Top Ten Reasons to get turned down or fired as a Bar Manager
By: Adam Judd
Adam Judd was a bar manager for the Night Wish Group for five years from 2014-2019. He still works for the Night Wish Group in a support role. He saw in this time period close to a hundred people come and go as bar managers, including many who never made the cut at all. He dealt with training and even assisting to hire many of the candidates for years. He has compiled this list of the top ten reasons he saw people lose their jobs or not get hired as a bar manager. The list is in no particular order and has a variety of different reasons. This is designed for those looking to be a manager to learn from what doesn’t work to stay employed and to avoid making the same mistakes or for those who aren’t a fit for the job to understand why. This list is mostly specific for the job as a Night Wish Bar Manager but can be applied to most bar management settings in Pattaya and Thailand.
1. Be an introvert and not like to talk to people
This one sounds obvious, but I often met people who wanted to be a bar manager and were just NOT a people person. If you are shy, introverted, don’t enjoy talking and listening, can’t stand small talk and random conversations, dislike engaging strangers, prefer to sit on your phone all day and ignore people, don’t appreciate meeting people from different cultures and backgrounds then the job isn’t for you. This is perhaps one of the biggest reasons people don’t get hired or given a chance…they just aren’t extroverts. The single biggest part of the job is engaing and hosting with customers, building an audience of regular customers and loyal friends and patrons who return year after year. It requires an incredible amount of self promotion in person and online. If you can’t build relationships and you’re not someone who brings others together or the life of the party, you won’t last long. If you fake it, by the way, you will be caught out quickly.
2. Like to fight when you’re drunk and are aggressive
This is another big one. Working as a bar manager for Night Wish you will drink daily as you interact with customers. Besides the obvious of handling your liquor and being functioning if you are aggressive when drunk you won’t last long. If you like to punch an annoying customer in the face, smash bottles around in rage, storm into other bars on the street and fight the owners over petty arguments, threaten to kill someone who made a snide comment online, etc. the job isn’t for you. The issue here is very few angry drunks will admit they are an angry drunk and promise that they will NEVER lose their temper and get in a fight drunk. The moment they do, their career as a bar manager is over quickly.
3. Brag about your CV and your previous accomplishments
I can’t tell you how many times we had a candidate who talked about running bars in the West for twenty years, or how successful they were, how great they are and how much of an asset they will be to the business. Western bars are very, very different from bars in Pattaya and to start with if you ran a business back home chances are nearly one hundred percent that your entire staff were native residents of your country and not people who speak a different language and have a different culture then you. This is before even taking into effect that in most cases people who ran successful bars back home were usually not in tourist areas and have little experience dealing with a diverse customer base from all around the world speaking different languages and with different cultures. Anyone who isn’t ready to learn and understand that running a bar here is a completely new experience will generally fail and not be given a chance as a manager.
4. Treat the staff as a disposable dating base and be disrespectful
This is another important one. It is often the first rule a trial manager for Night Wish is told. Your staff is your staff. You should treat them with respect and as a staff member. You are not a customer in your business and they are not “bargirls” for you. Touching them, flirting with them, being anything but professional is an instant way to lose your job and get terminated. One thing I am very proud of is the respect I had from my staff. I had very little turnover in the years I ran a bar and had many girls loyal to me…in an industry that many people say there is no loyalty. This is because I treated them like team members, rewarded them for meeting sales goals and always kept the boss/employee line very clear and separate, not hanging out with them outside of work, chatting with them on messenger, flirting with them, touching them or anything further. If you cannot keep your hands to yourself, the job isn’t for you and you will not last long.
5. Having a psycho girlfriend or wife who stalks you at work
This is one a lot of people don’t think about. A lot of guys want to get a job to stay in Pattaya and many of them want to stay as they meet a woman here they want to stay with. Although I believe it is better for managers to stay single in this work, most of our managers have girlfriends or are even married. That being said I cannot tell you how many times we had issues or had to let people go because they could not separate work and a personal life. If your girlfriend or significant other wants to sit at the bar all day, it doesn’t work. We don’t even allow them to visit for a few minutes because of problems that have happened. What usually happens is either a customer hits on the girlfriend or wife and the manager loses his mind or the manager has a female customer purchase them a drink and the girlfriend loses her mind. Additionally, a guy who spends most of his day on his phone talking or messaging his girlfriend or dealing with various problems and drama is not focused on the job and it is not good for business.
6. Have a drug problem
This is another fairly obvious one but if you have a serious drug problem (including booze!) you aren’t cut out for the job. We have had candidates show up for a ten hour shift so drunk and on a day long bender that they couldn’t stand. We have had candidates bring their own bottle of Sangsom to work. Yes, part of the job is drinking with customers but the job isn’t to get so intoxicated every day that you cannot function or run your business correctly. Of course, the harder drugs are an issue as well. If you are off your head on substances that are against the law not only does it put the entire business and ownership at risk but it also means that you are not in control of yourself and cannot be a manager. We regularly drug test staff, including managers. I’m asked a lot about marijuana…yes it was recently decriminalized but it is technically still against the law for any use except medical with the proper doctors certificates. Being baked off your head every day is also not good for business.
7. Never be in your bar, constantly roam around
This is a huge problem. It’s usually the second rule new managers are taught after treating the staff respectfully. Especially for new managers who have yet to develop a regular customer base the job can at times be very boring and you will go long periods without a friend or someone to talk to. A new manager, instead of making connections on social media and being creative about ways to bring customers into the business and ensuring the staff is on target with engaging potential customers will often wander around the soi or even Pattaya in general. They usually like to say they are going to meet customers or network with other managers and owners. What actually happens is they are bored and go around, spending money, engaging with staff at other bars, getting drunk, etc. Without fail almost every problem a bar has is usually if the manager has stepped out for a minute. It’s long hours and long days, we get it. We even ask our managers to order food or eat in their bars because stepping out for lunch for an hour is usually impractical and it’s when either a problem takes place or a loyal regular customer stops in to see you. If you like to wander and leave the bar you will not be a manager for long, at least with Night Wish.
8. Have a low tolerance for booze, be a non drinker or be a sloppy, annoying drunk
Another big one, along with being an aggressive drunk. First off, if you are a non drinker, you are not a candidate for a Night Wish bar manager. Yes, some successful managers at other bars and gogos don’t drink. However, their business models are very different and a key component of running a successful bar for us is engaging with customers, having drinking contests and being the life of the party. If a party animal offers you a shot of Fireball and you say no, you only drink water, the customer will go elsewhere normally. Our most successful managers are able to be functioning drinkers and still be the life of the party with a customer. If you have a low tolerance and tend to pass out after a few drinks, you also won’t last long. If the management constantly finds you passed out in the back or upstairs somewhere, you won’t last long. Finally, if you are the type of person drunk who is just a mess…vomiting everywhere, stumbling around and touching everyone, being annoying and bothering customers and clearing out your own bar, you don’t last long in the role.
9. Reinvent the wheel and constantly challenge management
As an American in our culture it is very common to constantly come up with new ideas and processes and challenge your management. In fact, my old company thrived on this and people often get promoted due to this. Night Wish has done this for a long time and almost every idea someone can think of has been tried and tested. We are successful because our business model works and our policies have been proven over years. New ideas are always welcome but new managers often want to dive in head first with a million ideas and want to run before they can walk. This was a challenge for me and is a challenge for many of our managers, especially Americans due to our culture. If you want to come in and immediately want to reinvent the way we run the bars, change policies that work, challenge the General Manager and claim they are doing it wrong, the job won’t be for you and we suggest perhaps looking into your own independent bar so you can try your own ideas and policies on your own. Constantly conflicting with management and arguing with them is a quick way to lose your job.
10. Be Boring.
Ok, this is a tough one but another reason guys often don’t work out. We often get guys who don’t violate any of the other items on this list. They are nice people, they do all the work of a manager well, they are reliable, they do all the basics and are generally solid workers and solid people. However, they simply can’t seem to make their bar that profitable or have a large customer base. This is almost always because they are simply not that engaging or charismatic and as a result customers don’t go to visit them or spend time with them. It isn’t a personal knock on these candidates and we often try to help find them other roles if they aren’t a good candidate for a manager but don’t have any other issues. It simply means that a role of being a host isn’t suited to them. These are generally guys who struggle to come up with topics of conversation or getting other people to talk about themselves. This is also guys whose primary topic of conversation is one thing, such as football, and try to apply this topic to every customer, even those who don’t like football. The best managers are ones who have many topics of conversation and are able to bounce between them.
11. BONUS-Have strong opinions that you constantly express
Bonus item and one that has caused many guys to lose their jobs and not be hired. The best managers are very neutral. You will hear guys all day with opinions that may conflict with your own. I heard more racism and outrageous statements as a bar manager then I ever heard in the states. However, you are neutral and cannot get into arguments or long debates. If you are the type of person who constantly gets into political arguments, has loud and strong opinions on religion, immigration, presidents, gun control, government, conspiracy theories, etc. you will quickly alienate a customer base. We carefully monitor our managers social media accounts as when you take the job you brand yourself and brand the company. If we see a potential candidates page is full of support for ISIS (it has happened before), constantly demeaning races , countries or ethnic groups, attacking people on Facebook groups and constantly involved in arguments online, etc. they won’t be hired. We have had candidates apply and then we look at their online social accounts and they spend nearly every day insulting Indians or Chinese and don’t get the job. We welcome all customers and treat everyone with respect.
There is more but this is a great start. We welcome comments.
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