Thursday, April 19, 2012

Bartenders Beware! ©2012 by Joe Sixtop all rights reserved

     Bartenders beware! There’s this new computer program out that’s linked to your POS register and the beer kegs at your establishment. It lets bosses know every time you pour and/or ring up a draft beer. That’s not good, but it’s their product and I can’t blame them too much for tracking it, especially being as how some beertenders do seem to be a little overly generous with a product that really isn’t theirs and has heretofore been pretty easy to pull some shenanigans with. The real sinister part of it to me is that this thing alerts the powers-that-be—all else being done to spec—if you pour a beer first and then ring it up afterwards, even if the second action follows the first in the mere blink of an eye, as it usually does.  
      A trainer I know from the New England area told me about it. Apparently the draft beer costs at her store were off the chain so management implemented this system. I hear that their draft costs have dropped precipitously, coupled with an alarming rise in product shrinkage on the liquor side of things. We don’t have this system at my store and, unless your registers and draft apparatus are less than three years old, you don’t have it at yours either. I have it on good authority that no stores in our franchise groups have it, even the newest ones.
      In case you’re wondering, there’re reasons for the ring-before-you-pour rule. Mostly, it’s to keep even the integritous (as I believe most ‘stauranties are) from pouring something, without bad intentions, and then becoming distracted and honestly forgetting to charge for it and that’s who I’m warning here. If you’re one of those who consistently give 2-4-1 when it isn’t Happy Hour or “refresh” the half-finished suds of your regulars, I want you to stop that shit right now or at least immediately after I get through drinking at your bar. When you do underhanded shit like that and I work after you do, most of the more fucktarded clients, instead of being cool like they should be under the circumstances, get all johnsonskulled and entitled-acting about it and see me as a bad guy and I don’t like it!
     I try and follow the rules. Pretty much, anyway. And usually I ring before I pour, as I’m supposed to. But the rich white college boys who’ve never actually, you know, worked in a restaurant that are behind this brewski surveillance have gone too far. Sometimes you’ve got to do what you’ve got to do. While everyone strives to keep it to a minimum, sometimes a trustable server (this program works on all sides of the taps, including the service bar) will desperately cry out for a draft they really need before it’s rung up, for whatever reason, and promise to ring it up ASAP with the “NO MAKE” modifier tacked on and who am I to shut them out? If everything gets properly paid for and the clientele is happy, then we’ve done our jobs and should have nothing to fear.
     But there’s a slight silver lining to this cloud of bovine cabins. As a trainer, I’m supposed to make sure that everyone I’m showing the proverbial ropes to always hits “REVIEW” after they’ve rung in their orders but before sending them. I stress this to them because I’m supposed to and because I think it’s a good practice. I usually do it on my own orders and occasionally catch a mistake. Most of my co-workers don’t use the “SUMMARY” (or whatever) key. I don’t say anything, I’m not their boss and pretty much they know what they’re doing. But today this newbie that I didn’t train, not even one shift, had a couple of questions about something he was trying to ring in. I talked him through it and he sent his order. I noticed that he didn’t “OVERVIEW” his efforts before hitting “SEND.” He had mostly trained with one of our many lovely Amandas, who’s a real good waitress and can pretty much get by OK with skipping that step and usually does skip it—I’m sure this is how Jones developed his bad habit—this rookie dude needs to always read the “SUMMARY” before tuning in his orders, for a lot of reasons, and I told him so. He promised he would from now on but I didn’t believe him, even though he was probably sincere at the time. So I made up a lie, inspired by the beer-spying program. I told him that the register knows when anyone doesn’t hit the “REVIEW” button and that if it happens enough times, it’s a write-up. I also said that if he doesn’t send his orders properly and something’s fucked up and product goes to waste, he’ll get in more trouble than he would have had he just played the game. Come to think of it, our computers are from NCR®, a company with a horrible reputation for getting way all up in folks’ business, so maybe what I told dude was actually true.

    If you have any thoughts &/or experiences with these subjects I'd love it if you'd share them with me. And do ya like new (I think) words 'strauranties and johnskulled and do you think I spelled them right?


  1. I usually don't comment but I had to on this subject. I recently quit my job of six years. I started when I was 16 and worked my way up. I don't drink so I never really wanted to bartend but one day about two years ago they found themselves suddenly bartender-less and kinda threw me in there. The company I worked for, let's call them Crapplebee's, fired more bartenders than I can count because of their "TapDynamic" system. By the time I started to bartend I knew that the system was b/s and kept every single one of my receipts from the night, as well as a written log of beer sold and times (yes it was a total pain in the ass, but the money was pretty good) so when I came in the next shift to a write up and the Dynamics sheet I had plenty of proof to back myself up. The problem was that our tap system was older than I was and not to mention the fact that the beer had to travel the length of the store to get to the bar. TapDynamics doesn't account for foam, a line flush, or a keg change. If a customer didn't like the beer and it was taken off their check, the system still counted that as a beer that wasn't rang in. God help you if a customer wanted to try the new Sam seasonal beer. Instead of just giving them a taste you had to run all over hells creation to find a manager to approve it, then put it in our shift log along with the time, date, and the customer had to initial it! Our area director and her boss were in having lunch and she told me they were taking out the system. She wished they'd never agreed to install it not because of how many long time bartenders in many of her stores that she lost, but because of all the paperwork that came with firing them. When I asked her if they were going to be offered their jobs back she looked at me like I had three heads and said, "No, I just hope they don't sue us." I put my two weeks in the next day.

    1. Damn dude, that what you just wrote could be its own episode of These American Servers™ only better than the 1 I just posted! Thanks for reading and commenting!

  2. Things like this always crack me up. Corporations long ago decided that their hourly employees were brain dead thieving twit who could not be trusted. This lead to the implementation of many of the procedures they have today. Now they are showing that they think the same of their managers and should manage the store from their corporate offices (which in the case of the previous commenter is right up the road from me). I think if they weren't paying their managers the same salary they were a decade ago, they wouldn't have to invest in an overhyped/underdelivering piece of technology to do the manager's job. We had a way to do this when I managed. If draft beer was high, I would watch the bartenders and count to pours versus the pmix by hour. I never had a tough time catching the source of the problem. I also didn't have to worry about it much because I treated my bartenders and professionals and respected them. Maybe these corporations could find an app for that.

  3. Hey guys thanks so much for reading and commenting! The industry is changing in a lot of ways and I don't care for most of them.