Why Your Bar or Restaurant Will Fail Without This One Factor

November 17, 2017

|Dave Allred

I do my best from day-to-day to offer advice, information and resources to help bar owners and managers succeed at a top level.

In fact, there is an ocean of knowledge out there that is helpful, some better than others. But here’s what you need to know about running a bar and restaurant. Let’s get right to it:

If all that information and knowledge out there which helps you run a better bar/restaurant is the steering wheel, execution is the engine that fuels the car. It doesn’t matter how good-intentioned your plan is or how well you’ve mapped out your journey. Without the engine, the car goes nowhere.

So here’s what I want to tell any of you who are going to ask me for some of that knowledge: Be ready to execute.

What usually happens is that I provide sound business advice and then you do a half-ass job which makes me look bad because I promised I could make you and your establishment great, but then you went and screwed it up because you executed poorly and now my reputation turns to shit.

You see what I mean? If you want to be an asshole, fine, but we’re in this together now so don’t drag me down with you to the bottom of your quicksand party.

Sorry, had to get that out of my system. Let’s move on.

First of all, there are a hundred things we could name that contribute to the success or failure of a bar, and juggling all these thoughts and responsibilities in our heads often feels like you’re on your way to a quiet padded room where you hug yourself in a straight jacket all day.

However, there is hope. Anytime there is chaos, we need to corral it and funnel all that randomness and uncertainty in our heads, put it down on paper and create a system that makes sense and that can be executed on a massively effective level for your business.

Over the years, after working with hundreds of owners and managers, I have found some consistent rules and standards which keep the money rolling in month after month. These are systems that help you run your bar/restaurant more smoothly, including accounting, customer service, bar and restaurant inventory, marketing, etc. 

And let’s not forget that in the middle of implementing systems that we still need to keep everyone working there happy, as well as giving the guests the experience they are craving so intently.

What it comes down to is that it’s the EXECUTION of these rules and standards and systems that separates the men from the boys, as they say (or the girls from the ladies—See? I have the ability to be modern and PR friendly, even if I have vintage Mad Men tastes).

I’ll repeat that:  EXECUTION. Brand it on your bicep, or tattoo it on you ass, listen to a subliminal tape every night titled, “Execute, doofus”—I don’t care what you do, just remember that the only plans that have EVER worked in this universe were because somebody or somebodies took the actions necessary to follow through and execute the plan. 

To have knowledge of something and not enforce the execution of it is the biggest cause of failure in any business.

I take that back. The biggest cause of failure in any business is the failure to even make a plan in the first place so they’re in trouble from the very beginning and have a better chance of jumping to Jupiter, but even if someone is competent enough to form a good plan from the start (which is rare, at best), their success is dependent on their ability to enforce the plan over and over and over again on a relentless and consistent basis.

Some people call this micro-managing and they don’t want to do it. I call it managing. It’s your job, and there is a disease in the bar restaurant industry today (and in many industries actually) when it comes to leadership and management.

Everyone likes the title of manager, but they don’t actually like to go through the process of managing, and thus, businesses fall apart at the seams.

However, we know that’s not you because you’re here reading this. There are owners and managers out there who want help on improving their business and also improving their personal skills on managing.

They are searching for it, like you are, but one of the biggest problems I see on the Internet are all the articles and videos and books on from “experts” trying to get traffic to their blog or website so they write mundane and superficial articles in “list form”, such as “The Top 10 Factors for Running a Successful Bar,” but the information is very generic and sterile and doesn’t do much at all to help you and your other managers out.

I see lists like this for running a successful bar:

1. Know the laws and licenses you need

2. Keep the bar clean

3. Be responsible

4. Use a POS system

5. Organize the back bar

Wait, you’re saying I should be responsible? Well shit, no wonder I can’t get people in my bar. I’m supposed to be responsible. No one ever explained this ancient secret of the mystic masters. It’s all coming clear now.

Yes it’s true. The bar should be clean and organized, and yes you should be responsible. I’m not denying that. Nobody’s going to come in to your place if it looks and smells like the crazy cat lady’s house.

But there is an easy solution to being dirty and unorganized: CLEAN AND ORGANIZE. Wow, what a concept. The problem is, someone has to enforce the cleaning and organizing EACH AND EVERY DAY. And it’s this latter part that hardly anyone ever talks about, or at least they don’t emphasize it with much Umph!

What owners and managers want to know is this: What is at the heart of success? What is the magic bullet that will get people flocking to the doors? How do you manage the numbers, cut costs, and increase profits? And what are the actionable steps I can follow to make it happen?

Everyone wants someone to give them the answer. I get that, and I don’t really see anything wrong with it. You’re basically seeking educational information so you can increase your knowledge and further your expertise which you hope will increase your profits and income. Totally acceptable.

Just remember that just because someone gave you the answer (assuming it’s a good answer in the first place) doesn’t mean it’s going to be easy. You have to actually put that knowledge and education into action. Everybody loves the idea of owning a business until they realize that it’s actually a job that takes work.

And having the knowledge and plan is only the start. Once you have that knowledge and you start putting the plan into action, you now have to figure out a way to keep the momentum going. To keep the plan on course, and this is where most owners and managers fail.

There are a whole lot of you out there who are smart and who wrote out a good plan, even if it was a lot of guesstimation in the beginning. What happens is at some point while you were drowning in utility bills, invoices and customer complaints, you forgot to stick to it.

Or perhaps it wasn’t that great a plan to start with, in which case you DEFINITELY won’t stick with it.

So your first job is to get a plan. But I’m going to assume you already have SOMETHING in place, even if it’s a skeleton frame structure of something to work from.

Take that “something” and actually execute the plan. You might find out that your plan is just fine, but the execution of following through with your employees is shit.

Execution is a day-to-day activity, not a monthly or even weekly one. You can’t just cherry pick and execute the easy parts. You have to be disciplined or you will continue running a mediocre, same-as-every-other-place-I’ve-been-to bar or restaurant that not only squeaks by financially, but that you are not in the least bit proud of because you don’t stay on top of your systems and therefore the business turns to crap, and in turn you feel like crap about your job and career.

Does that hit home yet? I can only hope.

Cheers, until next time,


Tags:bar managementrestaurant managementbar inventoryliquor inventoryliquor control systemhow to run a barown a barmanage a barmanage a restaurant

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