Mo' Money

How to make the most amount of money by doing the least amount possible



5/11/20237 min read

a pile of money bills and bills in a pile
a pile of money bills and bills in a pile

Mo’ Money

We all want to make as much money as possible behind the bar. Hell, even if you’re not a bartender, chances are, you are dreaming of making more money. Luckily, making money behind the bar can be in your control. I have developed a system over the last 18 years of working in the service industry.

I believe that the most effective way to get better at anything you want to accomplish, is to get started, and make mistakes. I’ve made plenty of mistakes in and around the bar over the last 18 years, but that’s ok. I have learned from those mistakes and have built better systems around them.

It is my intention to share those systems with anyone who is seeking assistance, or for those who like to be entertained, because some of the stories are so outrageous that they don’t always seem believable.

Let me get started:

The most important thing that I focus on behind the bar is cleanliness. It is not enough to just keep your bar free from debris, you also need to keep the bar top dry.

NOONE wants to sit or stand near a dirty bar full of empty bottles, plates, used napkins, and a river of whatever #jerseyturnpike liquor is flowing around the edges of your service space. It’s gross and customers are going to be turned away by the mere sight of your dirty bar.

Ok dude I get it! You have to keep a clean bar, but what can I do?

For starters, you have to have a system, a routine that you can easily follow, and something that is repeatable. I work in a clockwise motion around my bar when serving customers. My bar is in the shape of a square and has 360 degrees of serving space. Therefore, I can move in a circular motion when serving customers.

I have seen others try to serve behind a bar with 360 degrees of service area, without keeping a set rotation and it did not end well.

I grew up in the 80’s and 90’s which gave me plenty of time to play random board games. One of which was a game called Kerplunk! The game board consisted of a vertical tube in which you would stick thin spaghetti noodle type sticks into holes around the board in order to create a floor. You would then put about 32 marbles into the top of the cylinder and the marbles would rest on the tops of the sticks. The object was to take turns pulling out the spaghetti noodle sticks to see who the first one would be to drop the marbles.

If you are working behind a bar that has a 360 degree service area, you do not want to randomly pick out spaghetti straw sticks. Eventually you are going to get into trouble and your marbles are going to hit the floor.

Nice story bro, but get to the point!

What I am trying to express is that you need to have a system in place that dictates how you will serve each customer. A circular motion that does not skip anyone around the bar is a good system. Picking and choosing who you think is the next person around the bar DOES NOT work. Don’t do it.

How do you keep the bar clean then? As you are going around in your circular motion, serving your customers, you need to develop a good sense of peripheral vision on the bar top. Multi-tasking is real people! As you are taking orders, you should be picking up bottles and throwing them out with a free hand. With your other hand you should have a bar rag that can wipe the area around the next few customers and catch any extra Mullica River spill that might be around.

Part of your system in setting up the bar, which I detail in my Bartenders Cheat Code course, is to properly prepare for the night ahead, and that includes an ample amount of bar rags and other cleaning products that you can use throughout the night.

You should be clean behind your bar, but you also need to be fast!

In order to be fast behind the bar you will need to start multi-tasking. You will need to take multiple orders at once, remember those orders long enough to make them at your drink station, and then calculate their costs to input the sale into your register.

If you work at a bar that uses a POS (Point of Sales - not piece of sh*t, but they may be synonymous) style register then I believe you are at a disadvantage. The old fashioned cash registers that allow you to input the sale and count back change is much more time efficient. The point of sales registers allows managers to keep a digital inventory which is very effective for them, but it slows you down in the long run.

I know there are people out there that will argue with me to the point of skinless thumbs or fingers, whichever medium they choose to type with on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter, but I’m right. #sorrynotsorry

In order to be fast you need to put yourself in the best situation possible. You need to train your customers to have their orders and their money ready, or you will be forced to skip them. If you skip them, you can not go backwards in your circular motion. You just can’t do it. If you make an exception to your rotation, other customers will see that and then you just ruined all of the previous training you had accomplished with past customers.

Train your customers… And your friends!

Use shorthand to remember orders. If a woman orders two vodka sodas, two bud lights, and a glass of merlot, in my head I convert her order to make it easier to remember. What I hear is: 2 House, 2 Lights, Wine Red.

The majority of the drinks that I serve are made with either club soda, seltzer, club, bubbly water, THEY ARE THE SAME THING from my soda gun! The next most frequent call is for RedBull, because it gives people wings, and heart attacks.

In my head I know that 2 House means to house vodka and sodas. At first I would call it 2 House Sodas, but I changed that after I started to get a lot more calls for drinks with Tonic. If someone ordered a vodka tonic I would call it 1 House Tonic. It just made sense to me to eliminate a word if I could, in order to maximize my mental and physical time.

After all, time is money, but you can’t buy time.

I go further into details in my Bartenders Cheat Code Pro course about how to simplify the math problems you have to do in your head when calculating drink prices.

Be clean and fast, but you should also be consistent. You don’t want people to get the wrong impression of you and start to talk about you in a negative way on their side of the bar. Your drinks should be made consistently the same each time. If the customer orders a double, make sure they are not intoxicated first, but give them a double and charge them the listed price.

DO NOT make exceptions! People talk and you don’t need that headache, nor do you need to waste time explaining why you gave the last customer a stronger drink. It takes time and patience, but you can do this. You need to train your customers that you provide the highest quality service each and every time. If they don’t like your service, they are free to choose another bar, but you and your loyal customers will know the truth.

You don’t need to keep customers who are frustrating and combative. If you are serving in a high paced, high volume environment like I did, then there will always be others to replace the sour grapes.

I consistently pour my drinks the same way for each and every customer. It is the only way to maximize my time, my tip cup, and the overall total of my register at the end of the night. Managers and bar owners will agree that the more money you make for them, with the least amount of waste possible, is what they are looking for.

I use speed pourers with mesh screens and I know it takes three seconds to pour 1.5 oz of liquor in a drink. Steps to take:

  • Load highball glass up with ice using an ice scooper or a small shaker

  • Put glass on drink mat

  • Take soda gun in one hand and liquor bottle in the other

  • Start to pour liquor with the bottle turned completely upside down (One)

  • Start soda gun (Two)

  • Stop soda and start to drop the bottle down (Three)

  • Drink finished as the bottle is now right side up

Every drink should be made consistently from one to the next. If you can do that, then you are on your way to making a ton of money.

Finally, you have to have a good attitude. Be a human being. I’m sorry let me rephrase that. Be a good human being. Smile more!

You get more flies with honey and your customers are those flies! Their wings are made of dollar signs and you want them to be all around you.

I know it can be very difficult to have a good attitude if you are in the middle of a double and haven’t had a chance to leave your bar to use the bathroom or even get something to eat. I have been there and I have made some really bad decisions. I will admit it, I have lost my cool, and it just ended up taking me more time in the long run.

Try to find something that you can hold onto deep inside your head that makes you truly happy. You can do this, you are a multi-tasking master. Even with all the noise, the constant orders, and people trying to get your attention, you can still have separate thoughts inside your head that are free of the struggles that surround you physically.

It will take some time, but you can do it. Find something that makes you smile by just the thought of it and keep it in the back of your head.

For me the thoughts that keep me sane during the long double shifts can change from day to day. Most of the time I think about my family and what we will do on Monday, once my 40 hours in three days, work week is over. It’s embarrassing to see typed out and not in my head, but sometimes I think about playing video games! I was born in the 80’s give me a break!

Whatever it takes, whatever thoughts you can come up with and hold on to, that will get you through the night, use them. Make it something that brings a smile. Customers are looking at you and they can read you like a book with the largest print imaginable. Don’t show them your angry book, because angry books in bars don’t make money.

Have a great day!

Stay clean, fast, efficient, and personable!