If you are having issues with inventory management or pour high volumes and could benefit from avoiding a 2-4oz spillage per pour, this system could be right for you.
Spills from overpouing could be detrimental to your budget.
Imagine this scenario: A standard keg holds 124 pints. If you buy that keg for $165, and sell pints for $7.00, you’re making a pretty good margin on that beer (over 500%). But you’re losing volume to accidental over-pours, free pints, and server error (for the sake of the scenario, we’ll say about two ounces per pour and five “free beers”), you’re only selling 105 pints, and have lost almost $150 in sales per keg.
That math might seem a bit extreme, but it clearly demonstrates the loss potential for a bar or restaurant. Enter draft control systems. In the simplest definition, a draft control system is a system designed to limit the amount of beer, cider, or wine poured from a tap by using a programmed device. Systems range from monitoring liquid as it leaves draft lines (like the Auper Draft Manager) to devices that can be programmed to only dispense certain serving sizes (such as Berg’s Tap2). Devices that only monitor outflow, but don’t control it are considered passive systems, while those that restrict volume are active control systems.
There are some pretty clear benefits of installing a draft control system after reading through the above scenario, most importantly cost control. With active control systems, the cost controls are immediate. A pint of beer being poured will always be exactly 16 ounces, with no concern that an employee will accidentally over pour and waste two to four ounces. Even with passive systems, there is still the ability to correct behaviors that create waste. Providing extra training to an employee who rung up a pint of beer, but actually poured 19 ounces through the line should fix the issue moving forward.
The employee monitoring benefit that passive control systems offer isn’t quite as important with systems like the Berg Tap2, that wont allow pours more than a certain number of ounces, but the system still keeps track of who is pouring what products. This is great for identifying best selling products and who is selling how many pints, making it a great asset for server incentives.
Keeping an eye on inventory levels is a benefit that both active and passive systems do equally well. This can give someone who isn’t at every shift a clear view of inventory levels, from when the most beer or cider is sold, or how low the bar is on a certain product. This becomes an asset when ordering more product. Knowing your staff will likely go through two kegs of a certain beer in one weekend means you wont under-order. More importantly, it can help prevent over-ordering, and sitting on inventory or serving older product.
The largest drawback of these systems seems to be the cost associated with them. Auper’s Draft Manager costs an initial $3,550 for equipment (12 taps), plus $500 per year for the software. For a more advanced system like the Berg Tap2, you’ll pay upwards of $9,000, depending on number of taps, software, and installation. Think back to the scenario from the beginning. You’d recover $150 in sales per keg, but if you’re only pouring a few kegs worth of beer a week; it’ll take years to recoup your investment.
Knowing inventory numbers, what your staff is pouring, and the other data that a draft control system provides can save you quite a bit of money in the long run, but only if you actually use the data. Monitoring is beneficial, but action is a must if you want to see the benefits of the system. Employees may work harder to prevent over pouring drinks when a system is installed, but if they’re not provided with feedback, they may slip back into old habits.
As a server, there’s a large concern that the monitoring system will not differentiate between an over-pour due to human error and an issue with equipment that may result in excessive foam in a beer. While most draft control systems claim to differentiate the two, it could create issues if the scenario was unclear. When looking at data, management should be aware that some issues cannot be explained with numbers, and should look for clarification before assuming that an employee is doing something incorrectly.
ROI and You
Remember back to the beginning scenario. You’ve just installed a draft control system, and you’re now retaining that extra $150 per keg (an extra $110 in profit, rounded for simplicity). If you’re going through 15 full kegs a week, you could cover your costs in less than six months, depending on the system purchased. Not using your taps as much? Then you may not want to invest in the time, equipment, and software involved in a draft control system. Overall, draft control systems can be a great way to monitor your draft products, and can be a huge asset in ensuring that you’re not under or over stocking your bar. Used correctly, the benefits of a system will easily outweigh the drawbacks, and can even encourage employees to sell more product.
If you liked reading this article, you may also like: Keg Management: Creating a Long Term Growth Strategy.