Upgrade Your Bar’s Back-End Technology to Reduce Costs

I am an old dog of the industry, and I remember how inventory control was done 20 years ago. I used to be one of the kids running around with floor scales, recording the weight of bottles before and after nightclub shifts with a pen and paper. Paybacks were calculated by hand, using paper and calculators to compare ounces in and ounces out. Then, at the end of each night, the papers containing all the calculations were thrown into a cabinet to rot, where they were never seen again by staff and never reviewed by upper management.

For years, this was how liquor inventory was “managed” in nightclubs. Sadly, there are many owners that are still operating their businesses with methods like this—and it would surprise you if I told you the names of some of the companies. Some of them are multi-million-dollar-a-year operations with multiple locations. Despite the appearance of success, these poor souls have no idea how much money and time they are wasting by not upgrading their back-end technology. However, for the savvy operator seeking every little edge against their competition, replacing old, antiquated back-end processes is a cost advantage very few others are thinking about.

Here are three areas where you can upgrade your back-end technology to give your business a competitive advantage.

cloud-based computing
(Photo: ArtemisDiana, iStock / Getty Images Plus)

1. Cloud-Based Computing

About five years ago, I changed all my computer infrastructure from desktop applications to cloud-based computing. This was a huge jump, and it was not easy. There were several mistakes made before everything was refined, and it is still not perfect today, but the difference in performance now versus then is not even a fair comparison. With a cloud-based set up, I am 10 times more productive than I was before.

For example, I can now manage activity all over the city from my computer and no longer have to drive everywhere. In the old days, the auditing software was a desktop application, which meant someone had to lug the computer down to each bar to piece things together. The counts could only be imported into that one computer via a cord that plugged into a USP port. This also meant only one person could work on it at a time.

Now, counts are uploaded to the cloud via the internet, and because the auditing platform is cloud-based and accessible through a web browser, several people can work on the audit from anywhere. This has not only increased productivity, but also reduced fuel costs associated with driving, time spent waiting on data transfers, and labor costs.

I can also access everything with any device, anywhere, as long as I have an internet connection. All my documents are stored on a cloud-based server, accessible through any device via two-tier security prompts. My accounting software, email, scheduling, and CRM are now also completely cloud-based and share similar ease in access.

If my computers were stolen or broken, I could literally be back up and running at 100% within minutes. If a fire were to break out at my house and my documents were destroyed, I would still have everything backed up on the cloud.

There is literally no scenario that could cripple my computing infrastructure, unless a tornado simultaneously destroys my house, my backup server (not in my city), and my backup server's backup server (which is not in the same city as the primary backup server). These are all huge advantages over others that are still running on desktop applications with servers and records located in house and boxes of papers all over the place.

There are several cloud-based systems for bars when it comes to their POS systems, accounting, alarm systems, payment processors, marketing CRM systems, inventory control systems, payroll, scheduling, central documents and records, and communications (like email and group chat). Once configured correctly, these systems give operators more control with less time wasted. These systems allow for greater efficiencies for managing activity at a distance, which is a great benefit for those with multiple venues.

Upgrading to cloud-based computing will save you time, which ultimately translates to greater profit.


2. Old Email

I am still doing business with people that refuse to upgrade their email to a Gmail account so they can do simple automations like forwarding invoices based on sender. But because they choose to use an old email address without that capability, they choose to forward invoices manually instead of setting up a new email account that can do the automation.

These people fail to see the issues at stake by not upgrading. They often claim that “it only takes seconds” to manually do it, but that’s not the point. The point is that whenever someone “forgets” to send anything, someone else’s productivity goes down the toilet because they don’t have the documents needed to complete their work.

And if you have worked in any role requiring reconciliation, you will know that tons of time is spent chasing down people for invoices that could have automatically been sent, if the email was set up properly to begin with. And in every scenario where I’m working with a stubborn person that refuses to upgrade their email to do this, they regularly “forget” to send invoices. This is totally unacceptable.

Email is a basic, fundamental part of all businesses, where up-to-date technology is an absolute must. Antiquated email services from companies no longer investing in updating their capabilities are simply not appropriate for the 21st century.

Upgrade your email to a modern account with automation capabilities so you can ensure everything is running smoothly.


(Photo: Liudmila Chernetska, iStock / Getty Images Plu)

3. Paperwork

Everyone has boring, mindless administrative paperwork they need to do, and mine is entering in invoices for inventory audits and accounting for my business. To accelerate these tasks, I now have an AI-powered bot scanning and entering in invoices, so I no longer need an employee or expensive contractor to enter in purchases item by item (which was also slow and very prone to data entry errors).

On the accounting side, QuickBooks Online handles everything with very little need on my time and energy. I used to be the guy that was producing my own invoices from Excel, emailing them out using templates, and processing credit cards and checks by manually entering in the numbers into a PayPal virtual terminal. And yes, while I was diligent in those tasks, it was time consuming, brainless, and repetitive. The more money I made, the more time that was spent on these tasks. Now, it is so automated that I barely touch the administrative side of invoicing and payments. In fact, my personal involvement in getting my monthly profit - loss statements organized is down to minutes a month.

Everyone has some form of these mindless tasks in their business, and by incorporating modern technology, it can be done faster, cheaper, and more accurately.


Kevin Tam is a Sculpture Hospitality franchisee with more than a decade of experience working directly with bar, restaurant, and nightclub owners on all points of the spectrum. From family-owned single bar operations to large companies with locations on an international scale, Kevin works with them all and understands the unique challenges each kind of company faces. He’s also the author of a book titled Night Club Marketing Systems – How to Get Customers for Your Bar, a regular writer/contributor for Bar & Restaurant, and publisher of an eBook called: The 5 Commonly Overlooked Areas That Kill Your Food Cost.



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