Boosting sales by 30% in a failed bar by not accepting mediocrity.

Photo by Ash Edmonds on Unsplash

We all are good — at something. The thing is though, there are those that strive for greatness in everything they do. For them, work isn’t done to be acceptable. Work is completed with near perfect execution to be talked about. Corners aren’t cut to save time because the job has to be carried out correctly, and that could take a while. We don’t brag about how good we are but have a strong sense of pride in completing our tasks flawlessly. Leaders stand out in a world of mediocrity and the work always speaks for itself.

So many people accept being just okay because it’s gotten them through life thus far. But honestly, being acceptable will just get you through paying your bills and maybe falling into an occasional raise if your stars align with proper timing. We hastily fail to realize in our digital consumption-ism that stopping to look around and accomplish tasks feels great.

When tasked with taking over a bar that failed to capitalize on a busy street, in a busy town, my initial plan was to walk in on a Friday night and see what has gone wrong and find out as to how the bar was generating only a couple thousand dollars per week. This was the bar in your town that has the negative stigma because quality of patron and experience are both below the water.

Walking through the doors the lights were extremely bright with zero direction, the speakers were blaring 1980s rock with zero bass and an abundance of high pitch noises piercing eardrums… and that was only the beginning. The whiskey bar had cheep vodka light up signs and crappy fake aluminum beer signs all over this beautiful reclaimed wood. The back bar was a disaster from layout to register areas. Drinks were being made with the manufactured chemical they call Rose’s Lime Juice and the poor girl behind the bar had to keep running off to keep this ship afloat. The question to myself was — how do bar owners that have several other establishments allow a place to fall this far off the deep end?

Why we settle with mediocrity

Competition — In an environment where no one pushes each other to solve for a more complex equation we lose drive to achieve more.

Lack of Leadership — We get paid don’t we? Why do we need to clean the bar mats? Who cares if the tables are dirty. Those who don’t harness the leadership gene need guidance. Everyone has their own level of acceptance and content. Leaders aid in breaking that barrier and requesting a higher standard of practice.

Vision — Societal practices such as paying bills, showing up to work, and general hardships often take away from our creativity. We forget to take time and map our own visions and goals out and create a plan to achieve them.

The next few months were spent injecting cash flow into the heart of the bar like a defibrillator to an unconscious pulse. I questioned why a bartender has to go empty a bucket every 20 minutes where water was dripping from the ceiling (apparently we decided to accept this major piece of time consumption with previous management), we fixed the staircase to the basement to avoid a future lawsuit, with such high ceilings we installed outdoor rope lights within to help make the room feel more full when it was empty, and the list continues for days. I created a list of manual changes that had to be made to the environment and crossed them off in an order I’m very big on: TME.

Time. Movement. Efficiency.
“Equations written in chalk on a worn-out blackboard” by Roman Mager on Unsplash

I love this loosely based equation. It’s what separates the doers from the procrastinators. When you have multiple tasks that need completion we need to calculate: How much time will the task take?, How much movement (or steps) are required to complete the task? And how much efficiency can I produce in my return on investment in completing the task? TME is a moving equation for prioritizing your tasks, train yourself to think this way. I averaged my list by finding happy mediums that always would satisfy the efficiency of the business considering I was solving for higher revenues.

The weekly cash sheets (what restaurant and bar owners reflect on to compare sales week by week) were steadily increasing showing proof that our investments were paying off instantly. By the end of my 6 month contract with the bar our sales were up 30% from the time that I began the job. In actuality, this was a project — a real live testing facility where I got to apply all of the skills soaked up over the years doing what seemed to be “irrelevant infinity learning” at the time.

I was able to apply a clean professional website aesthetic to a non-existent landing page using HTML and Graphic Design knowledge that I began learning when I was 15. I Automated email responses in some cases and created e-mail blasts in others which I managed often while working for Victor Cruz’ (previous NY Giant and pro-salsa dancer) clothing brand Young Whales. Was also able to carry out my belief in dissolving gray areas within businesses to create harmony in ideas and execution because time and time again ownership often refuses to lay down solid laws in the sand to create definitives amongst employees.

We’re offering you the position of General Manager for both stores.

This whiskey bar project was attached to a notable beer bar that essentially erected in a time when craft beer wasn’t existent. They were known for their tequila lime wings and in a time when instagram and facebook photos didn’t really exist — they thrived being one of the top food destinations in this large town. Times change though, and so do trends. In an effort of cost cutting and bringing in cheaper labor you often also are getting what you pay for.

You may have heard by now that success doesn’t happen overnight. Your ultimate success comes from linking all of your small projects together until that tumbleweed gets bigger and bigger. I never accepted that role of General Manager. We are entrepreneurs who work for ourselves. We squeeze all of our available time to learn daily. We re-apply our learning to real life experiences. If I worked 70 hours per week, I couldn’t be here now passing on my learning experiences to those that infinitely learn by understanding the lessons.


// Time. Movement. Efficiency.