4 Soft Skills of Bartending
Bartending isn’t just about mixing and serving. People frequent the same bars not just for the drinks, but for the human interaction. Being a good bartender means being able to make customers feel welcome, at home, and cared about – but in a cool and nonchalant way. Not an easy order.
Here are a few tips for the bartending soft skill of conversation:
Focusing on Small Talk
Small talk, as opposed to big talk. In other words, non-serious conversation. It’s essential if you want to truly engage with your customers in a personal way. If you have a hard time starting conversations with strangers, you’ll likely have fewer “regulars.” How to keep conversation small? Ask the customer open ended questions: Live around here? Any exciting plans tonight? First time here? Have you tried our (insert drink here) yet? Long day?
Open-ended questions keep the focus away from yourself and on your customer. It things feel comfortable enough, introduce yourself and allow things to flow more naturally. But… give customers an easy out. Not everyone will want to chat every day.
Sticking to Neutral Topics
Don’t assume you know your customer’s philosophies or background. Views that may seem “obvious” to you won’t be held by everyone. Because all your customers come from different backgrounds, it’s important to keep things neutral. Kind of like at Thanksgiving dinner – avoid politics and religion, for example.
So, what are some neutral topics? Current events, sports, even the weather… let your customer guide your conversation.
Treating Regulars Like VIPs
Regulars are essential for your establishment’s success. So, when you notice a repeat customer, treat them like the VIP they are. That’s as easy as learning their name and making them feel at home. If you can ask them about something they brought up last time, you’re golden. Don’t forget to offer them their usual! You can also be a little more open to share briefly about yourself, especially if it’s a topic that’s come up before. This is a recipe for giving regular customers that feeling of connection that will keep them coming back.
Knowing Essential Bartending Terms
While we’re talking about talk, make sure you don’t let small talk do all the work – this is a “soft” skill component, but your hard skill is serving great drinks. No matter how good the connection, customers aren’t likely to keep coming if they’re disappointed in the drinks. These are likely no brainers to anyone but newbies, but you’re in the newbie category, here are a few key terms:
- Neat – No ice.
- On the Rocks – With Ice.
- Virgin – No alcohol .
- Dirty – Olive juice added.