Customers rely on bartenders to pull beers, chill martinis, pour glasses of wine and make casual conversation. What many customers don’t realize, though, is that bar supervisors are responsible for much of what happens behind the bar. Bar supervisors, also called bar managers, often serve as liaisons between front-of-the-house staff, including bartenders and bar backs, and upper management. Knowing the job description for a bar supervisor can help you determine whether this is a fulfilling career choice for you.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics forecasts a 12 percent increase in jobs within the food and beverage industry between 2010 and 2020, which is on par with increases in other occupations. The work environment can include stand-alone bars, or bars located within restaurants, hospitals, hotels and other locations. Although many food and beverage industry jobs are part-time and entry-level, some supervisors do work full-time and hold college degrees. Some bar supervisors hold certificates for safe alcohol service training or food safety training. The food and beverage industry has a high employee turnover, creating a high number of opportunities for bar supervisors to find employment.
Bar supervisors are expected to manage employee rosters that can include bartenders, bar backs, dish washers or cocktail waitresses. Supervisors may have to create and enforce training processes for new hires, according to the Human Resource Hrvinet.com article “Bar Manager Job Description.” Facilitating bar employee grievance processes, promoting fire and safety standards and holding department meetings is also expected of bar supervisors. The bar supervisor also carries out disciplinary actions as appropriate when employees do not meet expectations.
A bar supervisor job requires that individuals who hold the position have a strong knowledge of beverages, including liquor, beer and wine. Many supervisors have prior experience working as a bartender or elsewhere in the hospitality industry. In the 2012 "Hospitality Magazine" article, "10 Tips to Upskill as a Bar Manager," effective bar supervisors keep up with trends such as craft beers, trending wine lists and specialty drinks. Attending bartending trade shows and conferences can help bar supervisors keep abreast of current bar trends.
Bar supervisor job descriptions often highlight the need for marketing skills. Bars in the same city often vie for the same customers, and so must look for ways to distinguish themselves from competitors. Using social media, text messaging and mass marketing are key bar manager skills that help reach new customers and maintain a regular customer base, according to a June 2012 article in "Hospitality Magazine." That may also include marketing the bar’s commitment to green business by investing in earth-friendly chemicals, organic wines or water-efficient glass washers.
Effective bars make money, and a bar supervisor is expected to maximize profits by tracking price points, reducing theft and waste and negotiating contracts with vendors, according to "Hospitality Magazine." Bar supervisors should not only have a strong sense of the daily financial operations and profit targets for the bar, but long-term goals that can include expansion, stock options or franchising. Upper management wants a bar supervisor who is financially literate and responsible.
Morgan Rush is a California journalist specializing in news, business writing, fitness and travel. He's written for numerous publications at the national, state and local level, including newspapers, magazines and websites. Rush holds a Bachelor of Arts from the University of California, San Diego.