender and customer, something that most recently I experienced at the London Cocktail Club.  We walked in and the place was heaving, before even getting to the bar, the bartender had made eye contact, smiled and told me “he’d be with me in just a second.”

He was, we stayed all night and had a great time. That bartender, I wish I could give you his name but I didn’t know him, made us feel like we were a part of “it” as soon as we walked through the door. That’s great customer service, and it didn’t even take much effort.

As bartenders, part of the reason we get hired is because we have outgoing personalities and are basically up for having a good time, sometimes you see these people behind a bar and that wonderful person gets lost somehow? Now, I don’t believe you can train someone to have charisma, but what I try to do here at MOJO is remind the guys what THEY would want from a night out, to use that as a benchmark of how to treat other people and how to make them have not just a good night but a great night.

As un-neighbourly it seems, look at what other places have done wrong to you in the past, learn from other people mistakes before making your own.

I’ll give you an example of a situation that I learnt from, this is a few years ago so for it to stick with me this long showed how awkward the exchange was. I was having a quick drink at a bar (which shall remain nameless) when a guy motions to speak to the bartender.

He explained, in a very apologetic manner, that he had just been out for a smoke and his whisky had been taken away from his table. I thought, honest mistake to make, single malt, no ice, bartender thought it was dead, we’ve all done it. The man was told firmly (and loudly) that he should finish his drink before going out for a cigarette and it was basically his own fault! He was reluctantly given another whisky, that he chose not to finish and instead made a pretty sharp exit.

Not only will that person and his friend have told anybody that will listen about that harsh over reaction but it made a pretty bad impression on me, an outsider, who is now telling you about it, in a national magazine!!

Does service sell? Yes, but it has to be bang on!

Obviously I don’t want somebody to be rude or unwelcoming towards me but I also I don’t want someone to tell me to have a nice day when they couldn’t give two shits. Give me a bottle of beer and a bartender that has personality and a friendly smile and I’ll be there every night!!!