There are a lot of skills you need to be a good bartender, including communication, customer service, and decision-making skills.
A large part of a bartender’s job centers around her ability to communicate with customers and other employees. At the very least you should be able to talk to customers well enough that you can take their orders, ask them any appropriate questions, explain menu items about which they might be confused, and make recommendations. But successful bartenders can do much more than just get through the basics with people ordering drinks. Especially at establishments where customers stay at the bar while they are drinking, bartenders need to be able to converse on a wide variety of subjects and get their customers talking. As a bartender, you should be able to make your customers feel comfortable and welcome at the bar, and if you can they will probably leave you a good tip and might even become frequent customers. Because bartenders work in large part for tips, you should do your best to treat every customer in a friendly and welcoming way. You should also develop communication skills so that you can converse well with other employees. At the minimum this means coordinating with them well enough so that the bar runs smoothly, and at the most you could end up forming strong friendships with the other bartenders, which will make your work experience much more enjoyable.
Customer Service Skills
Ultimately, earning tips goes beyond just conversing well with people at the bar. While it will help if you can keep a conversation going, ask them questions, and sympathize with their struggles, there is still more you have to do. You should serve drinks efficiently and make sure the drinks are well made. You should know the menu well so that you can offer legitimate suggestions, and you should respond to any requests or concerns promptly. If you have “regulars” at your bar, you should try to learn these peoples’ names and what types of drinks they like so that you can make them feel like it is worth their while to be a loyal customer to your location. You might also have to deal with severely intoxicated customers who are being belligerent. If you deal with these situations well you will please the other customers and minimize any disruptions in the bar area.
Decision Making Skills
The two main decisions you will have to make as a bartender that could be difficult are how to tell if a customer is underage and how to deal with very intoxicated patrons. In the first situation, your automatic first action with any customer should be to ask for their ID – even if you are sure they are of age. The difficulty comes when you receive an ID that you think might be fake and the customer looks very young. When in doubt, the safest move is to deny service. This is better than serving a minor and getting fired for it. When customers are very drunk you will have to make a decision about how to handle the matter. You will need to decide when to stop serving them and if you need to take any other action, such as confiscating their keys and calling them a cab.