It is common knowledge that restaurant management consists of many different moving parts, but not everyone thinks about what role beverage management plays in this industry. With recent trends showing a major rise in beverage purchases, customers are looking for unique and interesting ways to consume a mid-morning or afternoon indulgence.
With this rise in beverage importance, customers are demanding a larger variety of choices with more distinct flavors and styles available. Although this is a way for your business to earn more money through drink sales, this can also raise your beverage costs by requiring you to have more options on hand than before.
Ensuring that this new trend will help, and not hurt, your business will depend on how well you manage your inventory and sales of these new drinks. Knowing as much as possible about beverage management and the effect it can have on your bottom line is the best way to stay on top of it.
What is Beverage Management?
The role of a beverage manager is to do inventory and handle the purchasing of supplies and ingredients for making each drink on the restaurant’s menu. They will likely also handle the changing and updating of the drink menu when trends fade and new ones are popularized. This job has taken on a more important role within the industry with the growth of specialty beverages.
With more drink offerings than sodas, coffee, and fruit juices, you will need many more ingredients in your inventory to account for specialty drinks. Things like flavored or blended coffee drinks, herbal teas and lattes, and unique cocktails could all be new additions to your drink menu that are cause for more ingredients.
A beverage manager’s job will be to ensure that the restaurant does not run out of any of the top-selling drink ingredients and ensure that customers have the options that they’re looking for. They will also make special drink pairings for certain dishes that will complement the flavors of the beverage.
Why is this Important For Your Business?
The role that drinks now play in the restaurant industry has grown significantly with many places needing to expand their menus to include specialty and creative options. With unicorn-themed drinks, exotic teas, and imported coffees becoming the norm for many customers, they have come to expect a certain amount of variety and creativity when it comes to a drink menu.
Beverage management involves learning about these trends and what customers are wanting from their restaurant to provide options that customers will be excited about purchasing. This can be a helpful thing for your business because of the effect it will have on your bottom line.
Beverages use to be a lesser issue with many customers wanting a simple soda or black coffee as their usual choice. However, with a rise of these creative options like craft soda mixes and sparkling flavored waters, you can now have a higher profit from the purchase of drinks because of these options costing more than typical choices.
A customer may buy a similarly priced meal each time they dine at your establishment, but with a wide variety of drinks available, they might spend an extra five dollars for a flavored tea instead of a soda, which would only cost two dollars. This grows your profit margin for each table that orders one of these more expensive drinks.
However, if you are ordering ingredients for drinks that aren’t selling well, then you could end up losing some of that profit to unused inventory that you must eventually toss in the garbage. So, the question is: how do you add these beverages without losing money?
How To Make Drinks Profitable
Well, the main factor of this issue comes down to knowing what will sell. Taking the time to learn how to manage a restaurant is beneficial to a restaurant manager, and it is the same with a beverage manager. Knowing what your customers want, how much they are willing to pay for it, and offering a variety that won’t hurt your bottom line are all key.
One mistake that is typically made when adding these specialty drinks is the overordering of difficult to make options. Drinks like fresh fruit smoothies, blended coffee drinks with toppings, and mixed options will add time to the servers or bartender’s time to make it. With time being money in this business, this could be an issue.
So, instead of offering multiple choices that take more time to make, add a few choices that come ready-to-pour. Bottled teas or cold brew coffee that comes in a container pre-made is a choice that will still offer variety to the customer and a higher price point for profits but won’t take more time than filling a cup with soda.
For regular drinks, like sodas and juices, you also want to ensure that you’re not overordering on items that aren’t selling as fast. Orange soda or lemon-lime isn’t as popular as a simple cola, so ordering fewer boxes of orange and lemon-lime flavors will keep your inventory spending down.
It may do your business some good to have a few specialty options to boost sales, but offering too many choices may hurt you in the end. Not every customer will opt for a specialty drink, and some people may take a look at a huge drink list and simply choose their favorite soda to avoid having to read through each drink’s ingredients list.
Customers want variety, but they also don’t want to be bombarded with so many options that it makes their heads spin. So, pair down the menu to a few select choices added to the regular drink menu for those who want to try something new, and keep up with your sodas and coffee supply for those who want something simple to ensure that everyone is happy.
Managing beverages for a restaurant or business can be a crazy-making experience with so many things to consider. However, keeping your customer’s in mind with every decision, and making sure that you are making good profits, can help your business stay afloat and grow your bottom line even more.
Thanks for your tip of not overloading the menu with specialties. You’re right when you said that it would probably confuse customers to see such a wide list and they’d end up buying the simpler stuff they’re more familiar with because of it. I’ll be sure to take that into account when setting up a bar of my own and get juice concentrates instead since they will be a more popular option and simple mixes will probably sell a lot more.