09/03/2022 Tom Dyer is a Flair Bartending Expert and Educator at The European Business School, one of the best Bartending schools.
Tom Dyer is a multi-award-winning world champion flair bartender who has been ranked top five in the last seven years. He has won over 50 international competitions, visited talk shows in 10 different countries, and has organized the world's largest flair competition. He has traveled to over 35 countries and trained over 1,000 bartenders. He teaches bartending at the European Business School and through his successful Youtube Channel ‘Tom Dyer Bartender’ where he has 64K subscribers.
Tell us a little bit about yourself. How did you begin your career and how did you progress into this role?
At 16, I started cleaning tables and running food at a restaurant called Bennigans. I moved on to the bar when I was 18 as I thought I would get more luck with the ladies. Sadly that didn't happen, so I became a waiter for a while. I didn't like that so I went back to the bar.
Not long after, I went to work at TGIFs to get better training. At this point, I was practicing flair bartending regularly after witnessing the Roadhouse World Flair Final in November 2000. After leaving TGIF and working at Cherry Jam in central London, I progressed with my flair for bartending and started competing all over the world, winning several competitions, performing shows, and giving training. Those 15 years were amazing and that is when I made a small name for myself.
I always took on new opportunities and that is what led me to own several of my businesses. I’ve owned a bar and been a part of a new Vodka where I failed and those were the biggest lessons I learned in my career.
Now I run 5 bartending schools as well as a successful Online Bar Tools Shop, along with my mom. I also have a few Youtube channels and work with brands such as Kraken Black Spiced Rum and Mozers Spirits UK.
Define your role and the tasks involved in your role.
I am living in Portugal currently so I work remotely. It is always hard to define what I do as it keeps changing all the time.
For our bartending school, I am in constant communication with our partners in each country having meetings to expand the business further. I am also liaising with my main business partner, Jay Du Toit, about the new business ideas and trying to bring those to fruition.
I work weekly on my Youtube and Social Media channels, filming and editing videos while answering comments and communicating with the subscribers. Recently, I have started a new show called “Cocktails with Flair” which can be viewed on The Avenue, a new online video platform that allows viewers to tip the performer/creator. There are a lot of exciting things coming here soon. It’s a whirlwind of different things daily which I very much enjoy.
What questions would you ask the bar owner before you plan your sales growth strategy?
After a failed bar, I've asked these questions myself over the years and thought about my second venture into bar ownership often. These questions are very simple:
1. Who is your TARGET MARKET?
We failed with our first bar because we had no idea about this. I believe this answers so many questions once you know your target market. As soon as you figure out who you want to sell to, you can then figure out what to sell, when to sell, and for how much you can sell. And of course, you will know if it will be popular or not.
2. What is your budget?
I think these are the two main questions to get started with. The list could go on and on after that but knowing these two factors will help you get started.
What do you look for in items that qualify for house pour?
Whichever product I want to try next qualifies for the house pour. Having my studio bar at home, I can choose whatever I want to pour. So I mix up my speed rail with what I want to try, old favorites, or whoever I am working with at that moment.
What are the four main things you focus on daily in your role?
1. Having fun
2. NOT procrastinating
3. Making decisions quickly
4. Being organized
5 ways to upsell drinks at the bar
Some of these are old ones which everyone should be taught when they start working behind a bar and some of these I learned myself.
1. Suggest a double to the guest and nod your head to confirm with a “yeah”. E.g. “A double shot, yeah?”
2. Flair Bartending - It draws people to your station and some people would want to buy a drink from you just to see your tricks
3. Be yourself. Talk to your guests as human beings! So many people in hospitality speak to their customers as if they are robots, just relaying information without character or soul.
4. Don't be afraid to tell your guests about more expensive items. Sometimes they will say no and other times they will appreciate the info and go with it.
5. Don’t Lie
Tips on training new bartenders
This is something I have worked on for over a decade. For some, teaching can be very difficult, but I found the best way to teach is by associating the action or idea you are teaching with something the person can relate to easily. Such as, holding the bottle like you would hold a beer bottle or tennis racket.
Also, you need to understand that everyone learns differently, so knowing different ways to explain the same concept to everyone is important.
What are the drinks trending in your country? cocktails, brand names, categories?
I live in Portugal and currently, the drinks trend is growing a lot. However, they have a lot of tourists here and thus some of the old-school classic cocktails are still popular. That being said, we are seeing more bars creating their own ingredients and trying out different flavors and styles of cocktails that are a step up from the rest.
Toca Da Raposa, Monkey Mash, or Cinco lounge are the leading cocktail bars in my opinion.
What's customer service to you
Providing an experience they cannot get anywhere else and making that person feel so special that they can't wait to come back is what customer service is to me.
Define a good bartender
Honest, humble, hardworking, and who is always willing to listen and learn.
How do you manage non-performing brands?
I drink them or you could simply mix them into a welcome punch for guests to have as a "starter" when they sit down. No one likes to wait for a drink, so it is a great way to keep them occupied while they choose their cocktail.
How can you increase your beverage sales with the selection you already have?
Not throwing anything away. For example, using all parts of citrus for different ingredients and flavor profiles.
How according to you has the role of the Bartender evolved, especially now during Covid times?
I don't think the role of the bartender has really changed. Cocktails change and people change, but a bartender is still tending a bar.
Covid is a bummer and just makes a bartender's job more difficult, but a bartender is still making drinks, serving guests all night and with a smile.
What else do you look for in a brand before saying yes apart from quality, value, and package?
Not much really. Perhaps,I look for something that has been recommended, but essentially we buy brands based on their taste mostly. The rest is simply their marketing to get you to buy the product in the first place.
Your favorite places to enjoy drinks
At the bar!
What is the best and worst part of your job?
Best - Hearing how other bartenders get inspired by something I have done
Worst - Dealing with idiots haha
Interviewed by Prithvi Nagpal, Editor & Sommelier, Beverage Trade Network
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