Bad Beer Pours are Killing Your Profits

Your bar display is probably your proudest piece of work.

Your rows of bottles are all placed strategically.

Customers are excited to try the creative cocktails you’ve worked so hard on.

But, what’s really drawing in your regulars? And what’s attracting new customers? (And bonus, what’s doing so with a higher profit margin?)

Draft beer.

What was once thought of as a hipster fad is now in the midst of a game-changing renaissance.

With breweries large and small quickly snowballing in growth and popularity, it’s crucial to optimize your profits with some killer beer options.

If you have a variety of flavors, ales, and IPAs in place, you’re already a step ahead of your competition.

If not, it might be time to add some brews to the menu.

But, you can’t just snap your fingers and rake in beer-based profits. There’s a lot to pay attention to.

Because as easily as beer can make you money, it can drain it, too.

Is your beer stored at the perfect temperature (as in, nowhere above 38º F). Are you managing your kegs properly?

Questions like that – as well as proper bar cost management – are ones that often slip restaurant owner’s minds when adding a beer-filled bar to their restaurant. That’s why we’ve got all the ways to stop bad beer pours from drowning your profits.  

Beer is for Drinking, Not Draining.

Pouring a beer requires little effort on the part of your bartender.

Tilting a glass to avoid foam is way easier than measuring out mixers and shaking a cocktail.

More often than not, this leads to beer being used as more of a “quick fix” than a high-ticket item.

A table of customers waiting on a backed-up kitchen, growing restless? Offer a round of beer.

A group from out of town, enjoying happy hour on their company card? Throw some local beers their way to keep them around.

It’s sometimes a smarter move in the long run – it keeps people in the doors and spending more cash.

But, it’s far too easy to get heavy-handed. You can’t be knocking back two or three pints every night with your staff, or offering every regular a free round.

You have to know when to draw the line. At some point, your customers aren’t just gulping down beer, they’re gulping down your money and walking it out the door.

You don’t have to come down on them with the iron fist. In fact, no one should know you’re curbing their good time.

The key is to keep your staff trained and vigilant.

You don’t have to set up hidden cameras and elaborate checks to follow them, but you have to emphasize that you’re keeping an eye out.

Set a limit on how many freebies are allowed throughout the night. On top of that, put established systems in place to track exactly how much you’re spending – and potentially losing.

After all, there’s a fine line between keeping customers happy, and losing hard-earned money.

The Art of Craft

If beer’s a popular drink order, you should be aware of what kinds sell, and which don’t.

If you’re not, it’s easy to find out simply by tracking your sales.

Your light beers will likely be a consistent hit. The same can be said for a standard local IPA and seasonal lagers.

But it’s not that easy to know off the bat which beers will do well, and which ones won’t. That coffee chocolate stout with pumpkin that only sells to one niche group around October? Probably not a good move to offer it in May.

The right balance between novelty and widespread appeal is vital.

Focus on rotating the menu and keeping it fresh. Utilize local breweries. Have a variety of flavors, styles, and types ready to go.

Big U.S and international beers will always sell. But the draw of smaller, more rare beer flavors can be massive.

Last year, craft beer retail sales reached a staggering $28.4 billion. By not tapping into this, you’re letting profits pass you by.

But again, if your customers aren’t buying, then you shouldn’t either. Don’t waste money on a beer simply to say you carry it.

The Gross of Gross

The other issue with beer is when it’s…kind of gross

But you might not know what condition your beer is in until it’s sipped.

When a customer orders what they think is going to be a crisp, refreshing drink and instead get a flat, warm mess, it’s the stuff of nightmares.

And it’s embarrassing for you as a restaurant owner.

The easiest way to avoid stale beer by constantly keeping tabs on what’s selling well for you.

If you have product that’s sitting in kegs with a layer of dust on them, they’re probably not your most profitable. And those particular kegs are also probably no good.

What you have to do is make sure you’re not over-ordering, and being left with beer you can’t sell because it’s gone bad. That’s cash poured right into the trash instead of a pint glass.

Keeping your selection fresh and knowing your bestsellers can help you make cost-effective decisions.

Having a Good (Non-Foamy) Head on Your Shoulders.

Do you remember that picture from April of 2016 when Hillary Clinton poured a beer that was all foam?

While it’s funny when it happens at a college party, you’re actually losing money with every foamy pour in your restaurant’s bar.

25% of the foam is beer. Plus, the entire glass is unappealing when there’s more head than ale.

There are easy ways to avoid pouring foam. Making sure the pressure on your kegs isn’t set too high and controlling the temperature strictly ensures that the CO2 released with each pour is the right amount.

Too much CO2, and we can have a disaster on our hands of epic, sudsy proportions.

You, your bartenders, and bar backs should know how to properly manage your kegs.

Plus, with new technology for beer storage and regulation constantly rolling out, there is no excuse for pouring crappy pints.

When you see your beer froth, you’re seeing your profits froth too.

Paid Attention

“Chill” is a word you hear a lot around beer culture.

A chilled class. A chill round of beers. A chill bar atmosphere.

But not knowing where your money is off to? Not chill.

Those few free rounds you’ve given out, or that bartender who pours out half the beer each time he has too much foam are doing you more harm than good.

The keg you promised yourself you’d check on that you’ve discovered sitting in the back room is a complete wash.

There are ways to cut your losses that take the load off. And it starts with you simply paying attention,

Understand how your sales compare to your purchases. This will help you narrow your margins and grow your business.

Or you can just find technology that does it all for you.

CONCLUSION: Make the Pour Choice and Lower Your Bar Costs.

You shouldn’t be afraid to add some beers to your bar.

And once you do, keeping them profitable shouldn’t sip up your time.

There are simple, easy methods that exist to keep your beer pouring and your cash flowing.

Especially when it comes to your bar costs.

With Orderly, all you have to do is take pictures of your invoices and update your sales – and you’ll get an accurate COGS for your bar.

This means you don’t have to bend over a keg and shake it to estimate how much is left. Heck, you don’t even have to count your kegs if you’re looking to measure your costs.

With add-ons for operating your restaurant’s bar, you can see exactly where you lose the most money with your bar costs.

Plus, Orderly sends price recommendations to let you know when you’re paying more for booze than other local restaurants. It also builds you a simple budget, to ensure you’re not spending more than you should.

Spending less time counting and more time running your restaurant (and bar) used to be a dream. Now, with Orderly, you can get accurate numbers in a fraction of the time.

Letting fewer pints and profits go down the drain is what’s going to bring you the success you’re looking for.

Orderly can make your beer pour decisions the best decisions you make, every time.

Danny Barry

As Orderly's Content Marketing Manager, Danny is always in the weeds of the restaurant business. He's having conversations. He's scouring the internet for research. He's writing until his fingers start to hurt. And it's all to help you run a smarter restaurant. When he's not writing about restaurants, Danny can be found eating at restaurants. Or, you may find him cheering on his beloved Miami Hurricanes.

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