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Common Traits of High-Volume Bars and Lounges

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Justin GuinnAuthor

High-volume bars and lounges are great at popping tops and slinging drinks. These high-volume establishments come in all shapes and sizes, from high-quality cocktail bars to classic American sports bars.

Bar staff need critical skills to make drinks and manage drink orders during a high-volume service, but there’s a ton of strategy and technology that goes into achieving and sustaining that high volume outside of service. 

That’s why we’ve analyzed commonalities of high-volume bars and lounges that use the Toast POS platform. Toast is the point-of-sale system (POS) built for your operation.

In this article, bar owners will learn about common traits of high-volume bars that use Toast POS — including tactics to increase sales as well as strategic tech adoption. With the right strategies and tools in place, bar management can help team members deliver exceptional experiences, build customer loyalty, and maximize revenue potential.

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Common traits of high-volume bars and lounges that use Toast POS

High-volume bars and lounges have to balance exceptional guest experiences with sustaining volume, streamlining staffing, and keeping a constant eye on profitability. 

As you think about opening a bar or optimizing your current business, here are some operational and tech-focused commonalities we see from high-volume bars and lounges on the Toast platform.

1. Embrace technological advancements

High-volume bars and lounges understand the importance of leveraging technology to streamline operations. 

That’s why 100% of the high-volume bars we analyzed use Toast Go® 2 handheld POS systems

These handheld POS systems can help enable efficient order-taking, payment processing, and table-side service, reducing wait times and enhancing the overall guest experience.

2. Maintain an active and user-friendly website

All the high-volume bars and lounges we analyzed prioritize the maintenance of an updated and user-friendly website.

A well-designed website acts as a digital hub for customers to explore offerings, stay informed about events and specials, and even make online reservations.

The same is true for active, engaging social media accounts. We found that 76% of high-volume bars analyzed regularly post across social channels.

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3. Utilize gift cards

Gift cards serve as powerful marketing tools for increasing customer loyalty and boosting sales

Our research found that 88% of high-volume bars and lounges analyzed have implemented Toast's Gift Card feature.

These operations utilize gift cards for special promotions, incentivizing repeat visits, and attracting new customers — they make great gifts!

4. Offer a full food menu

Providing a diverse selection of appetizers, entrees, and snacks has proven to be an effective strategy for high-volume bars and lounges.

According to our analysis, 88% of the high-volume bars analyzed are offering a full food menu. 

This can help enhance the customer experience and increase revenue potential by encouraging guests to stay longer and spend more.

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5. Implement a kitchen display system

Efficient kitchen operations are crucial for high-volume bars and lounges.

Our research shows that 68% of establishments analyzed have implemented Toast's Kitchen Display Systems (KDS). 

By integrating KDS, these establishments improve order accuracy, streamline communication between the front and back-of-house, and enhance overall operational efficiency.

6. Adopt online ordering

To cater to the demands of tech-savvy customers, high-volume bars and lounges are increasingly adopting online ordering systems.

According to data from Toast, 68% of high-volume bars and lounges utilize Toast's Online Ordering feature. This allows customers to conveniently order food and drinks from their mobile devices, ensuring smooth order management and timely delivery.

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7. Host regular events

Regularly hosting events helps create a lively and dynamic atmosphere.

Our analysis found that 52% of high-volume bars and lounges regularly host events such as themed nights, trivia competitions, karaoke, and sports viewing parties. 

These engaging events attract a diverse customer base, encourage repeat visits, and increase overall revenue potential — which can be especially true for live music.

According to our research, 40% of establishments analyzed incorporate live music into their event calendar. 

This creates an entertaining atmosphere that draws in guests seeking vibrant entertainment, making the establishment a go-to destination for socializing and enjoyment.

What to look for when staffing a high-volume bar

There are a few archetype roles you’ll want when hiring for a high-volume bar.

Bar managers

First off, you need an excellent bar manager who can keep watch over the entire establishment during a service. Your bar manager should be able to get behind the bar if required, but their primary role is to stay within arm’s reach of everything going on throughout service. 

Outside of service or during low volume times, they can help with guest acquisition and retention strategies, develop new cocktail recipes, and manage supplier orders.

High-volume bartenders

Bartenders are the stars of any high-volume bar (low-volume ones too!) Great bartenders are cool under pressure, skilled at making conversation, and experts on different alcohols and cocktails. 

They may or may not have their own bar tools — they should know how to use them for service. They should also be able to consistently manage their mise en place and ensure garnishes, mixers, syrups, and other ingredients are properly prepped.

Barbacks

Barbacks are the grunts of the bar. They’re there for the heavy lifting and the dirty work — changing kegs, hauling bags of sugar and other ingredients, reloading coolers with cases of beer, etc.

Like any restaurant team member, you want to ensure they show up on time. Aside from that, they just need to be willing to work hard on whatever comes their way.

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Priming your bar operation for sustainable success

Hopefully, these common traits of high-volume bars and lounges have sparked some ideas of your own. They’re applicable whether you’re slinging beer buckets, craft cocktails, or bottle service.

It’s important to state that none of these tactics or technologies are guaranteed to help your operation — though they can all be a jumping-off point from which you can create or optimize your own bar business plan.

And if you’re ever ready for a strategic investment in technology, such as a bar-specific POS system, Toast is here to help.




1 Methodology: High-volume bars/lounges in this context were calculated based on the quantity of annual gross purchase volume (GPV) transactions at the time of analysis for businesses classified as “bar/lounge” in Toast’s system as of Q3 2023. Additional data was gathered from the websites and social media accounts of the high-volume bars/lounges we analyzed.

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DISCLAIMER: This information is provided for general informational purposes only, and publication does not constitute an endorsement. Toast does not warrant the accuracy or completeness of any information, text, graphics, links, or other items contained within this content. Toast does not guarantee you will achieve any specific results if you follow any advice herein. It may be advisable for you to consult with a professional such as a lawyer, accountant, or business advisor for advice specific to your situation.