fbpx

How Bartenders Can Set Boundaries with Patrons

July 17, 2018

While there are no strict rules on what a bartender should do to be successful, the job requires a person with skills that go beyond the knowledge of drinks. Bartending requires a delicate balance of knowledge, professionalism, and personality. One of the most difficult aspects of this career is how bartenders can set boundaries with patrons.

Most bartenders enter the industry because they have a liking for a specific aspect of it. They may have a passion for brewery or hospitality; others may like the attention that comes with the job, while there are those who are in for the tips.

Irrespective of the reasons for choosing to bartend, they are required to balance and excel in a variety of duties. Among other tasks, a bartender is required to be:

  • A great organizer
  • A drink mixer
  • A diplomat
  • A cashier
  • A friend to all
  • An ambassador to the business

One of the most challenging areas bartenders have to maneuver is delivering exceptional customer service while still drawing boundaries. Guests who feel comfortable with their bartenders can easily ask for too much emotional support or attempt to create a friendship outside of the restaurant or bar. This can make the bartender very uncomfortable and cause them to struggle with how to define relationships with people who feel that they know the bartender well. Here are some tips on how bartenders can set boundaries with patrons.

Engage with Guests – with Limits

Some bartenders tend to spend most of their time cleaning and tidying the room. While this is part of improving service delivery, a tidy bar is not enough to bring and retain customers. Bartenders do have to focus on customer service.

Great bartending involves knowing the names of loyal patrons, their favorite drinks, and where they like to sit. Great bartenders anticipate what patrons want even before they make requests.

When bartenders treat patrons as guests rather than customers, they will keep coming back. Bartenders can offer a true guest experience by creating a comfortable and inviting environment and being conscious of the guest’s surroundings.

Bartenders can take time to talk to patrons to build connections while still keeping professional boundaries. The basics include greeting them when they enter and saying goodbye as they leave. Also, bartenders can keep up with current events to be able to throw in some jokes occasionally.

While bartenders are expected to offer a listening ear, they should never meddle in the personal lives of their patrons. They should avoid giving unsolicited advice. In fact, bartenders should refrain from giving feedback on personal matters. In most cases, patrons are looking for a sympathetic listener, not a problem solver.

To keep guests coming back, bartenders can avoid being too intimate or offending them by keeping things light and avoiding discussions revolving around politics or religion.

Be Fair to Everyone

Bartenders can appreciate tips without becoming obsessed over them. Otherwise, expectations around tips can affect the kind of service bartenders offer to guests – for instance, giving preferential treatment to some patrons because of how they tip over others.

The attitude towards poor tippers can influence how other customers perceive bartenders. If guests know money is the bartender’s motivator, they may start acting inappropriately.

Also, bartenders must respect the personalities of their customers. Some are introverts while others are always happy to chat. Bartenders should avoid invasive interactions with patrons and not get mad when someone fails to strike a conversation or fails to respond to attempts to chat. If guests are not interested in talking to bartenders, bartenders must learn to smile, serve the guest a drink, and move on.

Know the Alcohol

Bartenders should study and ask questions about various types of alcohols, their qualities, and content, because customers will ask questions related to alcohol brands from time to time. Bartenders can use product knowledge to highlight the uniqueness of different drinks without sounding too technical.

If possible, bartenders should provide free samples of new or superior drinks. Patrons will appreciate it when bartenders suggest good drinks. When they see a guest perusing the menu, a great bartender will suggest something not included in the regular menu. A majority of these guests will take the bartender’s advice, respect them more, and feel special because they see them as an expert. On top of this, bartenders should also expand their knowledge to include cocktail making.

Additional Tips

  • Dress professionally and stay organized

Due to the nature of bartender duties, they attract more attention from guests. It is therefore important to be well-groomed. Simple things such as keeping money neatly help to show that the bartender is well-organized. The way bartenders carry themselves will make patrons respect them.

  • Know when to cut someone off

Bartenders serve people with different personalities and from all walks of life. Some will be fine; others will get intoxicated and become belligerent. The best way to avoid conflicts is to not take challenges with guests personally. That said, bartenders must understand the difference between outright harassment and silly comments.

  • Be patient

Expert bartenders can give customers time to settle or read the menu before asking them what they drink. They can break the ice by asking about how the patron’s day was and then take their attention elsewhere as they make the decision. Sometimes, guests may be waiting to catch up with a new friend.

Bartenders must learn how to chat with patrons and build relationships that exist only within the bar environment while also remaining aware of boundaries and ensuring that guests do not violate them. This skill is just as important as learning how to make cocktails.

BACK