There are so many ways to build regulars at your bar, that we all have our own tips to share with everyone. Here are some of my tips for building regulars at your bar and I’ve saved my favorite for the end.
Treat your customers like friends, and they’ll keep coming back!
1. Start with the basics
Provide them with good customer service, good food/drink, good attitude and prompt service.
2. Figure Out Why They are There
Do they love the food? The alcohol selection? The cocktails? Are they there to meet people? Once you know that, provide that for them.
3. Put a name to the face.
After you start seeing the same people a few times, you begin to associate a face with a drink. You’re probably not going to to remember their name, but you can easily recognize the person and know they drink a Bulleit Rye Old Fashioned every time they walk in.
This is probably one of the most important steps to remembering a regulars name. You have already begun to store information about this person based off of what they look like, and what they drink. At this point, introduce yourself, and make sure to get their name.
An easy tip to remember a persons name is to say their name 3 times, not all at once because that would be creepy. Usually I follow the formula of “Nice to meet you X, what can I get you to drink?” Then a few minutes later I ask “How is your Old Fashioned X? Can I start another one for you?” When they are ready to leave I make sure to say goodbye using their name. It takes some energy, and you won’t remember everyone’s name at first, but with a little practice you’ll see a lot of improvement.
4. Learn your regulars drinking patterns.
Once you know your regulars name, let’s say his name is Steve, now is the time to get to know him. Does Steve have regular drinking patterns? Does he always drink 3 Bulleit Rye Old Fashioned? At this point I don’t ask to make them another drink, I’ll just bring him a new one when he is getting close to finishing. This technique really goes a long way to building regulars because it shows you are paying attention.
5. Learn more about your regulars
Now is the time to really get to know your regulars, find out information about them throughout your conversations with them and add this information on to what you already know about them. Does Steve like football, did he go to College in New York, is he an avid surfer? Once you can remember this information, make sure to ask them about their interests. It shows that you are paying attention and it’s important to build up this information for my favorite technique to build regulars.
6. Build the bridges
The best technique that I have discovered to building long term regulars is to find a way to introduce people together. At some point you will have quite a few regulars, and you are going to know a decent amount about each one of them. At this point I like to find bridges between them and introduce them to each other. For example if Stacy is one of my regulars and Steve sits within a couple of seats of her, I will try to remember common information about each of them and use that as a conversation starter.
It goes exactly like this, and I have used it dozens of times without fail.
“Stacy this is Steve, Steve this is Stacy.”
- The fact that you are introducing them by name shows that you know each of them and think they are both good people. Essentially you are giving both of them your bartenders seal of approval.
- Not only that, but you are taking away any awkward moment of Steve having to introduce himself to a complete stranger.
Now is the point where you leave them with something to talk about that they are both interested in.
“Stacy is going to New York on vacation, and Steve I know you spent a lot of time in New York. What was the name of that bar/restaurant that you told me I had to go to?”
- Now you have introduced 2 complete strangers, and given them something to talk about that they are both interested in.
- Even if you have to walk away from the conversation to make those 14 drinks that are stacking up in the service window, Stacy and Steve feel like you are a part of their conversation.
The great thing about introducing people is that they will not only come back to see you, but also to see their new friends. It also creates a really familiar feeling at your bar, great conversation, and it’s a lot easier to build regulars when people are already having fun at your bar.