Spike TV’s Bar Rescue and Optimizing Restaurants and Nightclub Operations

Posted on September 3, 2012 | in Defects, Error-Proofing, Lean Wastes, Motion, Small Business, Standardized Work, Training | by

Bar Rescue Spike TV Jon Taffer Piratz nightclub bar tavern

Happy Labor Day!

Between baseball games, grilling out, running, and kicking off the college football season I was introduced to a show on Spike TV called Bar Rescue, and I’m absolutely hooked.

Bar and nightclub business consultant Jon Taffer helps struggling establishments improve operations by identifying issues (with personnel, service, technology, facilities, and offerings) and implementing tried-and-true solutions to improve customer experience, attract new customers, and create repeat customers.

Some of his tactics are tough to handle – he’s very loud, angry, and over the top – but he is also brutally honest and doesn’t pull any punches. With the assistance of technical experts (in service, bartending, kitchen chefs, facilities upkeep, and others) he goes after anything that is standing in the way of an establishment being profitable, even if that means a complete rebranding of a nightclub whose name remains associated with a murder outside its doors three years earlier.

Taffer treats the bars and nightclubs like they are businesses, which they are. Bars and nightclubs are intended to be fun entertainment venues but they can only exist when there is a positive cash flow and they are providing value. The quicker managers and employees realize this, the quicker they can begin to reduce wasteful activities and habits and start becoming financially viable.

The show’s five-day transformations are like a complete Lean transformation for small businesses. It’s as if they’ve instituted week-long kaizen events that touch everything in the business.

Each show I’ve seen has started out with a fact-finding mission by one of Taffer’s associates doing investigative work undercover. A lot of customer-facing issues are discovered this way – bad service, bad food, bad drinks, staff interaction with patrons, patron-patron interactions, and safety.

After Taffer meets with the management and the staff shortly after the recon work, the first major project tends to be a major 5S effort. It’s hard to implement improvements when all of the work is being done in an unorganized and non-standard environment, so everything gets cleaned and organized – unneeded stuff (like spoiled food) is thrown away, a semblance of order is implemented so that everything has a place, and there is a LOT of cleaning typically resulting from years of neglect and health code violations left uncorrected.

The kitchen, bar, and wait staff receive some expert training in their occupations – learning how to cook properly and possible overhaul of the menu, the bartenders learn how to properly make drinks and perhaps adding to the drink repertoire – before what Taffer refers to as a “stress test” of putting all of the employees in a high-production evening with lots of customers hired to essentially make them crack.

This stress test essentially becomes a PDCA implementation – Plan, Do, Check, Act. The staff has learned how to do a lot of operations properly through expert training, and then on a small scale they implement these changes when they count and see what works. After the stress test the team regroups to check what new ideas need to be reconsidered or what can be further added.

There are so many other Lean elements in the show that keep me glued to the television – standardized works for the cooks by having recipes kept in sight at all times, regular 5S concepts maintained in the establishment, patron flow through the restaurant, elimination of excess motion behind the bar, visual controls of temperatures to optimize yield of beer, making multiple servings of the same mixed drink that is ordered frequently (use of small batches but making one at a time is a lot of excess motion), point-of-sale systems helping error-proof – that I won’t examine in great detail here, but it stands as a reminder that bars and restaurants are businesses, and all businesses have key operational processes that need to be optimized.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...
TAGS: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

4 Responses to “Spike TV’s Bar Rescue and Optimizing Restaurants and Nightclub Operations”

  1. Mark Graban says:

    I’ve been a big fan of this show for a while… you beat me to blogging about it.

    I can understand why Taffer gets so pissed off — many of these bars and restaurants are doing things that can literally make people sick… the managers need a wake up call.

    This show, along with Kitchen Nightmares, are more about the expert consultant giving answers than it is a real lean improvement process. I agree there are many lean-like concepts – 5S, flow, standardized work, and leadership concepts.

    It shows the challenges of a weeklong kaizen event – in the pressure to get stuff done and to maximize the consultant’s value, you might be tempted to just get answers instead of learning a process you can continue yourself.

    In this show, many of the bars revert back to the bad old name and approach… they didn’t own the change. So, we have “backsliding” ala lean events… but it shouldn’t be surprising.

    The show gives you plenty to think about, though, related to lean AND where you choose to go out to eat/drink.

  2. Pingback: I Wholeheartedly Approve the Violation of this Visual Control — Lean Blog

  3. Pingback: How to Create a Dysfunctional Culture Where Employees & Customers Are Unhappy | Lean Blog

  4. Pat Young says:

    I just started watching Bar Rescue and I love Jon Taffer. He not only renews the bars, but he renews the owners who have completely given up all hope of ever being able to get back their life that they lost. Jon gives them everything they need to get their bars rejuvenated and alive again but he also fixes broken families and owners who have just lost all confidence in themselves. He is a healer of hearts and spirits (no pun intended). I am not a bar person, never was, but I love to watch how he handles himself. He is fierce and honest and doesn’t give up. I think I would have punched out quite a few of the owners he has dealt with during his first interview with them. They act like idiots and he lets them know they are idiots and he never lets that get in his way of his quest. I’ve only seen him walk away from one job and that is amazing. I hope your program continues to be a success and is on forever. I promise I will watch them all as long as you are on TV. Jon, you are great and I am a huge fan

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Get Lean Blitz in your Inbox!

Subscribe to a daily digest of Lean Blitz posts by clicking here!