There’s no such thing as a “free” glass of water. In fact, according to industry reports, the typical glass of regular tap water can cost up to $1.08 per serving. How? The glass has to be ordered, inventoried, filled and washed for each guest – up go labor costs. When a glass breaks, it must be replaced. The cost of dishwasher soap, dishwasher rental or depreciation, heat, gas and water – hot water to clean the glass and cold water to fill it – all add to the cost, too. The ice-cube machine runs all day and the air around it must be ventilated – up go the water and electric bills. Finally, don’t forget…the guest is likely to ask for ‘extra lemons’ and then use a few sugar (or sugar substitute) packets and make their own lemonade. Ouch!
It stands to reason, then, if you haven’t correctly factored the cost of a glass of water into your entree price, you’re losing serious bucks per day. Think about all those glasses of water on each table. It’s like placing a dollar bill next to each guest’s napkin. Share this information with your staff so they understand free water isn’t free.
Consider making it a policy never to have water on the tables unless a guest asks for it. According to restaurant surveys, only 48 percent of guests at tables with table tents stating “In order to conserve the earth’s natural resources, we serve water by request only” on their tables, went ahead and asked for tap water. You’ll have saved about half the costs of those free glasses of water! In addition, think of the labor efficiencies when servers or service assistants are not having to constantly refill water glasses. If you do provide water to everyone, perhaps put a half-carafe of water on the table to at least save some of the labor required to refill glasses and potential complaints of ‘my water glass wasn’t refilled promptly!’
The Bottom Line
73,000 guests a year x 52 percent not asking for plain water = 37,960 persons not asking for water x $1.08 per “free glass of water” = $40,996.80 saved.
Good bartenders are worth their weight in gold – literally. If drinks are measured accurately, taste “just right” and are served quickly and efficiently, you can count on a profitable business. Too often, though, you’ll find bartenders who are “in business” for themselves, pocketing a few dollars here and there, overpouring to their big tippers and giving away free drinks to friends.
One way to guard against bartenders who give freebies is to delegate a manager to back-up bar service, especially during busy shifts. The management presence will not only keep the bartender honest, but also provide extra help when the bar gets hopping. Teach that manager to pay close attention.
Think about what that extra splash really costs. It’s probably not a lot if it’s just one drink, but 200 overpoured drinks a shift at a consecutive 10 cents a splash adds up to $20 per shift, $40 per day — $14,560 per year!
On a good night, the bar is probably the business place in any restaurant. Bartenders have to serve “bar only” patrons as well as juggle drink orders from servers. With such a high volume of breakneck service, it’s easy to lose sight of the things that add up to increased bar costs and lower profit.
The first solution is to establish rigid guidelines for pouring mixed drinks. Frequently train bartenders on drink consistency. Eliminate “free pouring” by implementing a policy of controlled pouring that utilizes shot glasses, jiggers and pour spoons. And keep a thorough drink recipe book behind the bar at all times. This not only helps monitor your inventory, but provides better guest service by delivering the same drink every time.
Your beer taps are another “waste zone.” Test your beer lines for free-flow (an oxymoron to be sure) every week. Eliminate beer pour-off (foam) by combining air pressure with your beer lines system. And keep an eye out for the three types of beer-waste pours: after-foaming, over-fillers, and quick-draw artists.