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What to Expect When You Become a Bar Manager

Picture the scene. You’ve been working in a bar for nine months, you’ve formed some great friendships and you now work within a family, not a bar team. You’ve been performing consistently well for a while now, and your general manager takes you to their office and offers you a promotion. Success! You’ve been promoted to bar manager. You’re in charge. You’ve got more responsibilities. You’re getting more money (hopefully). What’s going to happen next?

Quite a few things will change during the months after your promotion to bar manager. Check out our advice below and get a headstart in your new position.

From Friend to Bar Manager

This is all too often one of the most overlooked and underappreciated aspects of becoming a bar manager. Your relationships are going to change, the dynamic of your bar family will shift and if you’ve accepted a job in a different establishment to the one you currently work in, then you face a different set of challenges, most notably the fact that you’re going to be the “head” of a family that you don’t know that well.

Now, in bar teams, it’s only natural that you will form close relationships: you’ll joke together, you’ll drink together and you’ll eat together. However, as a bar manager, you’ll suddenly find that you might not be able to do as much of that as you once used to.

You may have to work through your dinner or miss out on drinks after work a few times but it's all worth it in the long run. One important thing to remember as a bar manager is that you can’t show your friends any favoritism or leniency otherwise you’ll have a mutiny on your hands faster than you can make a Caipirinha.

Bartender job application in a bar

There’s Loads of Good Stuff Too

It isn’t all doom and gloom. There are bonuses to having well-established friendships and working your way through the bar’s ups and downs and then becoming the king of the castle.

Firstly, you’ll have the trust of your peers. They’ve been with you through the quiet days and tough nights. They know that you know what you’re doing (even if on the inside you’re screaming with fear) and they will follow you into battle because of that.

Establishing trust can be one of the hardest things to do when taking charge of a team as a bar manager, and the chances are you’ve already established it.

Secondly, you already know how best to work with your team. Bar managers are essential for keeping the bar running smoothly and part of that includes having to work on the bar if things get a bit hairy.

Make Yourself Better

Just because you were promoted it doesn’t mean you’re the best you can be. You’re now the point of call for everyone else. If anyone has a question about a drink, it’s you they’re going to ask. If a customer wishes to speak to a manager about anything, it’s you they want to speak to. Spirit reps and brand ambassadors? You’re their new contact.

Your thirst for knowledge needs to increase. Go to any training sessions you find. Read those books that have been on the back bar for years covered in dust.

Don’t be afraid or ashamed to ask questions of your superiors or of your peers in similar positions. The bar industry is great because there’s always someone willing to help out.

Some Final Words

One of the most important things to remember, and it is repeated all over the internet is, “Never ask someone to do something you wouldn’t be willing to do yourself”. This should be the new cliché that is printed out and on put on the walls of workplaces everywhere.

Another good quote to remember is: “Look after your employees, and they’ll look after your customers.”  Make sure you focus on your staff and treat them correctly and fairly, and they’ll reciprocate with their performance behind the bar.

Looking for a job as a Bar Manager? Click here! 

Want to improve your skills as a bartender? Follow this link!

Updated by Sofia - February 2018

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