May 11, 2023

The Preparation Blog

Scout’s Honour

Through years of working in the hospitality industry we have found that one of the biggest problems lies in the lack of joined up – coherent thinking when it comes to a bar operation. Some bars might have the most efficient set-ups, squeezing the bar for every profit opportunity including the morale of the staff and the quality of the product.

Sometimes the opposite can be true. Bars can look exceptional, laden with liqueurs and bitters donated from Girolamo Luxardo’s own cabinet! The mixologists are earning great money yet no premium price can meet the margins required to be successful and the wastage is counter-productive. Striking the right balance for your business is therefore critical and only through comprehensive planning can this be achieved.

Forecast is looking P&Ls

Forecasting is a great example of preparation positively affecting profitability. By converting all the underlying factors and targets of an operation into a fully analysed Profits and Loss (P&L) report, we can build a strong foundation for our clients to understand an event’s potential and make more informed decisions.

We look to do this at every event, large or small, to understand the show’s parameters, the scope with which we can operate and the budgets we have to work with. A full P&L will give our client’s

  • Total revenue breakdown with a target Spend per Head
  • Gross Profit totals across top line products and the overall show
  • Total bar-related costs and breakdown
  • A detailed outline of running costs based on your budget
  • A full staffing matrix to formulate budgets
  • An operational overview of drinks category sales splits
  • Fully researched drinks costings
  • Project length scenarios complete with different staffing level requirements

This product will also ‘stress test’ business models through more challenging periods or be used as a basis for scaling up operations. It can also dramatically lower costs on infrastructure as purchases are based on need. In essence, with this product, you can see whether projects are worth pursuing, how far they can be pushed or whether a review is needed on capacities or ticket prices.


I am Batchman

P&Ls are just the starting point though and this same level of detailed preparation informs our processes through all facets of the business: ordering, batching, staffing, financials and reporting. This ensures that there is consistency across the board, that there is clarity and transparency between ourselves and the client and that we are always working with justified facts and figures, not educated guesses.

This is especially necessary for operations like batching where we often deal with huge amounts of literage and accuracy is paramount. We touch upon our processes in our ‘Product’ blog but in terms of preparation, a huge amount of work goes into the production of the drinks without a drop being poured. We design and build food safe batching factories for temporary event spaces, train staff to use high volume batching equipment and organise detailed plans and recipe calculators to give the support staff the knowledge and tools they need to make thousands of litres of cocktails accurately and efficiently.

You just made this personal

As part of our preparation procedure we take all aspects of an operation and personalise it for our client. A good example of this is how we manipulate and utilise technology.

When first starting with Secret Cinema, immediate upgrades were made to use more comprehensive BOH systems that could accurately track stock and sales. We worked closely with iZettle Pro to adapt and personalise their POS so that it could serve the unique discounts and offers Secret Cinema employed.

As our relationship has continued we have constantly reviewed our processes in an effort to establish new data sets that accurately record sales trends and reveal useful insights. In Tabology, we have formed a new partnership and challenged them to design bespoke systems for large scale festival operations that can cater for a multitude of independent traders. We also worked with them to set up an efficient ‘screening’ VIP delivery service that allowed us to deliver hot food, cocktails and popcorn to VIP’s who watched the film with minimal disruption.

With both POS systems, we have observed the capabilities, taken the initiative and adapted the software to suit our needs, rather than passively accept its default settings to try and make it work. As a result we have POS systems that extract the analysis client’s need to best understand their operations, peak audience flow and how to maximise spend per head.

Nobody’s Perfect

Our preparation though is always a work in progress and we still make mistakes.  Importantly though we always learn the lessons to improve and never become arrogant enough to think we know how to do it best.  One such mistake was our staff room.  We have in the past always made an effort to create a home from home for the team when thinking about the staff area and let them customise it how they wish.  For whatever reason when we set-up Bridgerton in early 2022, our first show back from the Pandemic, this ceremony was forgotten and a rather rudimentary staff room was put in place. 

A few weeks in we asked for (anonymous) feedback as we always do for our shows from our staff and we received a complaint about the staff room. They stated that is was poorly thought out and left them feeling that their management team didn’t value them.  This was upsetting and revealing about our state of mind during the build of the show.  In getting our first indoor show in 2 years up and running we had unintentionally abandoned our core principles of looking after people.  We set about making it right and our staff rooms have never been so homely since!  

It is these sorts of challenges that ensure we are constantly evolving; listening and reviewing our preparation techniques and systems that we build into the bar operations.  It makes sure that we are always keeping up with changes in technologies, reflecting on and improving areas such as diversity and accessibility on the bars and as always, looking for more efficient ways to improve the bottom line for our clients.