In the Mind of the World’s Fastest Bartender – Part 2

Welcome back to the second part of our interview with the world’s fastest bartender, Sheldon Wiley!

In the first part of the interview, we focused on advice for people joining the industry, Sheldon’s own experiences, and what it really looked like working as a bartender at the top of his game.  

In this second part, we’re going to focus on where he thinks the industry is headed alongside some of the hurdles Sheldon has encountered in his long and illustrious career.

Insights Into the Industry

Sheldon has been around the block in the nightlife industry. He started in 1999 and worked his way up to his current title. On top of that, he’s also played as a DJ in countless venues and made a name for himself as an authority.

When asked about a part of the industry that he believes could be improved, he immediately pointed out the traditional operational systems.

Certainly running payments. It’s always been a gripe of mine and I always thought, “why can’t there just be a quicker way to process payments so that you don’t have your back turned to the guest?” Because that CAN become part of your workflow throughout the night but you always have to turn around and reset.

I’ll time the bartenders and I’ll see how long they’ve been standing in front of the terminal vs. how long they’re actually entertaining the guests and their needs.

It’s at least a third of the time, sometimes half of the time, they’re processing payments. OR standing in front of the terminal looking for something.

So, that’s probably one of my biggest pet peeves. Because I don’t think the process is being maximized. I think it’s too traditional. Maybe there’s a fear of change from an operational standpoint or an acceptance, generally speaking.

I believe that it could be more beneficial to not only the staff but the venue and most importantly, the guest if they have more drinks in their hand and they’re being tended to.

You can have that back and forth with them instead of thinking about the other 5 things you need to do when you turn your back. Whether it’s entering drinks in or processing a payment and having to count money or whatever it is.

You can be a lot more focused on them and giving them what they need.”  

Sheldon made it clear throughout his interview, that he wholeheartedly believed that his job was in hospitality. That meant his first priority was the patron.

Anything that took time away from that was time that could have made the guest experience better, gotten people more drinks, and ended up benefiting the venue and bartender with more revenue.

In that same vein, his second point tied into the first.

Another thing is the out time and this might just be my age. I’m certainly not getting any younger. I also have a kid that’s about be 3 years old. He gets up between 6:30AM – 7AM. So, I mean, if you do the math, that’s not a whole lot of time for me to get some sleep.

In the process at the end, inputting all of these service charges and the tip amounts so you can run the report and figure out what the house gets, what the staff gets in regards to tips. It’s very time consuming.

If the bank loan is not high enough and the staff is owed more money from the bank downstairs. Then, you have to wait for that money to come up and that can take some time if the management is doing other things.

There’s certainly some variables regarding to that as well.

Ultimately that process in itself takes a big chunk of time. So, a pet peeve for me, is that every single night I’m trying to get home sooner.

I feel as if we’re stuck in this dinosaur warp pre-historic process that ultimately could be sped up.”

He made sure to hammer down on the point that, from a bartender perspective, there was an urgent need to move past the ‘traditional system’.

A system that that leads to a lot of cash handling or individual transaction processing. To streamline that would mean really clearing the way for bartenders to engage their guests.

“It would improve in a lot of different areas. It would improve the guest experience, which is first and foremost from a hospitality perspective. Obviously, let’s not forget that when you’re there as a staff member, you’re there to make money and that’s because that’s your job. So, if ever, you can maximize that, it’s sort of what it’s all about.

Especially in a tip structured system. And of course, all of that promotes return revenue for the venue, which is great for the owner and management if they have incentives.

All of it, as a whole, seems like a no brainer to me. If you have a system that is efficient and can operate in the environment, yes.”

Looking Forward

Having given insight into the current state of affairs, Sheldon tied his thoughts into what he thought the industry could look like in 3-5 years.

The changes were focused on streamlining operations so that the patron service could become a more central role. Happy customers, happy staff, and a stronger bottom line for owners.

“Pertaining specifically to the hospitality world, I think it’s inevitable that you begin processing payments through an app. And really reshaping the experience and making it more convenient for the guest.

I believe you could do it in such a way that it’s beneficial for the bartender, beneficial for the owner.

I believe it means more money for the bartenders because their processing less payments and they have their back turned to the guests less. Which means that the guest is the primary focus. So, when the guest is the primary focus, you’re not only enhancing their experience, you’re also putting more drinks into their hands.”

Then, stepping out of his role as a bartender, Sheldon also sympathized with his own guests.

“There’s nothing that we, as customers, dislike more than going to bars and restaurants and nightclubs and waiting to be served. That’s not what we pay for our good, hard-earned money for to have to wait. We could practice patience at home. When we go out and spend our money, we’re looking to be taken care of.”

Furthermore, as someone who consults for bars, has dabbled in ownership, and worked as a bartender, Sheldon thought the trends of the industry heavily affected venue owners and managers as well.

“So, I believe that there’s a benefit to the guest in increasing guest satisfaction. I believe there’s a benefit to the bartender or server because they’re able to maximize what they can make because they’ll be taking in more orders which means more revenue, which ultimately means more tips.

And of course, mentioning revenue, that’s great for the owner. If everything else falls into line, you have a happy staff, happy guest. That promotes return revenue for the establishment.”

Lastly, Sheldon thought it was important to highlight a rarely discussed subject in the nightlife industry.  

“And another thing that is not talked a lot in this industry is that there is a pretty high degree of theft and that goes against the bottom line from an operational standpoint. I think less handling of cash would really help in establishments’ bottom line at the end of the day.

Overall, I think it’s a no brainer and I think it’s one of those things that’s really good for all parties involved. Patron, management, operator, and staff.”

Much of Sheldon’s insight was focused on where the industry was headed and how technology was going to be the path to get there. Whether that be a drink ordering app like Noble or the table booking technologies on the market, it’s inevitable that venue owners have to ride the tide to greater success.

A Big Thank You And Where to Find Sheldon

Sheldon’s Socials:

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In the Mind of the World’s Fastest Bartender – Part 1

There are a lot of fantastic bartenders but only one can boast the title of “World’s Fastest Bartender.” That is Sheldon Wiley, a 3 time Guinness Record Book holder.

Wiley, a virtuoso behind the bar and even behind the booth as a musician, took time out of his day to sit down for an interview with Noble discussing the ups and downs that come with the bartending profession.

We discussed his nightly routine, where he thinks the bartending industry is headed, and a few questions that would help anyone looking to get involved in the profession.


Getting Started in Bartending And Advice for Beginners


When Sheldon got started in bartending, he was doing it 3-4 nights a week with the goal of putting a little extra cash into his pocket. Fortunately for him, his impressive ability to focus and hand/eye coordination made him a natural talent.

When asked about what insight he’d give to people joining the industry, he focused a lot on the flexibility and money prospects:

“Well, the flexibility for sure, if you’re going through school or if you’re an actor/actress. The hours tend to be a little shorter. You don’t necessarily have to work 5-6 days a week…I probably won’t do past 3 days a week as a bartender now.”

On top of the flexibility of the role, Sheldon makes it clear that bartending is a profession that pays really well for those who do their job.

“So, you’re flexibility is definitely there. And with that flexibility, you also can make more money than you could in a 9-5. And I think that’s pretty big. It offers you a lifestyle that you can focus on the things that you want to do if the industry is not your primary focus. That’s okay because that will give you another 3-4 days a week to focus on what you want to do when you grow.

You want to make as much money as possible in the least amount of time. Something, I believe, is possible in this industry.”

A Night In the Shoes of a World-Class Bartender


Alongside his insight into the role as a beginner, Sheldon went into detail about what a night looks like for him and his team now:

“You do your pre-shift around 11:20.

And then everything gets rocking by 11:30.

Doors open, the lights go down, music cranks up.

You get your bank loan in and the people flood in…

Once the people come in, we get to rocking. At places that I’ve worked at, you’re gunning from the time that you open to the time that you close.

I’m taking orders from the bar patrons, making the drink orders for the cocktail servers. I typically work the service bar because there is a little more multitasking involved.

You’re focused on the floor as well as the bar. That’s what I do throughout the night.

Wrapping up at about 4am.

Lights come on, music shuts off, and the guests are ushered to the exit.

Then, the fun part, that’s where you begin closing out all the checks.

On a good night, there are easily a couple hundred checks that you have to close out. That way the house gets paid, you can determine how much you’re getting paid based off of your tip amounts, and then you divvy up the money and go on your way.

Which is roughly about 5:30 am – 6 am.”

That was Sheldon’s short and sweet version of the beginning to the end of a shift with all the logistical hurdles mixed in. When discussing what bartending was like during prime time, he really honed in on how important focus is:

“You can get distracted. It’s typically a fun environment and it’d be easy to be around people that are poking around. Then, you might run out of something and maybe you have to run all the way to the basement…to go get a new bottle.

Maybe the bar back is preoccupied. Any time you’re taking your focus…off of your work station. I mean standing in front of the bar, making drinks, and interacting with guests. Any time you do that, it could easily take you out of your workflow. So, you have to pop back up, get back into it, and reset.

When I say reset, get right back into that flow that you were in a minute or two before or maybe even less. All it could take is a couple of seconds of you having to turn your back or having to actually leave the bar in order to be taken out of that zone.

So, for me, personally, I don’t like to leave the bar to even go to the restroom. I make sure to do that before the shift starts. Because I want to optimize the guest experience, which means me being on top of my game.”

He put it in the mindset of an athlete during crunch time. How important it is to remain in the zone and deliver at your best. Not only that but how maintaining that focus helps your bottom line:

“Say you’re playing basketball, the game’s really intense, and you have to go to the free throw line to shoot your throw. Right before you get ready to shoot it, you have to go to the restroom. That’s gonna throw you off.

You can lose track of the order in which you’re taking the drink orders from guests. Who ordered what, maybe you set the drinks you just prepared in front of the wrong people. You’ve probably already lost $20 in tips just in the time it takes to get back into the groove of things.

There’s certainly a lot of variables and you want to say on top of your game 100%.”

A Big Thank You And Where to Find Sheldon

This is only part one of a two-part interview with our world-class guest. We will be diving into his thoughts on where the industry is headed along with the hurdles every bartender has to jump through.

Sheldon’s Socials:

Stay tuned for part II of our interview with the world’s fastest bartender. We’ll be discussing his opinions on the future of the nightlife industry and what’s he’s learned along the way. 

3 Ways to Cut Costs At Your Bar or Nightclub

The bar and nightlife industry is worth over $24 billion. Now, what if we told you that you’re leaving a significant amount of your share of that money on the table?

Whether you’re a bar or nightclub owner, you already know that running a successful ship has to do with a lot more than just keeping your patrons happy and their glasses full.

At the end of the day, you’re running a business. With that comes questions of revenue, cutting costs, and building the most amazing customer experience possible.

You have to think about the best way to use your staff, handle logistics, and manage your inventory constantly.

Here are 3 major parts of your business you can focus on to significantly cut costs and take a bigger piece of the pie for yourself.

1. Use the Technology At Your Fingertips

The Challenge: A big part of owning a bar or nightclub is crunching the numbers.

Numbers like:

  • Inventory management
  • Checking up on your liquor stock
  • Figuring out your best selling drinks
  • Trying to understand what the busiest days/times are for your business.

That’s just the tip of the iceberg. You need to manage pour costs, handle day to day repairs, and still make sure that people have a great time when they come in.

This is where the recent advances in technology come to the rescue. Use it well and you’ll have all the tools you need to drop costs.

The Solution: There isn’t a one size fits all solution to the problem of managing the back-end logistics of the business. However, there are a few options that make it a lot easier.

A Modern POS

A modern point of sale (POS) system is the home-base for your inventory management, staff management, and sales cycle.

It’ll handle all of the logistical parts of the bar so that your bartenders can spend less time with tedious tasks and more time serving the customers.

Some of the essential requirements when evaluating a POS system are as follows:

  • Cost, such as monthly fees and swipe rates.
  • Ease of setup and use.
  • Hardware, such as touch screen, desktop, iPad/tablet and smartphone.
  • Backend features, such as inventory management.
  • Built-in solutions, such as customer relationship management (CRM) software.
  • Industry specific tools, such as online ordering for restaurants.
  • E-commerce integration.
  • Contracts and service terms.
  • Merchant services.
  • Customization options.
  • Third-party integrations.
  • Reporting and analytics.
  • Service limitations.
  • Customer service.

It’s critical to find one that fits your requirements and smooths out the logistical hassle. There are quite a few in the market with a lot of work being done to make POS’s even more efficient.

A Drink Ordering App: Noble

However, to take things to the next level, an app like Noble overhauls the whole drink ordering process and one day might even replace POS’s.

Customers are able to order, pay, and tip from their phones. Bartenders are able to deal with customers without having to approach them one by one.

Cutting out all the noise helps bartenders make 30% more drinks every hour. That’s 30% more sales every single hour of service.

Adding on to our earlier suggestion, Noble works with every POS system as well. So, you have the best of both worlds. A strong management system, an easy way to sell more drinks, and all the perks that come with being able to live on your customer’s’ phone.

2. Make Your Staff As Efficient As Possible

The Challenge: We all know the story.

You have a customer make their way through the line during rush hour. The bartender has to find them in a mob of screaming patrons. Your bartender greets the guest and asks for their order.

They communicate for a little bit, maybe they ask her what she’d recommend. Then, she goes in to enter the order, pours the drink, and serves it. She goes running back to the POS to grab the check, waits for the customer to pay, and then heads back to the POS to settle the tab.

Finally, she goes back to the guest to hand them their change or grab their receipt and collect the tip. But wait, there’s more. After all of this, she has to go back to the POS to settle the check and return to the line of waiting customers.

Just reading that exchange is exhausting.

Every step in that process is one that a bar or nightclub owner has to sit down and think about.

The more time your bartenders are running around handling the logistical parts of their job, the less time they’re pouring drinks and welcoming customers.

The Solution: There are three steps in the drink ordering process that your staff can really maximize.

Those being the moment they receive orders from the customers, the time they take to pour drinks, and the process they go through to settle payments.

The less time they’re doing the above three tasks, the more time they have to actually give your customers the service you’d like.

Your bartenders are the front line of your business. They should be easy to like and ready to charm at all times.

Often, that extremely important part of their jobs gets drowned out by the constant running around they have to do.

Some great ways to help them do their fix those three steps are to:

  1. Take the time to train them from the onset. The better they are with their POS/Drink Ordering  App, the quicker they’ll be during rush hour.
  2. Invest in bar jiggers and tools like them to make the drink pouring as simple and easy as possible.
  3. Find ways to cut out the long lines at the bars by using more modern ordering technology.

3. Make It Easier for Bar-Goers to Order More Drinks

The Challenge: So we’ve figured out how to bring technology into your logistical mix and maximize the time that your staff spends on their customers.

You’ve got half of the operational equation under control. It’s the other half that’s often never discussed. That’s on how to get the CUSTOMERS to spend more time BUYING drinks.

A lot of that comes down to their preferences but there are a few key factors that you have control over.

  1. How long is the wait to get a drink?
  2. Do the customers have a menu of interesting drinks to pick from?
  3. How easy is it to order?

No one wants to fight the crowd during a busy night just to grab a beer. A lot of times people will cut their losses after waiting for 5-10 minutes and head to the dance floor.

You have to focus on how to make it simple for someone to pick a drink, order it, and have it in their hand as quickly as possible. The easier and quicker you can do that. The more opportunities the customer has to actually do the buying.

The Solution: Cut out all the hassle in the middle. Make it so that the menu, ordering, and the paying can all be done in one place.

Then, instead of customers fighting to get the bartender’s attention and dealing with all the hassle, they can pick their drink and go grab it at the bar when it’s ready.

No line. No screaming. More drinks.

It’s your job to find the right solution for your venue and your customers. Whether that’s an in-house solution, a drink ordering app like Noble, or something else!

What are the best ways you’ve found to cut costs?

Our team at Noble is constantly talking to bar and venue owners on how they’re working to build their businesses but we’re always looking to learn more.

What kinds of things have all of you done to build a more profitable business and get rid of the logistical deadweight?