So you’ve taken the plunge and added cocktails to your menu or you’ve revamped your offering to add in signature serves... Congratulations! Now it’s crucial to make sure your team knows what’s going on and have confidence to sell and make cocktails.
Whether your staff are cocktail pros or novices, staff training is key to the success of your new menu. Making sure your staff are up to speed and confident with your cocktail menu is key to ensuring delicious consistent cocktails for all of your guests.
This article will cover everything you need to consider to get your staff up to speed on your new cocktail menus.
Let’s get straight into it!
BENEFITS OF STAFF TRAINING
There is no doubt that the knowledgeable, intelligent, creative and cheerful staff can
help leverage your business. Some of the key benefits of investing in your staff are:
Cocktail training will make your staff more motivated to apply their new skills and cocktail knowledge when serving customers in the bar. They become more enthusiastic and confident in what they are doing and know exactly what’s being asked from them.
Motivation leads to increased productivity and lower staff turnover, which is a big advantage for your business - you will have the most knowledgeable and skilled staff in town. For the initial launch try incentivising sales, e.g. give a reward to the person who made the most cocktail sales over the launch weekend, or reward the staff member who received the highest number of positive reviews online.
Increased job satisfaction;
Closely tied to motivation, job satisfaction is when employees feel good about what they do and feel valued by the company. Not only does it retain staff, but it also shows them that they have access to on-the-job learning and development resulting in more experience and possibly leading to promotions in the future.
Hiring new staff is costly to your business - it is a time-consuming process of placing ads, looking through CVs, interviewing, updating files, taking them through an induction and then training etc.
Losing an employee is costly, too - they walk away with all that knowledge and experience you’ve given them. Most of them don’t just leave - they go and work with your competitor.
Trained staff will become confident with your new menu which will translate into confidence in the workplace resulting in the ability to problem solve in difficult situations (remember the time when the orders have been mixed up, or the bar got overcrowded and extremely busy?)
This is the key advantage to your business - motivated, enthusiastic, knowledgeable and skilled staff will attract and retain customers. In turn, loyal customers will talk about your cocktails and their superb experience on social networks, thus attracting more customers.
A FEW WORDS ON LEADERSHIP
Leadership is an important aspect of working with a team. Try to understand what personalities you are working with, each individual’s needs and potential (often hidden).
The objective is to make the team excited for the practical training days as well as learning the new menu and cocktails ingredients. They should feel a sense of purpose and common goal to work towards.
Before starting training, communicate why you are doing it, why it is important for your business and venue, why your customers need and want this change, and how you are going to incentivise your staff for their hard work. Also, don’t shy away from getting an external trainer - lots of spirit brands will have designated brand ambassadors who will take your team on the product journey for free.
Before starting training, provide your staff with the new menu so that they can familiarise themselves and learn what is in each of the cocktails. For staff that are new to shaking up cocktails, the addition of cheat sheets for the ingredients in each cocktail and basic information on the tools used to create them will provide additional support in getting them up to speed.
Here’s what you can provide:
Our Tips&Tricks section has an abundance of tools which you might find useful. Download, print and distribute them in your venue
If you have visual learners on the team, those cheat sheets will make their day. They learn by reading or seeing pictures, understand and remember things by sight.
Handing out supporting materials is not everything - some of the team members rely on practical sessions to learn the menus. Keep in mind many loyal customers keep coming back for that brilliant customer service and friendly staff but not because that staff know all the recipes by heart.
Next, schedule a review session where you run through the menu with staff outlining new cocktails, glassware used for each, garnishes and any promotions. This will give them a better idea of what they will be serving.
Dedicate time for a Q&A with yourself and make sure your staff are comfortable asking lots of questions - this is the best time to make sure you are all on the same page.
Don’t forget new staff - they may be feeling a little overwhelmed but that’s okay! Match them with a buddy who will be the designated mentor - this way you are delegating and showing trust to the long-standing team members, teaching them people management skills and also making sure your new starters have a support mechanism within the team.
MAKING AND TASTING SESSION
After you’ve run through the menu and menu-related details, it’s time to practice and taste your cocktails. Practicing making the drinks ensures the staff are confident with each of the serves.
Nearly half of customers choose a cocktail based on the flavour profile of the cocktail. That's why tasting in these sessions is key so that your bar and floor staff feel more confident providing recommendations to customers. We at Funkin have assets which showcase how best to make effective cocktail recommendations.
For staff that are new to cocktails, this gives them a chance to familiarise themselves with equipment and how to garnish cocktails.
LAUNCH AND PERFORMANCE REVIEW
It’s time for launch. Ask how your staff are feeling, whether they have any more questions or concerns. There’s always a sense of urgency and rush of nerves when a big change is happening in the work place, so it is up to the management and the senior staff to ensure all the preparation is done correctly. Don’t forget - if you have 9 hours to cut down a tree, spend the first 8 sharpening the axe - PREPARATION IS KEY.
Have an open-door policy with your staff to ask questions after launch and provide any personal or guest feedback. Your staff can provide some great insights from the launch night and are the best people to be asking for feedback.
Review your menu based on staff and customer feedback as well as sales mix, to ensure you have the right cocktails on your menu and make changes where needed. Start small and build up your cocktail repertoire - who knows, your bar might be the next addition to the UK’s top cocktail bars!
Good luck with your launch!