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Sunday, July 28, 2013

The Bartender's Lesson In Finance

One of my favorite projects was 3½ months as the general manager of a country club while a search was under way for a new GM.

My goal was to improve the performance of the dining and grill rooms, increase diner volume, and grow revenue from this area of the club.

To record sales, each area had a terminal for the central a point of sale (POS) system. Each night after the club closed, the POS was closed out and reconciled. My first night, the bartender, who typically did the close out, helped me learn the process and printed the tape with details of the close, including the gross receipts for the day.

When we were done, I took the tape and asked his estimate of the gross receipts amount – he said he had no idea. I asked for his best guess – I showed him the amount...he was way off. The next night he was closer and after about a week he was within a few hundred dollars of the actual amount.

The next night, as I was locking up the club, the bartender did the close out and was waiting for me with a Cheshire cat smile – when I went to start the close, he was standing there holding the tape, with a hand over the gross receipts figure. His smile got bigger when he ASKED ME for an estimate of the receipts for the day! After a quick mental review, I told him the figure – it was within $75 of the actual amount.

I told the bartender that having an accurate feel for the receipts is important – the same is true for general costs as well. I gave him an estimate of the daily combined labor cost for servers, cooks, bartenders, and other dining staff – he immediately said – on Tuesday we don't even take in that much.

My turn to have a huge smile as he says that knowing costs and receipts gives him some tools to manage our operations better. How I ask? The bartender, standing a little taller, says we can have fewer staff on hand for the lighter days, or send them home early based on the diner volume – servers, cooks, and others. Also we could do some specials or deals to promote more activity on the light days.

He got it – make adjustments in the cost and revenue sides of the ledger to better balance operating results. By knowing how the receipts and costs relate, and honing his ability to accurately estimate the key figures, he became more valuable to the club.

With his new outlook, the bartender was making a greater impact on the club's bottom line and in a short time was promoted to a more responsible role (and more $$).

A lesson well learned and applied to get positive results.


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