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Bartending School Tool

Author: Kelly Gray
Source: Bar & Beverage Business Magazine www.barandbeverage.com

Bartending School Tool

Bartender Training programs are raising the level of service and enhancing the guest experience. Operators are meeting the competitive challenge in the process.

Service is coming back to bars and clubs across Canada thanks to the growing number of training programs now available across the country. Indeed, the days when a barman could concentrate on a handful of drink recipes and proficiency with a bottle opener are largely done. Now, wood-workers need to have a grip on muddles, extracts and a solid knowledge of beverage products.

"It's all about service and a good bartender is not only quick with a joke or a bowl of munchies, but fast with product knowledge that can educate their guests and raises a cocktail to new heights," says Scott Young, President of www.extremebartending.com , a pioneer company that has had a major industry presence for more than 12 years. His firm offers individual and corporate training by some of the industry's most recognized celebrity bartenders. The web site, a " must bookmark " for any serious bartender, features more than 8000 recipes, 8000 jokes and quotes, jobs, chat room, as well as a portal for video and DVD training programs and a variety of products.

Young reports that at the outset he was motivated to form the company because there was nowhere to go for the training he sought at the beginning of his bartending career. What he developed was a service-oriented program that focused on delivering new levels of skill to bartending.

" These days competition is stronger than ever. We all sell the same products and brands. It is the training and resulting higher level of service that really differentiates you in the market. Success rarely happens by accident, " he says, adding that operators should plan the work and then work the plan. " Just taking orders at the bar is not enough to compete."

Matt Jones concurs. Jones is president of the Flairco Bartending Institute ( FBI ). Based in Ontario, Jones will soon open another larger training centre in Toronto to address what he views as a growing need. Certainly one of the best known names in the industry, Flairco ( www.flairco.com ) is the originator of the flair practice bottle and with the opening of the FBI a couple of years ago they furthered their market presence with a cutting edge program that has become the finishing school for bartenders.

According to Jones, members of the industry who want to get ahead come to the facility to complete first, second and third "degree" offerings that fit any beverage service atmosphere.

" The Bar-Tending Arts & Sciences program inspires bartenders to be more aware of their craft, from speed and efficiency to accurate pours and hand crafted gourmet cocktails. The program is rounded out with a low-risk/high-impact tricks that transform bartenders into High Performance Bartenders. He reports that the three main focuses of any professional bartender should be:

*Service ( Hospitality, Etiquette, Procedures )

*Product Knowledge ( In-depth knowledge of all products served )

*The Arts & Sciences of the Craft ( Classic Mixology,Showmanship/Entertainment)

"This trinity represents what constitutes an accomplished bartender, one who takes their craft seriously and emits a sense of passion/pride in their art. These three degrees encompass a larger spectrum of variables that require service industry professionals to adapt and evolve with trends and culture. The Performance Bartenders' number one focus is on service and hospitality, while skill and entertainment value are what rounds out the service experience."

Jones comments that their concept is a seamless one with all aspects covered for a total offering. "We look at bartending from the guests' point of view. When I go out to a bar I am often appalled at the level of skill and service that is being provided. Training your staff is a way to keep them fresh and interested in the job. Operators should be prepared to keep the training on going as well."

A little bit of flair can go a long way when it comes to generating customer excitement. Toronto School of Bartending President Len Fragomeni suggests that just having a staffer pass on knowledge is often a bad idea.

"Typically, bartenders are mentored from other bartenders. When this happens bad habits are passed on like a virus,"he says.

Echoing Jones and Young, Fragomeni suggests that having an untrained person at the helm of an operation's core service is tantamount to business insanity.

"Starting with the bartender staff need to know basics of service, products and mixology. Then they need to go beyond to excel at their craft. The result is greater efficiency and fewer lost opportunities. A good bartender can take a simple order for a rum and coke and deliver with a better brand and a more innovative presentation that brings the drink up from $3.50 and enhances the entire experience."

Really, it's experience that bars sell these days, concludes Jones. "Having staff trained to the highest level ensures that guests are getting that experience they came out for. Let's face it, " he says, " bars are encountering a lot of negative business influences with smoking bans, strong drinking and driving enforcement and changes in consumption habits. Do operators need to add poor service and skill level to the mix? A solid training program is a tool that every bar operator needs to succeed. Buying into training is just good business."


Date: January 27th, 2006

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Scott Young, President and Head Instructor Bar Smart Inc.