Ignore Your Tips to Make Money
Peter Clayton, the owner of the Bartenders Academy in Connecticut, wrote this incredible piece on how to really make money as a Bartender. It’s so good, and the point it makes is so true, that we’ve decided to share it in its entirety:
Here is a tip that even experienced bartenders ignore.
If you want to be a great bartender, and make “bank” (big big bucks) from the very beginning, focus on your ring, not your tips. If you aren’t familiar with the term, your ring are your total sales for your shift. It is how much in sales you ring up. Typically your tips are a percentage of total sales. While the acknowledged standard in the industry is 15%, as bartenders we know that your total percentage over a long and busy shift can range anywhere from 10% of sales to over 30% (if you are good and lucky)!!
Since they’re related, why focus on one and not the other? Managers and owners are definitely focused on your ring. It is how they make money. The greater your sales the more the bar makes. There is no mystery there.
To get into this in depth we spoke with one of the best bartenders in the industry, earning over $100,000/year as a bartender. He was a star bartender and worked his way up from a busy neighborhood/sports bar to one of the best and biggest clubs on the East Coast. Not only did he handle one of the busiest bars in this ultra busy club, but he was a trainer in the club, teaching and instructing new bartenders how to bartend in that club, and how to become better and better. He later became the bar manager at a fancier club while handling the central bar in this popular place.
At his clubs he saw bar stations ring as little as $1,200 and well over $14,000 in a single night. $14,000! that is a lot of money. If you are only making 10% on tips, that is $1,400/night. If you make 20% in tips on the night that is $2,400-$2,800. Imagine going home with that kind of money after one night of bartending! Although every night will be different, bartenders all over the country are ringing thousands of dollars every day and walking away with several hundred dollars a shift!
In these busy clubs, just as busy bars around the country the managers and owners determine who gets which shifts and when. They can put you in the middle of the hottest most crowded floor in the busiest night or move you out to a corner bar upstairs, remote, and removed from the action. They can give you Friday and Saturday night shifts when the crowd is hot, or they can stick you in Monday/Tuesday day shifts when there is a very small crowd. Managers and owners ultimately decide how much money you can make.
In fact at very large clubs there is a science to it. If you are new they’ll put you in a slower corner bar. It’s a test. They already know what that bar averages over a night. If the average ring is $2,000 a night and you average $3,000 at that station…..they are going to give you a series of promotions. You have proven you can make that bar money. They will move you up and up….and if you can always out perform the average of that bar station….you will be headed toward the busiest bar in the busiest section of the club. You’ll be set.
As long as you focus on your ring, keep becoming a faster, more efficient, more popular and better bartender your tips will come and they will grow. If you focus on your ring and it keeps improving, your manager and owner are going to make sure you get the very best shifts. You’ll be helping yourself and helping them.
So bartenders….don’t ever forget….focus on your ring not your tips…and you’ll be making more and more money in no time.