Keep Your Bar Perfectly Stocked with our Cheat Sheet

Running a profitable bar or restaurant is no easy task.

You know it. We know it.

There are dozens – if not hundreds – of moving pieces to keep in the back of your mind at all times.

Your precious inventory of libations. Your band of employees. Your endless stack of invoices.

Margins are slim, and keeping everything firing on all cylinders is a constant uphill battle, to say the least.

So it’s going to take a lot more than those incredible happy hour specials you’ve got on tap to make your bar reach its true potential.

Because, like we said, managing a successful bar doesn’t come easy.

But, it doesn’t have to be a constant headache.

It’s the 21st century, after all…

Tech has steadily improved.

And there’s been more than a few trial and errors to look to in a bar scene that dates back to, heck, the start of civilization.

And the winning ingredients are more than just the mint, bitters, syrups, and juices your bartenders are shaking up…

With that in mind, we’ve compiled a handy and straight-to-the-point “Stock the Bar” Cheat Sheet.

It will provide you with all the tips and tricks you’ll ever need on how to run a bar, from making sure your booze is always stocked to significantly reducing your costs.

Your customers won’t ever have to go thirsty again.

And you’ll have everything you need to be successful and more profitable, in no time.

Here it is. The best bar checklist in the biz.

Download it here or keep reading below.

#1: Know Thyself and Thy Alcohol Partaking Clientele

If you’re running a self-proclaimed “Dive Bar” and restaurant, then it’s probably a solid idea to ditch the 25-year-old bottle of scotch and focus a bit more on the PBR-end of the spectrum.

Running an Italian restaurant? Then you should probably cultivate your wine list, not your Mezcal selection.

On the other hand, let’s say your restaurant and bar have been in the game for a while.

What’s been selling well?

Craft beers? Bourbon? White wine? Whatever it is, buy more.

Let your clientele guide your purchasing.

If all that sounds very self-explanatory, you’d be right. But, then again, you’d be surprised by the number of money bars and restaurants blow on poor inventory decisions.

Don’t be that guy (or gal).

#2: ‘Tis The Season for… Something Different

Every bar has their fair share of regulars. And their orders tend to be… well, regular.

That doesn’t mean your bar shouldn’t prepare for more adventurous tastes than a Budweiser or a classic gin and tonic.

Of course, this doesn’t require you to have absinthe flights or six different types of cider hanging out on your shelves. Be reasonable and accommodating to new tastes.

Try to cover all your bases while still aiming to, first and foremost, satisfy your general clientele.

But, a bit of experimentation never hurt anyone…

Play around with your beer and cocktail lineups every now and then. It’s a good way to keep customers on their toes and your bar fresh.

Once again, though, always monitor your sales. Dropping cash on seasonal beer or unique cocktail concoctions that aren’t piquing anyone’s interest isn’t exactly what we would call a wise business decision.

But don’t worry – with that super handy restaurant tech we mentioned above (and will get to later), it won’t take a lot of your time to keep a weekly count of your liquor sales.

This means you have more time to run your business and plan for the next season.

#3: Bar the Bar From Theft and Waste

We said it once and we’ll say it again: Margins are slim in the bar and restaurant industry.

Needless to say, it doesn’t take a whole lot to crash your bar’s ambitions.

So be proactive and nip those poor decisions in the bud before they go wrong.

Overpours are one of the most common examples of unnecessary bar waste and lost profits.

Just think about it. Your POS counts sales based on a specific pour. If your bartender is overpouring for everyone and their mothers, your numbers will be wildly off.

Bartenders also often comp drinks for customers. Sure, this can boost reputation and customer service, but when overdone, it can severely drain your bar or restaurant’s margins.

And, of course, make sure your bartenders aren’t stealing any of your breadwinning alcohol.

All of these things can be combated before they ever happen with the help of proper training and consistent monitoring.

We’re not saying be Big Brother, but just keep a watchful eye on things – so that way any time your COGS changes, you know exactly why.

#4: Some Drinks are Enjoyed More Than Others

When it comes to monitoring usage, you’ll need to count your ingredients.

But you don’t have to spend an entire day counting every bottle of liquor in stock. Rather, you should focus most of your attention on your most popular items.

Are those Vodka Cranberries getting ordered faster than you can make them?

Your well liquors, light beers, popular mixers… These high volume ingredients should be counted weekly so you know exactly how much you are using.

That fancy-pants, super expensive Scotch with the hard-to-pronounce name? Probably not.

As a general rule, medium and low-use items don’t need to be counted weekly.

Set up a weekly rotation.

Some medium and low-volume items this week, others next week. And so forth and so on.

As long as you’re counting all of your inventory at least once a month!

Even though you’re not counting your expensive, low-usage liquors each week, you shouldn’t get complacent about them.

Still be mindful of theft or random, a significant bump in sales.

This way, you can keep tabs on sporadically used items without losing hours of your valuable time that could be spent more positively elsewhere in your bar.

#5: High Tech + Low Costs = $$$

Like we mentioned, it’s 2023. And time to ditch the techniques bars were using in the prohibition era.

Nowadays, there’s restaurant tech. A lifesaver for any bar or restaurant owner who’s ever used it.

No more mind-numbing record keeping.

And no more long days spent stressing over your invoices and inventory.

Put simply, the right technology will do the heavy lifting for you.

Think automated accounting, paperless invoicing, and ready-to-go numbers all on your mobile device.

It’s that easy. So, hey, why not?

Your bottom line, significant other, and blood pressure will all be thankful.

Plus, using outdated systems will inevitably lead to skewed numbers.

Counting and entering your bar’s numbers manually is much more prone to human error. And, let’s face it, humans get lazy and careless sometimes. Especially overworked humans who work nights and weekends.

Don’t let your numbers get fudged. Get technology that will simplify your life and save you cash.

Conclusion: Stocking the Bar Just Got a Whole Lot Easier

With this cheat sheet, as well as implemented, intuitive restaurant tech, you’ll be able to navigate your bar through the highs and lows – and find that things just got a whole lot easier for you.

Your bar will be profitable and your restaurant will be too… Guaranteed.

But, what’s best is that your stress levels will drop and you’ll be ready to attack the dinner rush.

With Orderly, you’ll always be able to quickly access your COGS. And you’ll never have to do the calculations yourself.

Profitability numbers? check. Recommendations? check. Flash reports? check.

It’s never been easier to know where your bar is spending too much.

And you’ll be more prepared than ever to talk to your suppliers and lower your costs.

All just by snapping invoices with your phone and updating your sales.

Just pull up the app and have everything about your bar at your fingertips.

It’s that simple.

More knowledge, more savings and more free time… What’s not to like?

Spending all of your time on inventory is no longer a necessity. The tools and strategies are there to take your bar to the next level.

Use them and ensure your bar stays on top of its game.

The competition out there is tough. Beat it with Orderly.

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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