Phillips' chasers help keep local bars off the rocks


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Originally Posted Online: Nov. 15, 2012, 9:41 pm
Last Updated: Nov. 15, 2012, 11:43 pm
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By John Marx jmarx@qconline.com

Wyatt Phillips is Spike TV's John Taffer, minus the chest-puffing bravado.

Taffer, a longtime food-and-beverage-industry consultant specializing in nightclubs and pubs, is the star of Spike TV's reality show "Bar Rescue." He offers his professional expertise -- at no charge -- to struggling bars in order to save them from closing. Taffer's "look-at-me'' approach makes for great television.

Phillips, on the other hand, uses a low-key, business-like approach to reach out to bar and restaurant owners long before they reach the desperation point. His Bevinco Company offers a liquor inventory-control system.

"I can't say much about the relationship with our company and 'Bar Rescue','' said Phillips, who owns the Bevinco rights (software and auditing materials) for all bars in Iowa and the Illinois Quad-Cities. "But we have been a big part of 'Bar Rescue'.''

Phillips is similar to Taffer in some ways. He understands what it costs to run a food-and-beverage operation.

Phillips pointed out that national data shows bars experience 20 percent to 25 percent shrinkage in inventory each week. Shrinkage can be attributed to something as simple as an improper over-pour of a mixed drink or a draft beer by a bartender, to drinks given away, or to a variety of theft options by servers and bartenders.

Like Taffer, Phillips said he can reduce that number. He shoots for 5 percent shrinkage each audit cycle for the approximately $200 weekly fee charged to each client.

"Say there is $8,000 a week in liquor sales,'' Phillips said. "And 20 percent is going out the door in a variety of ways. We're talking about $1,600 a week you are losing. That's $1,600 a week, four weeks a month, 12 months a year, going out the door. Think about what you can do with another $75,000-plus.''

As Taffer does, Phillips' staffers perform reconnaissance to determine operational and service weaknesses in an establishment. After studying the observations made, Phillips meets with the owner and staff to discuss his findings, and to describe the changes that need to be made.

"There's nothing covert,'' Phillips said. "It's simply knowing what to look for and having a plan of attack in place. We have one that has worked. And there is no hollering and screaming or finger-pointing at staff. The facts are laid out, and we go forward.''

Coal Valley's Mulligan's Pub was far below the national shrinkage average when proprietor Pieter Hanson called on Phillips. Still, operating with 14 percent shrinkage, Mulligans's was losing, on average, $1,200 per week through shrinkage and lackluster inventory management.

After three months of working with Phillips, Hanson said, Mulligan's is at 96 percent (4 percent shrinkage). He added that Mulligan's is audited every Thursday by Phillips.

"I simply needed to see where we were,'' Hanson said. "And a lot of it was my managing of inventory. I found we were doing many things right, but that some tweaking would make us better. Wyatt saw that. He continues to monitor our progress.''

Though their styles differ, Phillips said he is grateful for Taffer and the "Bar Rescue" television show.

"Awareness is a good thing,'' Phillips said. "The more informed you are, the better it is to run your business.''


Columnist John Marx can be reached at (309) 757-8388 or jmarx@qconline.com. 
















 



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