So, you've landed a job in the hospitality industry, congratulations! It's easy to get worked up if it's your first time behind a bar. Here's some of our best tips for new bartenders to make your first shift a breeze.
Tip 1: Learn the Bar (ask questions!)
First things first, it's important to know the bar. Nothing removes confidence from customers than a bartender that doesn't know his/her own bar. It's best to arrive early before your first shift to get a good grasp on where everything is.
You'll probably be working with a senior bartender on your first shift so don't get worked up if you can't remember every ale, spirit or wine that's in stock. They're there to help you, so if you need it, be sure to ask. By asking questions and showing your interest in learning your way around the bar, it will have a positive impression on your new co-workers and managers.
Tip 2: Be Resilient
By far, this is one of the most important qualities if you're going to be a successful bartender. Throughout your time working behind the bar, you'll experience all walks of life and with it different personalities; some good, some bad. What's important is that anything said to you, you must not take personally or dwell on it - it was mostly influenced by being in an intoxicated state.
However, it's important to know the difference between someone being a little silly and outright harassment. If you ever feel like you're being harassed by a customer, be sure to report it to your manager.
Tip 3: Avoid Excessive Conversation
If you're on the receiving end of a talkative customer and spot new customers waiting to be served, just politely excuse yourself to serve them before returning to the conversation you were having - that is of course, if there is no other tasks requiring urgent attention.
The customers you just served will appreciate the quick service and your new friend will feel valued as you've returned to the conversation. Win-win.
Tip 4: Collect Orders, Then Serve
It's a rookie mistake if you attempt to serve drinks on a one-by-one basis, it slows down your customer service and allows further work/tasks to build up.
This is key for those working in family bars, remember to take the orders from the entire table before walking back to the bar. It gives you a list to work through and avoids the drama of one person's drink arriving quicker and another one taking longer than usual.
If it's taking a while for you to build your confidence to take multiple drink orders at a time, ask one of your colleagues to help you. Don't worry, as your confidence grows you'll be able to take on multiple orders at once.
Also, if a round of drinks starts getting complicated and customers are struggling to remember it themselves - "Oh, actually, another pint of the first one I ordered" - then we advise stopping, slowing it down and running through the whole order. Smile and explain you're new.
Customers will appreciate you making sure you get their order right and it will be quicker than getting it wrong and correcting the mistakes.
Tip 5: Keep Busy
There's various reasons why this is important; from making the best first impressions to your boss, to avoiding unnecessary conversation at the bar. It's easy on your first few shifts to feel completely out of place due to inexperience, but bartending isn't all about serving drinks - it can involve cleaning the bar, restocking and inventory checks.
Any 'quiet' time, is precious as it allows you to prepare for the next rush and remain organised therefore minimising the chance of errors.
Tip 6: Remember to Clean
As the bar can be very busy one minute to very quiet the next, it's important to take advantage of the quiet times to clean up. Remove dirty glasses from the bar and make sure you have clean glasses available. Tidy up tables and remove any litter from the floor. Bar areas can be full of health and safety hazards like broken glass and slippery floors, it's your responsibility to clean the area and remove potentially dangerous hazards.
Tip 7: Remain Calm
It's one of your first shifts as a bartender so you're not going to be a pro overnight. Most people will realise you're new and they will be understanding if you're not the fastest at serving. Just make sure you get the orders correct, customers will appreciate your attentiveness.
If you panic and rush, there is a greater chance you will accidentally break a glass or get an order wrong. Mistakes cause the bar money, so take your time and pay attention.
Tip 8: Have the right footwear
Along with wearing the correct bartender uniform, you need the right shoes.
Avoid turning up to your first shift in heels or your best pair of trainers, as more often that not, spills will be plentiful leading to potential safety concerns or ruined footwear. As you're going to be spending countless hours on your feet behind the bar, it's vital you invest in a comfortable pair of slip-resistant shoes.
For bartenders, you really need to be wearing bartender slip-resistant shoes:
Struggling for Time?
Fear not, if you're reading this on your way to your shift or are just lost for time, you can download our latest catalogue to read whilst you're on the go. Get your copy below: