Talking to Customers
Bartenders have to talk to a lot of different people.
It is a big part of the job.
Always keep your head on a swivel.
Conversations with customers can be great for you,
or it can do some damage.
Let’s start with one of the most common screw ups
bartenders make when talking with customers.
They don’t pay attention to the other customers needs, and
don’t see new customers coming into the bar.
They get so involved in the conversation that the other
people get annoyed, because they aren’t getting good service.
When this starts to happen the ignored customers, subconsciously,
start looking for other problems at the bar. This is a problem for the bottom line.
The bar’s and the bartender’s. When people feel ignored they just don’t tip
as well or spend as much. Even an apology doesn’t completely fix it.
When you start a conversation with a customer, you can explain that you need
to look around at the bar while you’re talking, and that you aren’t being rude or
ignoring what they’re saying. Most times the customer will tell you that if you need
to go wait on someone, then go ahead.
Breaking away from a conversation is necessary to wait on other customers.
It is also important for those customers that you want and need to avoid.
Keep things positive.
People can become very negative when they start talking about things.
When the conversation goes in the negative direction, get out. Don’t be
rude, just go busy yourself doing something else.
Sometimes these customers are in everyday. These regulars can become a
real downer for the bar.
That’s when you begin the process of slowly bringing them into a positive
mindset. Only talk about fun things with them. If things start going dark,
bring things back to the positive or break off the conversation.
What this does is conditions the person to have only positive conversations
with you. Over time, sometimes a very long time, this works and helps your
bar become a happier place for customers to enjoy your excellent cocktails.
Do not bad mouth the establishment.
Talking badly about the bar, even when it is bad, is a terrible idea.
This makes you look bad. After all if the place is that bad, why are you there?
Customers will repeat what you say. You might not care at that moment,
but eventually the bad things you say will come back and burn you.
Also don’t say negative things about anyone you work for or with.
“Don’t criticize, condemn or complain” — Dale Carnegie, How to Win Friends and Influence People.
Stay clear of all gossip and rumors. They are a toxic plague in the
industry. Customers often love to spread what they hear and
ask bartenders to confirm what they’ve heard. You know nothing
and you also don’t care.
Don’t burn your business by running your mouth.
Shut up and LISTEN.
People love to hear themselves talk.
As a bartender, you should stop doing that.
When you’re having a conversation with a customer, you should
be listening more than talking.
This serves two purposes.
- You won’t have to stop in the middle of a thought to go
wait on someone else. You just have to politely excuse
yourself and come back when you can.
- People feel important when they’re being listened to.
This makes them feel good, and that usually means a
Now when you get back to the conversation, because you were listening,
you can tell the customer where they left off.
Another benefit to listening takes us back to earlier.
Gossip, rumors and the other garbage that gets talked about will
be told to you.
Just because you shouldn’t repeat it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t
be aware of it.
Everyone wants to participate.
The more you talk to customers, the better you get to know them.
This is very useful when things are getting busy, or boring.
You now have the ability to introduce people that like to talk
about similar things.
DO NOT PLAY MATCHMAKER. You’ll end up losing both customers.
I’m simply saying that most people like to socialize and you can help
that along by learning what your customers like to discuss.
Keep people engaged with what’s going on, by using their common
interests as a conversation starter.
As people realize that they can come into a bar and have a good
conversation, without texting, tweeting and all that other crap,
they start texting and tweeting it. (Do you see what I did there?)
Then other people show up.
With your guidance those people start enjoying real world
Be careful with this “listening” thing. It might cause you
to start making more money.
What to talk about next?
Think about it. All of these people you talk with bring new
and different ideas right to you.
You might find new hobbies or career paths, by engaging in
conversations with these customers.
You will always have something to talk about or bring up
in your own social settings.
Talking to customers goes beyond a simple way to get tips.
When done the right way, people will continue to come and
see you behind whatever bar you’re working.