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CRM Like a Pro- Follow the Plain-Jane Bartender Model

JULY 17, 2020


“Being a bartender is, like, the ultimate Customer Relationship Management model.”

When I was in college, I worked at a local hole-in-the-wall dive restaurant. The bartender who was training me was a plain-Jane woman named Danielle. Danielle didn’t wear the fanciest clothes and didn’t offer the cheapest drinks. She didn’t even make the best drinks. Yet there was always a packed house whenever Danielle was bartending. Why? 

Danielle had a solid grasp on her brand narrative. She was able to connect with her target audience and build meaningful relationships.

what danielle did right— customer relationship boot camp from a bartender

Whenever a customer sat down at the bar, Danielle put down a bar napkin, poured a glass of water and then said “So what’s your story?”

CRM tips from a Bartender #1: Never start with the sale… but always assume it.

Danielle started by giving a freebie of value: a glass of water. A thirst quenching, life-sustaining glass of cold water. The water was always free, but when she put the napkin down you knew a long tab was not far behind. 

When Danielle said “What’s your story?”, it opened up the space for conversation. Her signature opening line made it about the customer. This was the second thing she did right…

CRM tips from a Bartender #2: Let the customer walk you through the sales process.

The customer opens up, tells Danielle what is going on, and then came her second signature line: 

“Oh, wow! Yes, you do need a drink. Let’s get you a G&T.”

Her drink recommendation was always on-point. The customer was almost always happy with their drink selection, and what’s more… they never asked for the price.

After the suggested drink was gone and more conversation later, the customer was ready for more. The customer was totally fine with whatever Danielle recommended. 

Then they closed their tab and almost always tipped heavily. 

And… they were back the next day. Or a few days later. Whatever. Like a bad ex with great sex, they were always back for more. 

This is how Danielle always packed the house at Bogen’s Bar. There were a million bars in Blacksburg, Virginia… but there was only one Danielle. 

I asked Danielle if she liked being the town’s conversational dump truck. 

“Eh, it keeps me busy and makes life interesting”, she shrugs. 

So let’s rethink how we approach our CRM and customer relationship management. 

First, let’s put down our bar napkin. Maybe this is in your Live Chat when a visitor comes to your site. Maybe this is when you get a customer inquiry from your website contact page. 

Maybe it is when someone DMs you on Social Media. 

Then, we ask them...  what is their story? What brings them to us? 

We dive in deeper. We find out more. Then, we give them a little ease and comfort. We give them the glass of water. 

What that looks like, is a lead magnet. Or a copy of our ebook. 

Then, we continue to foster that relationship. 

We want our bar of a business to be their new “third place” on the web. 

So let’s stop thinking about our CRM like a chore for our business sales process, and start thinking about it like it’s our Friday-and-Saturday-night booming, bustling bar and the joint is jumping. Think of it as a fun opportunity to make life interesting.