Shift Change: Transferring Checks vs. Closing Them Out

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QUESTION FROM: Wendy in MI

“I’m open 13 - 16 hours a day so I have back to back bar shifts.
My policy is for them at shift turnover to quickly ask guests if they want to close out or transfer check to next bartender if the guest has been there a while and isn’t just starting a drink.

I have one bartender who insists on closing every tab out and who often insists on making a new round for most guests (“they wanted ME to make one more drink before I left”) and so it takes her often 30 minutes after the new bartender coming on to be closing his drawer out.

Do you have a set policy for this?

It’s not causing OT but is really annoying when I have to wait around to cash her drawer out when I have other things to do not to mention I don’t really think it’s right to leave the new bartender with a bar completely full of fresh drinks and no tips.

Every time I try to push her along her attitude feels annoyed with me but not quite enough to be disrespectful.
She is a good bartender for the most part it’s just the changeover feels greedy to me every time.”



HH ANSWER:

THE BAD NEWS:

Your current policy is an inconvenience to the guest who shouldn’t have to do anything additional (including a additional transaction, swipe or signature) in order to accommodate your SOP.

You exist to accommodate the guest - not the other way around.

This is not the same thing as when a guest leaves the bar for a table in the dining room. Offering a guest assistance in either closing out their check expeditiously or transferring it to their table is a case where YOU are adapting to THEIR action... but a shift change is YOUR action and, as the guest, they shouldn’t be expected to adapt or alter their actions.

I’d give open bar two choices:
either 1) transfer any open checks to the incoming bartender and have the departing tender say “goodbye / intro / you’ll be in good hands” to the remaining guests who may opt to tip them at that time if they like (so long as it’s not requested) or the more preferable- 2) let the incoming bartender start on a new drawer and have the open bar finish out their remaining guests before leaving.

THE GOOD NEWS:

You have an employee who has exposed a hole in your boat. Good or bad. Right or wrong, your standard operating procedures are your standard operating procedures and it’s either NOT documented, NOT signed off on or NOT enforced.... and possibly all 3 - which, IMHO, is far worse than a bartender’s greed and “almost disrespectful“ attitude.

You can gradually work someone off the schedule for the latter issue but the former issue can cause (and probably has already caused) far more problems.

Best of Luck,

Josh