4 Tips for Rock-Solid Beverage Management at Your Franchise Restaurant
Bars are big business for full-service restaurant franchises. In fact, the average Quaker Steak & Lube restaurant receives 20 percent of total sales from alcohol, including beer, liquor and wine.
On the flip side however, a bar can turn into a liability for owners when mismanaged. As any restaurant operator can attest, there’s a lot of room for human error in day-to-day operations. Twenty-three percent of drinks are over-poured, wasted or given away for free without being tracked, according to Partender, a bar inventory management tool that Quaker Steak & Lube uses. And the culmination of these mistakes can have a major impact on a restaurant’s bottom line.
With that much at stake, it’s critical for restaurant owners to invest in processes and technology that allow them to capitalize on the revenue-generating opportunities that bars provide. Here are four ways franchise restaurant owners can solidify their beverage management protocols:
1. Invest in Robust Training Programs
Bar and beverage inventory management training is important for owner/operators, bar managers and bartenders. Each party involved in bar operations needs to be on the same page with respect to new beverage menu offerings, understanding the importance of tracking each drink and how to use bar inventory technology to the greatest possible advantage.
“We go out to the field and train our bar staff and managers right in their restaurants,” explained Shannon Salupo, corporate beverage manager for Quaker Steak & Lube.
Salupo emphasizes that she and the team of Quaker Steak field trainers always provide a thorough explanation for why certain practices are put in place, such as the protocol for bar inventory and how frequently it should occur.
Another element of a robust training program headed up by Quaker Steak field support is the introduction of new and limited-time offers (LTOs). Ensuring all bartenders not only know how to make LTO drinks, but also know how to upsell them to restaurant guests helps ensure operators maximize all the benefits of the LTOs and keep product moving. This also factors into the analysis of whether or not an LTO beverage is successful.
2. Track at the Tap
With the growth of the craft beer market, restaurant operators have a lot to gain by offering national and local craft brews. Retail sales of craft beer reached $26 billion in 2017, making up nearly one-quarter of the U.S. beer market.
At Quaker Steak & Lube, roughly 75 percent of each restaurant’s tap handles are a mix of national recognized domestic, import and craft beers that each hold a large market share. This allows franchisees plenty of freedom to select beers from local craft breweries or microbreweries for their restaurants. This flexibility is just another way operators are able to make adjustments in their restaurants to accommodate the local community’s preferences.
Quaker Steak & Lube franchisees also have access to technology that helps ensure they reap the greatest profit possible from their beer taps. Restaurant owners use BeerSaver, a cloud-based software that integrates with the restaurant’s point-of-sales (POS) system and connects to the flow meters in the cooler room or keg box. Using a desktop, smartphone or tablet, franchisees are able to see real-time information on pours, sales and inventory, as well as beer temperature and if a beer line requires maintenance. This has proved to be a valuable tool for Quaker Steak operators to reduce their costs and increase margins.
3. Streamline Inventory Management
One of the major reasons restaurant owners that operate a bar see unexpected losses is because of inefficient—or inconsistent—bar inventory practices. Without the right technology, inventory is an arduous manual task involving spreadsheets that are prone to mistakes because of human error.
One way Quaker Steak & Lube franchisees are able to avoid this issue with respect to bar inventory is Partender, a mobile app that owners can install on tablets and smartphones to measure and track inventory levels with up to 99.2 percent accuracy. Instead of guessing at the amount of liquor remaining in a bottle and the equivalent dollar value, Partender tracks inventory by taking a picture of the bottle and moving a slider on the screen to match the bottle’s liquid level. Additionally, multiple people can be using different devices to track inventory simultaneously, which reduces the time it takes to complete the task.
Two big advantages for franchisees using the Partender system are time-savings and accuracy, Salupo explained. Restaurant owners are able to reduce costs associated with shrinkage, as well as payroll since excessive amounts of time are no longer being spent on inventory.
4. Incentivize Top-Level Performance
Even with the right technology and training in place, it’s important for restaurant owners to give their team members an added layer of motivation that keeps them pushing to be the best.
Quaker Steak & Lube restaurants regularly hold competitions among their teams for overall sales, LTO sales, most accurate inventory management or any number of objectives for operating a top-performing bar. For example, one Quaker Steak & Lube restaurant operator gave his general manager tickets to the Super Bowl, including airfare and accommodations, for earning the highest sales figures.
While not all contests need to yield such a fantastic prize as the biggest game in pro football, holding regular competitions among team members—in line with specific goals to boost unit-level performance—can generate stronger engagement and excitement among team members.
When effectively managed, a bar—or, as in the case of Quaker Steak & Lube, multiple bars—can be a great way to bolster revenue as a restaurant franchise owner. Quaker Steak operators also have the added advantage of an experienced support team and access to industry-leading technology to help ensure they’re capitalizing on bar sales.
Learn more about franchising with Quaker Steak & Lube by filling out our franchise application today.