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8 Tips For Successful Bar Setup

Written by:
Yevhenii Avramenko

Setting up a successful bar is not an easy task. From attracting customers to making sure you have enough staff on hand, there are many components that go into getting your bar up and running. The basic aim is that you want your customers to have an amazing time. 

However it's not always easy when competing against other bars. Want to stand out from all of those competitors and run smoothly without any hiccups? In this article, we will share 8 tips to make your bar a success:

Choose the right location

There are many factors to consider when choosing a location for your bar, including foot traffic, competition, and zoning regulations.  

Footfall is important for any business, but it is especially critical for a bar. You want to be located in an area where people are out and about – this will increase the chances that people will drop into your bar for a drink. 

Zoning regulations are another important factor to consider. Make sure your chosen location is zoned for commercial use and that you can get the necessary permits to operate a bar.

If there are already a lot of bars in the area, you might have a tougher time attracting customers. However, it is better to have competition than to open up in an isolated place where very few people will turn up. 

Make sure to do your research before signing a lease. It is nice to take a few surveys from customers who visit the area and get their opinion about the type of bar atmosphere they would prefer, the type of service they like and what is missing in the existing bars in that area.   

MAD Bars House in Lviv, Ukraine by YOD Design Lab

Create a theme or concept

Think about what will make your bar unique and appealing to customers, and then work towards creating that atmosphere.

Some important factors to consider when creating a concept or theme include:

- The type of atmosphere you want to create

- The type of customers you want to attract

- The overall look and feel of the space

Your bar’s atmosphere should be inviting and exciting, so take some time to come up with a theme or concept that will set it apart from the rest. 

One concept can be to have a seating plan similar to the one in the image below:

In such a setting, the bartenders are a very important part of the overall user experience. 

Rooftop bars are gaining in popularity, thanks to popular TV shows showing the views of urban skyscrapers so this can be an attractive option if you have that open space. 

Keep things running smoothly

Similar to a restaurant, a bar that has its seating planned out can be run more smoothly. A floor plan is especially helpful for special occasions when the bar becomes crowded and there is a need to serve customers faster and in an efficient manner. This article by Lightspeed about restaurant floor plans explains the details about having a floor plan, how to design it and what to consider.

Here is a key takeaway from the article: calculate the square footage per customer to estimate the maximum number of people that can be hosted in the bar. This can allow you to plan for rush hours when the bar is crowded and is operating at full capacity. You can train your bartenders on handling the bar at full capacity so that things keep running smoothly.    

Mamba Bar designed by Hitzig Militello Architects

Train your staff properly

Your bartenders are the face of your business, so make sure to train them well. They should know how to make all of your signature drinks, as well as how to handle difficult customers. 

It is important to train your staff to keep your bar clean and organized at all times. A messy bar is not only unappealing to customers, but it can also lead to accidents and health code violations. Make sure to sweep and mop the floors regularly, wipe down surfaces, and wash glasses after each use. 

In addition, they should be trained in first aid and CPR in case of an emergency.

Your bartenders and server should be knowledgeable about the menu and able to provide excellent customer service. 

Keep an eye on your finances

Running a bar is an expensive endeavor, so it's important to keep track of your finances. Know how much you're spending on liquor, supplies, and staff salaries so that you can make adjustments as needed. 

Make sure the drinks and other menu items are competitively priced. You need to calculate the cost price, add your profit margin and then decide the prices accordingly. 

Do a competitor research before deciding the prices. It is sensible to have a lower price as compared to your competitors especially if you are setting up and looking to get things running. 

Additionally, set some money aside each month for repairs and unexpected expenses. 

Rabbit Habit bar in Kyiv, Ukraine by YOD Design Lab

Stock up on supplies

This one seems like a no-brainer, but the most important aspect of setting up a bar is planning how to manage your liquor inventory. 

You need to know how much liquor you have on hand at all times so that you can avoid running out during a busy night. Keep track of what's selling and restock accordingly. It's also a good idea to have a backup supply of liquor in case of an emergency.

The first step to success is ensuring that you're using good quality ingredients. Not only will this make your drinks taste better, but it will also save you money in the long run as you won't have to replace your liquor as often. 

Make sure to stock up on glassware, mixers, garnishes, and other supplies. In addition to that, use online resources or speak to industry experts to find the best products for your bar.

Be prepared for the unexpected

No matter how well you plan, there will always be unforeseen circumstances. Be prepared for anything and everything!

If you're running a bar in a high-crime area, it's a good idea to hire a security guard when you are setting up. A security guard will deter potential criminals and can help keep your customers safe. In addition, they can also help break up fights and handle other difficult situations.

It pays off to get liability insurance in such a case as it can protect you from any lawsuits that may arise from accidents or injuries that occur on your property. 

You do not want to put all your effort into setting up the bar, just to get caught in a draining lawsuit. So, make sure to speak with an insurance agent to find the best policy for your business.

Get the Word Out!

The last step of setting up your bar setup is to promote your new place. Promoting the bar through social media and flyers is a way to make sure potential customers know where to find you. A bar is such a place that you probably will not need to promote it for a long time. If the bar is planned properly and things are on-point, word-of-mouth marketing will do the job for you.

Your goal is only to attract the initial few customers and make sure they have the best time. They are sure to share their experiences with their friends and colleagues. So, the next time they come, they might bring their friends along.

To make customers become regular at the bar, you can also offer discounts or free drinks as an incentive. You can also get the word out by hosting special occasions such as the screening of a popular match. People will come to check out your event and if your service is great, they too might become regular. 

If you are in a location that is not too popular or has other bars around, it might be a good idea to put up some flyers and post them on social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram. You can even offer discounts or promotions to those who follow you on social media. 

Wrapping Up The Tips to Setup a Successful Bar

Setup of a bar is a lot of work, but it can be rewarding – just make sure to stay organized and keep on top of everything that needs to be done. 

Make sure to keep a habit of keeping your bar organized from day one. Liability insurance is a must for any bar owner. Lastly, make sure to remember that if you're not promoting your events, no one will know about them! Use social media, flyers, and word-of-mouth to spread the word that the best new bar in town has been set up.  

Lastly, do not forget to enjoy yourself along the way.

By Liliana Alvarez

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