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Food and beverage businesses rely on each and every sale to pay their expenses and eke out profits. Facing tight cash flow and high overhead costs, missed selling opportunities have a noted, negative impact on a restaurant’s bottom line. To avoid leaving money on the table, the most successful restaurant operators pay close attention to sales trends and train service staff to capitalize on every chance to upsell. Boosting drink sales is one way owners push their hospitality ventures to the next level.

Though each food and beverage outlet arrives at its own balance of food and drink tickets, overall beverage sales play a prominent role in the competitive food and beverage industry. Particularly for bar and club owners, drink sales are what keep many establishments in the black. Your geographic location, culinary specialties, and other factors may reduce the degree to which you count on bar receipts, but for most hospitality entrepreneurs, ringing up more drinks boosts profitability.

Whether you’re reworking your beverage program from the ground up, or simply fine-tuning your approach, aiming for better beverage sales can put you on firmer financial footing. Tap these tips to sell more drinks.

Leverage Knowledge for Higher Sales

Highly skilled servers and bartenders share an ability to turn knowledge into profits. With proper training, members of your service staff become expert food and beverage authorities. You can leverage their know-how and understanding to build trust and customer confidence, which ultimately sells more drinks.

The sustained mixology renaissance underway in the US creates opportunities for knowledgeable drink sellers to pump-up bar tab averages. For starters, surging interest in craft cocktails provides an engaged audience, so your patrons’ epicurean curiosity helps loosen their purse strings. Your beverage program should satisfy their thirst in more ways than one, or you risk losing business to better informed competitors.

Is there a new, local distillery in the area? What’s the history behind your signature drink? Why is it shaken, not stirred?  Serving knowledge with every drink backs up your excellent service standards and adds value to the experience. At-ease and well-informed, your customers may be more likely to linger longer and come back more often.

Embrace Beer Culture

Sprout Funding logoProhibition changed the US brewing landscape in a lasting way. The ban reduced the number of domestic breweries to a small concentration of beer producers that were able to weather prohibition and remain intact until its repeal. After decades languishing in mediocrity, the American beer market has finally come back with a vengeance, leading to a glut of regional specialty beers.

Embracing small batch beer production isn’t an isolated trend. Savvy consumers now attach the “craft” label to food and drink of all kinds, leading a culinary race to satisfy public demand for organic, artisanal, hand-crafted and house-made delicacies. If your beverage service hasn’t caught up with the craft-brewed craze, you’re leaving profits on the table.

Many parts of the country are brewery-rich, furnishing local cross-promotion opportunities for restauranteurs. Featuring top local brews on your tap lines attracts brand-loyal drinkers, supporting local beer labels. And adding distinct, special-releases and beers with limited availability can help you break through for higher beverage sales among the most devoted beer aficionados.

Why not partner with a local brewery for a tasting meal at your establishment, pairing their beer with your dishes? Or invite a native brewmaster to tap a ceremonial keg for happy hour or another in-house event? These and other barley-centric moves can help you ride the craft beer movement to higher drink profits.

Learn From Pour Cost Calculations

Serving more drinks is a sure route to higher sales, but you can also boost your beverage program by reducing pour costs. The key metric is used by bar managers to gauge overall profitability from drink sales, during a particular period. The simple calculation is made by adding up the total cost of products used, and then dividing by the value of sales made during the period being assessed. If your beverage receipts total $50,000, for example, with product costs of $13,500, your pour cost percentage is twenty-seven percent.

Each beverage operation faces unique service requirements and pricing conditions, but pour costs for bars commonly fall within the range of approximately 18-24%. According to industry research, the average pour cost for the establishments studied is a little over twenty percent. The figure can be broken-down further to illustrate your most profitable pours and help you achieve the right beverage balance for your bar business. Achieving the median pour cost of about twenty percent, bars averaged a 24% pour cost for beer, 15% for spirits, and 28% for wine.

Because beer and spirits pour at a lower cost than wine does, it’s important to consider the type of business you run, before setting your sights on an ultra-low number. If you’re heavy in wine sales, you can naturally expect higher pour costs than bars rarely serving wine.

Brisk drink sales can lift your bar or restaurant from so-so performance to steady profits. For results you’ll see in your daily sales reports, use beverage knowledge and training to upsell, embrace beer and cocktail trends, and use pour cost calculations to guide your purchasing and pricing decisions.

sprout-fundingThe Sprout Funding blog offers tips, reports, insights and other ideas to help small business owners learn and grow. Have a question for our team? Email us at: info@getsproutfunding.com, and tell us how we can help you.
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