20 Things I Learned Tending Bar

Real Estate Agent with Hollish Hill Group, JPAR Stellar Living

When I was a bartender, I learned a lot of things about people, life, psychology, music, men, drunks, breaking up fights, mixing drinks and community. My ten years as a bartender at Mr. Eagan's in DC's Dupont Circle neighborhood really paid off because it has helped me in real estate. Here are just a few of the things I learned:


  1. Greet everyone with a smile. 
  2. Give your clients what they want, if you can.
  3. Never date a customer or client.
  4. Always get paid in full. black and white bar scene
  5. Some people will never trust you and there are some you shouldn't trust. 
  6. You don't have to serve anyone you don't want to serve. 
  7. Set boundaries.
  8. Be clear in what you say and do. 
  9. Never get drunk with your customers or clients. 
  10. It's good to be single.  (real estate can be hard on a relationship and family)
  11. Listening is very important.
  12. Tell people what you really think. 
  13. If someone is late or doesn't show up, check on them. 
  14. Know when to buy a client a drink. 
  15. Stay up on the latest trends. 
  16. Negotiating with drunks is harder than negotiating with agents/buyers/sellers. 
  17. It's good to be a regular.
  18. Your boss knows a lot that you can learn if you want to do so. 
  19. Treat your customers' and clients' friends as well as you treat them. 
  20. Always say thank you.


I'm sure there are dozens more. If you were a bartender, please add to the list in the comments below. 


If you are looking to buy or sell a home in the DC metropolitan area, give me a call to get started

Posted by


Dana Hollish Hill
REALTOR * Broker * Coach 
JPAR Stellar Living
800 S Frederick Ave, Suite 200, Gaithersburg, MD 20877
office 301.944.9070  
cell  202.271.5301
web danahill.jpar.com

Comments (53)

Roy Kelley
Retired - Gaithersburg, MD

This is an excellent skill set for any service provider. 

Some of those cocktail recipes will make good blog content.

May 10, 2015 06:10 AM
Dana Hollish Hill
Hollish Hill Group, JPAR Stellar Living - Bethesda, MD
REALTOR * Broker * Coach

John - I know that when I was younger, I could have learned a lot more if I had respected the experience of my bosses and co-workers more. Some of my jobs were competitive in nature and it didn't really foster a mentoring environment. 

Troy -  I try to do just that. Some things come eaiser than others. 

Annette - I'm glad you made it to #18. That is something that I definitely learn over and over again. 

Rob - I think so many parents are focused on getting their kids into internships that they forget how important it is to start at the bottom and learn what it means to rely on tips. 


May 12, 2015 12:05 AM
Dana Hollish Hill
Hollish Hill Group, JPAR Stellar Living - Bethesda, MD
REALTOR * Broker * Coach

Lou - I sure did. It's amazing what serving others can teach us. 

Paul - I didn't know that. I love the show "Inside the Actors Studio" because you get to see how successful people got where they are. I wish they had a show like that for a variety of careers. 

Karen - When I waited tables, I had to wear orthopedic shoes which aI thought were hideous. Each night when I got home and took them off, I could barely walk. I had whole outfits in the trunk of my car. 

Michele - That's a good one. Multitasking is another good one. Smiling through it all is a real skill. 

May 12, 2015 05:39 AM
Dana Hollish Hill
Hollish Hill Group, JPAR Stellar Living - Bethesda, MD
REALTOR * Broker * Coach

Alan - That's funny. I bet I could too. Number 1 would be: Don't forget to tip your bartender.

Chris Ann -  Thanks for your comment and for featuring this post in your group. I really appreciate it. 

Joe - That is a good change. I am married with kids and it was a lot easier to be responsive to clients when I was married without kids. And tips are better when you are single. 

Donna - Yes. waitressing teaches you quite a lot as well. I hope both of my daughters get a good waitress education before they go out into the world. 

May 12, 2015 07:10 AM
Bob "RealMan" Timm
Ward County Notary Services - Minot, ND
Owner of Ward Co Notary Services retired RE Broker

Dana Hollish Hill how about never offering to drive after buying a client more than one drink?

May 12, 2015 07:22 AM
Sharon Tara
Sharon Tara Transformations - Portsmouth, NH
Retired New Hampshire Home Stager

I'm not a bartender, and never have been, but my daughter is and it's a great profession. She knows the business and has made it a very profitable one, allowing her to travel all over the world.

May 13, 2015 05:59 AM
Wayne Martin
Wayne M Martin - Chicago, IL
Real Estate Broker - Retired

Dana, you learned your lessons well! Solid base to enter real estate and excel! Enjoy your day!

Jul 07, 2015 08:10 PM
Michael Jacobs
Pasadena, CA
Los Angeles Pasadena 818.516.4393

Hi Dana -- I cam here via the reblog by Roy Kelley --- very clever idea and definitely from the heart.    

Jul 07, 2015 08:15 PM
Sheila Anderson
Referral Group Incorporated - East Brunswick, NJ
The Real Estate Whisperer Who Listens 732-715-1133

Good morning Dana. This is great! Basically the listening is my favorite.

Jul 07, 2015 08:25 PM
Maria Gilda Racelis
Home Buyers Realty, LLC-Manchester, Bolton. Vernon,Ellington - Manchester, CT
Home Ownership is w/in Reach. We Make it Happen!

Good Morning Dana: Stopping by from Roy Kelley 's page. It is great that he re-blogged. Otherwise, I would have missed this fabulous list of real-life practical advice.

Great job.

Jul 07, 2015 09:24 PM
Dorie Dillard Austin TX
Coldwell Banker Realty ~ 512.750.6899 - Austin, TX
NW Austin ~ Canyon Creek and Spicewood/Balcones

Good morning Dana Hollish Hill,

What a delightful list that is full of good tips. I caught your post from Roy Kelley re-blog and subscribed to you!

Jul 07, 2015 11:12 PM
Tai-An Lugo
Keller Williams Realty Centre - Frederick, MD
Considered Done!!!

Good Afternoon Dana Hollish!!!

I came accross this blog from Roy Kelley re-blog and I thought was a great blog!!! Just want it to said thanks for sharing those tips with us!


Jul 08, 2015 07:16 AM
Rebecca Gaujot, Realtor®
Lewisburg, WV
Lewisburg WV, the go to agent for all real estate

Excellent list and analogy for real estate or almost any job.

Jul 08, 2015 11:51 AM
Fred Griffin Florida Real Estate
Fred Griffin Real Estate - Tallahassee, FL
Licensed Florida Real Estate Broker

Thanks to Roy Kelley for reposting this!  I tended bar when I was in college...  these tips are spot-on.

Jul 08, 2015 11:54 AM
Praful Thakkar
LAER Realty Partners - Andover, MA
Andover, MA: Andover Luxury Homes For Sale

Thanks a lot for good tips that begins with a smile and ends with a Thank You!

So many things we should embrace in our life Dana Hollish Hill .

Jul 08, 2015 12:49 PM
Dana Hollish Hill
Hollish Hill Group, JPAR Stellar Living - Bethesda, MD
REALTOR * Broker * Coach

Praful Thakkar - "Start with a smile and end with a thank you" is a message I've been giving all the girl scouts in my daughters' troops each year as they prepare for the annual cookie booth. It's always good advice. 

Sep 12, 2016 12:54 AM
Anna "Banana" Kruchten
HomeSmart Real Estate - Phoenix, AZ

Dana of course I had to go back and read your 20 tips!  I never was a bartender but I did waitress in college which taught me a lot of these lessons. Everyone needs to learn these tips to prepare for being in real estate!

Aug 31, 2023 08:44 PM
Anna "Banana" Kruchten

Let's ask them!  Good idea for another teaching moment Dana!  Perhaps  you could host a contest?  How about that Debe Maxwell, CRS !

Aug 31, 2023 10:24 PM
Dana Hollish Hill


You are so right. I wonder if men in the service industry see it the same way as women do.

Aug 31, 2023 08:54 PM
Debe Maxwell, CRS

I love that, Anna "Banana" Kruchten! What do you say, Dana Hollish Hill?!

Sep 01, 2023 06:47 AM
Dana Hollish Hill

Debe and Anna -

Wow! I'd love to!

Sep 01, 2023 07:15 AM
Michael Jacobs
Pasadena, CA
Los Angeles Pasadena 818.516.4393

Hello Dana - your AR August 2023 challenge entry sent me back to this post.  I see that I read/commented then and those thoughts renain.  Quite clever.  And so true.  

Sep 01, 2023 03:18 AM
Carol Williams
Although I'm retired, I love sharing my knowledge and learning from other real estate industry professionals. - Wenatchee, WA
Retired Agent / Broker / Prop. Mgr, Wenatchee, WA

Hi Dana,
It struck me while reading this post that you could write a blog post about each of your 20 points. I'm sure they all have a story or stories.

Sep 01, 2023 06:28 AM
Dana Hollish Hill

Carol - 

I was thinking the same thing. Each one is short and sweet, but the stories behind each of the lessons are missing. Time to expand for sure. 

Sep 01, 2023 06:41 AM
Georgie Hunter R(S) 58089
Hawai'i Life Real Estate Brokers - Haiku, HI
Maui Real Estate sales and lifestyle info

Having been a waitress in a previous life, I get it.  I sometimes feel like selling real estate is like being a waitress at the banquet of homes for sale.

Sep 09, 2023 07:03 PM