I’m going to assume that right now you are in the middle of your search and research for the best bar inventory app you can find, at the right price of course.
In this article, we’re doing a little head-to-head challenge, Bar Patrol vs. Partender. And right off the bat, I know what you’re going to say. You’re going to say, “Dave, you are the founder of Bar Patrol, so this is not a fair fight.”
And you’d be right. I am the founder of Bar Patrol, but what you need to know is that we here at Bar Patrol get this question quite a bit: “How are you different than Partender and why should I choose Bar Patrol instead,” so we are going to answer that question right now.
I will say that I am going to do my best to just give the facts of the two systems, as to be as unbiased as possible, and then you can make your own decision.
We’re going 5 rounds in this challenge, which means we will be evaluating to the two bar inventory systems on the following criteria: Accuracy, speed, reporting, ordering & invoicing, and pricing.
ROUND 1: ACCURACY
I ran a full diagnostic test for this. Like a smog technician. With less smog. We already know what Bar Patrol can do with the bar inventory Bluetooth scale. We promise a 2 – 3 % margin of error, as there is simply nothing more accurate than weighing your bottles. This is a fact. The app knows precisely how much is left in the bottle based on the full and empty weight of that brand of bottle (we have these bottle-weights in our Master Product Database when you sign-up).
Partender, with their little slider, promises a 99.2% accuracy. This is, ironically, an extremely inaccurate promise and complete hyperbole. It is simply irresponsible to say that every person is going to put the slider in the exact same spot on the bottle to get that sort of accuracy. Measurement by judgement is subjective.
THE BIG TEST
For our accuracy test, I filled 10 different brands of liquor bottles, measuring precise amounts in oz. so I knew exactly how much was in each bottle. I then first weighed all 10 bottles with the Bluetooth scale and recorded the margin of error.
I then did the same with Partender, using the little slider, which I’ll admit is very convenient and easy to use. And if you have brands with plenty of labels and writing on the bottle (which provides a point of reference for where to put the slider), the accuracy is actually quite good.
The main problem is if you have bottles with limited writing on the bottle, like Skyy, there is a lot of surface space with no indication of where exactly to put the slider to match it up to the exact level in the bottle. If the level is well above or below the label, accuracy suffers because you are eyeballing and guessing.
DARK BOTTLES & KEGS
What about opaque bottles like Kahlua or Bailey’s? And kegs? How do you adjust the slider on the bottle or when can’t see the level of the liquid?
In their tutorials, Partender suggests that you hold the bottle up to a light or shake the bottle. I’m no Harvard professor, but I’m pretty sure using the shaking the method to measure volume is frowned upon there. Just a hunch.
As far as holding a light up to opaque bottles, this flat-out does not work in the least. I used a powerful high-beam fluorescent flashlight and found that it was like trying to look through a Glad garbage bag.
How about clase azul? Ever held a flashlight up to a solid ceramic bottle and been able to see through it? Without your x-ray goggles, good luck. I could go on naming opaque bottles, but I believe that you’re bright enough to see where I’m headed with that.
Same goes for kegs: shake and hope.
However, with Bar Patrol App you are able to weigh the kegs on a simple digital bathroom scale, then enter the pounds into the app. Just like with the Bluetooth scale, the software knows exactly how much is left in the keg based on the full and empty weight of that keg.
For more on how to count and inventory your draft beer kegs, you can check out this video here.
THE LIQUOR INVENTORY TEST RESULTS
Let’s move on to the results of our 10-bottle test. To be fair, I really did do my best to match the slider up with the same level of the liquid in the bottle to make it an authentic test with unbiased results.
As you can see, each individual bottle measured by Partender isn’t too bad, but it can’t match the accuracy of the Bluetooth scale. When we’re talking about thousands of dollars of sitting inventory, that margin of error adds up and greatly skews your pour cost % numbers.
Not to mention, I couldn’t even get the measurements for Bailey’s and Clase azul (see red question marks). At best, by shaking the bottle you’re going to get a 10 -15-20% margin of error. Let’s prentend I’m being generous and say you guess it within 12%. If we add in the 12% that brings the margin of error for Partender to 6.93%. That’s six percent less accurate than they promise on their website.
As I mentioned, the issue here is that with Partender, it’s subjective. Where I put the slider and where you put the slider are different, whereas the Bluetooth scale is completely impartial and always consistent.
So in this case, Bar Patrol wins the battle of accuracy.
SCORE CARD UPDATE (1 – 0 Bar Patrol)
ROUND 2: SPEED
This one comes out to be pretty damn close. Both inventory apps are quite speedy. I will say that Partender’s tagline (Bar inventory in 15 minutes), is even more misleading than the promise of 99.2% accuracy. All of us in the bar industry know that promising that an app can count your bar inventory in 15 minutes is ridiculous. Unless, of course, you have multiple people counting on multiple devices, which both Bar Patrol and Partender can do. But when you read “inventory in 15 minutes” the assumption for consumers is “That’s how long it will take me to count inventory if I use this app.”
This is like spotting an amazing a house online listed at $250,000, only to find out that it’s actually a million dollar house, but what the real estate people meant was that you could split the cost with four people. My point being, it’s misleading, and so I’m not a fan of this marketing scheme.
In the end, counting whole bottles with Bar Patrol and Partender is dead-even when it comes to speed. Both systems have the blueprint, app-to-shelf built-in so that all of your products pop-up in order every time you count inventory. This means in your storage room or other areas of your bar where you have unopened containers, you will simply be entering total bottles or cases of each brand, which goes very quick.
For partial bottles, we know that Partender has the slide and swipe. With Bar Patrol you place the bottle on the Bluetooth scale and hit enter. In this case, I’m going to give the slight edge to Partender here.
You are, of course, sacrificing accuracy and the amount of time saved will be extremely minimal.
In fact, I’d say that if inventory took 1 hour on Bar Patrol, it might take 55 minutes on Partender. However, it should also be noted that Bar Patrol constantly syncs data as you work to your online dashboard, whereas with Partender you sync the data once you’ve completed the inventory. When I did it, it took approximately 2 ½ minutes to do this, so that 55 minutes is now more like 57 ½ minutes, which means you’re only saving about 2 ½ minutes every hour.
Nevertheless, speed goes to Partender here, but only by a grasshopper’s nose.
SCORE CARD UPDATE ( 1 – 1 Tie)
ROUND 3: REPORTING & ANALYTICS
This is a big one. Every bar should have great reporting so they can track the financial health of their business.
Partender has basic reports for usage, COG’s and sitting inventory. On the left side in their menu, they have an option for Reports, which has your sitting inventory reports. Then for whatever reason, they have a separate option for Analytics, which says “Track usage, COGs and more, but not sure what the “more” is.
If you go to their help videos on analysis, it shows how you can compare the volume and usage of up to 5 products over time. Spotting volume trends is their big strategy to make more money by “raising prices of big movers”.
Bar Patrol, on the other hand, does not have graphs or squiggly lines. We simply run a usage report and scroll up and down to compare and view usage. As you can see here on this report, you would simply peruse the “Used” column to check usage over a certain time period.
I’ll admit that graphs and squiggly lines are fun to look at, but not really necessary to understand how much of each product was used over time. Still, not a bad little feature that Partender has.
With that said, the biggest thing lacking from Partender is the ability to track losses with a variance report. Partender does not have a detailed variance report and cannot have a detailed variance report because they do not have the ability to add recipes.
Now, you are able to enter your overall sales for liquor, beer and wine manually into an Excel spreadsheet to get an overview variance, but this only tells you that you have a problem. Without identifying which brands are losing money, the value of this report is very low.
Partender’s Overview Variance Report
In addition, they have no ability to upload sales data from the POS, so if you do want to enter any sales data, you have to enter them manually. You can see here by this example, you have to enter the volume sold in this column for every single product you carry.
The problem with this is:
1. It will take you forever, as you’ll need to enter like 250 – 300 rows of data every time. That’s like a 30-minute process at least.
2: These are not all of your sales data items. These are only individual liquors, beers and wines, so you cannot enter sales data for cocktails like cosmos and long islands, which means none of your alcohol can be tracked for those.
In a nutshell, Partender’s variance reports are elementary, at best.
In comparison, Bar Patrol instantly uploads your sales data from your POS so you don’t have to enter it manually. In addition, it has both the variance overview broken down by category, as well as by each individual brand you sell so you can track bartender pours down to the 1/100th of an oz. Bar patrol also is the only bar inventory app that tracks retail losses as well as wholesale losses. The variance report here is unmatched.
Bar Patrol Variance Overview
Bar Patrol Variance Detailed Variance
Reporting at this time, goes big time to Bar Patrol.
SCORE CARD UPDATE (2 – 1 Bar Patrol)
ROUND 4: ORDERING & INVOICING
Moving on to ordering and invoicing. This is another one that comes out very close.
Starting with Bar Patrol, it has automatic ordering and invoicing. Set your par levels and re-order points and the purchase order will tell you how much you need to order and the cost. Then simply push a button and your order is instantly emailed to your vendors.
Once the order comes in, simply make sure the order is correct and hit “Approve Invoice” and an invoice is automatically created for you.
Partender also has automated ordering and invoicing, as long as the pars are set. The only difference here is that Partender does not have re-order points, which allows you to decide how low to let your stock get before ordering more.
This is a small advantage to Bar Patrol, but not big enough to move the needle. Both bar inventory systems are able to automatically send and receive orders, which pretty much makes this round a draw.
SCORE CARD UPDATE (Bar Patrol 2 – 1 – 1)
ROUND 5: PRICING
This is where things get ugly for Partender. Let’s get straight to the numbers.
Partender cost if you pay month-to-month is $249/month, or $165/month if you pay up front for the year. On their website they have $399 and $299 crossed out in the upper left corner of each box, as if they are running a special. But those have been there since Partender was founded in 2012, so just another marketing ploy.
What does this look like over the course of a year? Well, for the Pro Monthly subscription you would spend nearly $3,000/year with Partender ($2,988), and for the Pro Annual it would be nearly $2,000/year ($1,980).
In contrast, Bar Patrol pricing is $69/month, or $49/month if you pay up front for the entire year.
Annually, this works out to $828 for the Monthly Plan or only $588 for the Annual Plan, compared to $2,988 and $1,980 with Partender.
In this case, round 5 only lasts about 9 seconds as Bar Patrol knocks out Partender with a flurry when it comes to pricing and your best bang for your buck.
FINAL SCORECARD (Bar Patrol Wins 3 – 1 – 1)
So what it comes down to is: with no real advantage going to Partender, the question you need to ask yourself is, do I want to spend $2,000 – $3,000 for Partender when I can actually get better accuracy with better analytics with Bar Patrol for only $588 – $828?
I’ll leave that up to you. Even though I am the founder of Bar Patrol and have a bias towards our bar inventory app providing the best bang for the buck, I do my best to be impartial and go solely off the facts.
If you would like to learn more about how Bar Patrol Inventory App can help you master your bar inventory, you can click here to watch our demo videos or you can click here to schedule a one-on-one demo with yours truly.
Whatever you choose to do, I hope it helps you be massively successful in your business.
I’ll see you next time. Make a million this week.