Conversations with Customers

Conversations with Customers

Being able to hold a conversation is an important skill for bartenders.  It helps people feel welcome and relaxed. 

Conversations with customers can be short and simple or deep and involved.  It depends on how busy you are and the customer.  Remember, when you’re busy you need to keep the conversation short and to the point.  It’s O.K. to explain that to people.  Most people understand that you have other customers that want drinks and food.

What do people like to talk about?  Themselves….,  and they also talk about other people.

You shouldn’t talk too much about yourself and you should not talk about other people.

Keep things to yourself.

Don’t gossip or spread rumors about anyone, this includes other employees, even when you heard or saw something first hand.  Stories get distorted because people hear what they want to and like to add their own spin to things.   It hurts business and your reputation. 

Customers, especially regulars, love gossip and knowing what’s going on with everyone.  This can become a problem if you decide to add fuel to the fire by repeating things.

It always come back.  When someone asks, “who told you that?” and your name is dropped, this could be a problem for you.  The information that you talked about could have been misunderstood or repeated wrong.  The damage is done even if you’re able to clear things up with everyone later.

Now there is another side to this.  The good things people do.

Everyone likes to hear good things about themselves.

Talking about a good thing that a customer or employee did, when they aren’t around, can also come back to you.  This can be good for you.  Just be careful about it.  Only repeat the good things that you know to be true.  The things that you witnessed. 

Discretion is key

Sometimes people want to keep a low profile for reasons that you might not understand.  Keep that in mind at all times.  So if you aren’t sure, don’t say anything.

Discretion is a very important quality for a bartender.

At one point I worked in three different bars.  A customer came in to one of the bars with a woman that wasn’t his wife.  He was still married and the Saturday before he was at one of the other bars , with his wife.

The night that he was with the other woman, the look on his face was priceless when he saw me.  I pretended he was just another customer that I didn’t know.  What he didn’t know was that I didn’t care, at all.  I never said a word to anyone about it.  He wasn’t a regular at any of the bars I worked,  he was friends with one of the owners, but when he would come in he tipped better than usual after I saw him with that other woman.

I would have kept my mouth shut even without the generous tips.  I didn’t want or need the hassle or drama.  What if I had it wrong?  Maybe the much younger girl was his niece that he liked to practice kissing with, and the wife was cool with it.  You just never know all of the details and it’s none of your business.

When customers can trust you they can become more generous and come in more often when they know you’re working (maybe not when they’re cheating). 
This starts to pay off because they tell other people what a great bartender you are and then your shifts start to get more busy as time goes on.

Listening more and talking less is the best way to to socialize, especially as a bartender.

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