Most everyone understands that bartenders do more than pour and mix. Have you ever met a surly bartender? Probably not, because most bartenders know they serve an important customer service and business ambassador role when they’re behind the counter. That makes their ability to hold quick and fun conversations with patrons really important to leaving a positive impression. Whether the bartender is in a restaurant, hotel or bar, small talk is an important part of their skill set. Here’s what bartenders can do to practice the art of customer banter.
Bartender Trick #1 – Master the positive greeting
Customer service improves when a bartender can make their guests feel at home. Greeting people that come in and asking about their day is a good way to break the ice. As you’re chatting, place a napkin on the counter and ask them what they’d like to drink.
Bartender Trick #2 – Give them a good deal and they’ll come back
As you’re chatting, let customers know if they’re in the midst of happy hour. Are there any appetizer or drink discounts going on? Try to ask friendly open-ended questions designed to get people to chat with you. This is a good time to gauge how much the patron really wants to talk. Some people just want to be left alone, so make sure to give those folks the space they need.
Bartender Trick #3 – Have some drink suggestions ready
When customers don’t know exactly what they want, try to have a few suggestions ready for drinks they might enjoy. It will demonstrate your competence as a bartender while making the customer continue to feel taken care of. If they want the same old drink, suggest a different type of liquor to change things up a bit.
Bartender Trick #4 – Don’t forget about them
Check in after providing the customer with a drink to find out if they like it. Do they need anything else? Can you continue the prior discussion you struck up when they first came in? This ongoing banter serves an important purpose; you’ll be able to gauge their alcohol saturation point and whether they should continue or perhaps have coffee or water instead.
Bartender Trick #5 – Avoid hard conversations
If you want the patron to return, never talk about controversial subjects over a bar top. Instead, keep things light, fun and respectful. Don’t make it too familiar by asking the person’s name or too many intimate details.
Esquire has a good quote about bartenders and small talk, “A good small talker listens, speaks wisely, responds. He doesn’t make you uncomfortable, and he doesn’t discuss religion. He could care less about politics.” We agree completely.
A good bartender is also a good conversationalist. The fact that these professionals can hold multiple simultaneous chatter sessions while still mixing a Tom Collins is kind of amazing. Ultimately, these skills build the business brand and keep the customers satisfied and wanting more.