Bar Technology —Controlling Loss and Driving Customer Base

According to Restaurant Business, bar losses can be staggering—about 23 percent of the bottom line. Almost every establishment is or has had theft in this profitable, yet hard to control, part of the restaurant business.

Here are just a few of the techniques used by those with diminished morals:

  1. Direct Pilfering

Those with pirate tendencies will not hesitate to charge guests for premium drinks while serving well drinks, pocketing the difference. They may overcharge the guest—ringing up $20 and charging the guest $25. Another common deception is keeping the till open so that they can place cash purchases right into the drawer without having to put them into the system. As the evening descends, they will pluck their pilfered cash from the drawer and drop it into their pockets.

  1. Give Away

While offering your guests a complimentary drink every now and then is good business, this type of marketing strategy can get pricey. In addition to providing their favorite guests with free drinks, bartenders may overpour in hopes of getting bigger tips.

  1. Bottles Walking out the Door

You might wonder where someone could hide a whole bottle of liquor as they exit a restaurant. Common scenarios include wearing their best boots into work and then changing into their work shoes. This leaves a suitable hiding spot for your best whiskey as they leave your establishment with boots in hand. And always be wary of employees that arrive with a backpack or extremely large purse in tote.

You are probably aware of the common strategies used to stop theft such as managers checking tills mid-shift, bottle spouts that measure pours, and chips that alert you when expensive bottles walk out the door. What you may not have encountered is the latest bar technology that helps limit theft and promotes increased profits. 

This is where beverage management systems come in. Often inventory loss isn’t discovered quickly enough to pinpoint its origin, but with beverage management systems you can do inventory more often and more accurately. The ability to do constant inventory and quickly report on stock use also has many other benefits.

Read on to find out how beverage management systems are an essential tool for any bar or restaurant.]

Self-Serve Beer Systems

Craft beer is in high demand these days. Unfortunately, it’s easy to keep the tap flowing and sneak in an extra glass that the customer may or may not pay for. According to Pour My Beer, lost profit can add up to about $142 for each keg tapped.

With a self-serve system, every ounce is recorded and charged—whether a full glass or a tasting sample. And your customers don’t have to wait for a busy bartender to make it down to their end of the bar. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve changed my mind about that extra beer by finishing an appetizer before being given the opportunity to place my IPA order.

Keep in mind that companies such as Pour My Beer and I Pour It, Inc. also offer self-serve wine systems.

Ultrasound-Equipped Pour Spouts

According to TechCrunch, restaurants depend on the sale of alcoholic beverages for 60 percent of their revenue. While bars bring in about $200 billion a year, $50 billion falls away due to shrinkage.

Over a year ago, the tech startup, Nectar, introduced pourers and stoppers with ultrasound sensors. They measure and communicate pours in real time, using a software platform to deliver 24/7 inventory management. When a bottle is emptied, Nectar deletes it from the inventory and, if running low, one-touch creates an order that’s emailed to your distributor.

It manages shrinkage, i.e. pilfering, by matching pours and POS transactions.

Their subscription service starts at $300 per month.

Now that you’ve got control of your inventory, let’s take a look at what new technology can drive customers through your doors.

Liquor in Ice

The newer generations are all about experience. A bar venue that creates the new and unusual is a sure draw. One of the newer technologies to hit the market is liquor in ice. Not only does this technology produce smooth, cold, full-flavored drinks, it can also create progressive cocktails that start out as one drink and morph into another. Pretty cool.

Beyond Zero offers a fully automatic unit for restaurants and bars that freezes wine, beer, and spirits—turning them into ice.

Artistic Expressions i.e. Molecular Mixology

Other bars are turning to molecular mixology to create other-worldly visions. Combining house-made infusions and blends with liquid nitrogen, blowtorches, or smoke guns allows restaurants to create Instagram worthy cocktails and experiences that are hard to match.

At The Aviary in New York City, Micah Melton created Melton’s How Does Snoop Dogg Use Lemongrass? cocktail. It combines liquid nitrogen and ginger juice to create a snow that is garnished with herbs and lemongrass. Guests then pour a sidecar of vodka over the concoction.

In Toronto, BarChef’s offers a Vanilla and Hickory Smoked Manhattan that uses hickory wood, a vanilla pod, and a blowtorch to create a thick cloud of hickory smoke.

Let’s face it…the world is changing. While some of us believe liquid nitrogen should be left at the doctor’s office, a majority crave the new and unusual. For better or worse, technology is changing the face and function of the restaurant industry. While staying up on the latest trends can be time consuming and, at times, overwhelming, the biggest risk is not taking any risk. Make it fun, live your dreams, and remember the wise words of Sean Gerety, “The technology you use impresses no one. The experience you create with it is everything.”


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