Inspiring your bar team

A well led bar team will maximise your profits

Working behind a bar can be a lot of fun but you’re on your feet for most of your shift and thirsty customers can be a demanding bunch. Keeping your bar team on top of their game is therefore vital to your business’s long-term success.

Dan Marsh joined the Peach Pub Company as operations manager in February this year having worked for family brewer Young’s.

Peach has 13 sites, more than 300 staff and a target to grow to 22 pubs, and Marsh’s day-today job involves heading up much of the training at the group. Having experienced the company’s highly structured induction process firsthand he concludes the company’s success to date ‘is not luck’.

First though he has a warning: If you don’t get the right people to start with no amount of training or pep talks will transform them into that essential member of the team you hope they’ll become.

Marsh articulates these qualities as being ‘Peachy’ but for the rest of us it’s simply the truism that someone with a good attitude can be trained but those with a bad attitude keep it.

On the communication front every new starter goes through a structured induction introducing the company’s values, all backing up the Peach ethos of ‘our house is your place’.

Accessibility

Another Peach approach is accessibility and clear communication. Marsh says he spends at least a third of his time as operations manager talking to staff, and company founders Lee Cash and Hamish Stoddart are always accessible in the bars and often working behind them.

Understanding the customer experience also help staff perform better, so on joining they’re given Peach Pounds to spend in other group pubs to see it from the customer’s side.

“It’s really important to explain to new team members that they are selling an experience as much as they are selling a pint of Stella Artois,” says Marsh.

All jobs have a ‘purpose’ that outlines the role and skills required and feedback, usually over a coffee in the premises, on a regular basis is an effective way of keeping new members on track and addressing any issues they face (and allows succession planning if required).

“Ongoing training also plays its part, such as spirit days with the bar team, or wine tasting on a pub by pub basis,” says Marsh.

Be At One

Leigh Miller, co-founder of cocktail chain Be At One, believes inspiration comes through respect. The group, which opens its 10th bar in London’s Shoreditch this month, employs 90 people, all of who are hands-on in the business.

Management at Be At One work behind the bar and like the bartenders are all qualified (new starters undergo a nine-week induction and learn 200 cocktails before being allowed to serve on their own), so it’s very much a case of leading by example.

The teams are also rewarded on a financial performance basis, creating a real camaraderie and inspiring individuals to push harder and deliver ever more sales.

Miller believes communication can’t be overlooked either. “We have something we call the employee clock. It’s the theory that no matter what’s going on in their private lives as soon as they walk through the door for their shift they put on their cloak and focus exclusively on work, making sure they are on top of their game.”

This approach is possible because site managers come in early to sort administration and other tasks so that when the team arrive for work they can concentrate on them exclusively, getting them fired up for the session.

“As soon as we open we want our bartenders to be working at full speed,” says Miller.

Incentivise your team

The Capital Pub Company is the latest in the sector to introduce an incentive scheme for workers (management at the big players such as Mitchells & Butlers and JD Wetherspoon will typically be on performance based bonus schemes).

Capital’s new share incentive scheme allows employees with more than a year’s service at the London group to buy shares in the company in a tax efficient manner.

The pub company will match each purchase up to £1,000, with the cost of putting the new scheme, announced in May, in place met predominantly by the directors, who are forgoing a pay rise in the current financial year.

Key points to inspire a bar team

 

  • Recruit the right people to start
  • Communicate your goals and company culture
  • Instil respect from the top to bottom
  • Recognise achievement and incentivise
  • Provide a clear, career route
  • Undertake through training and provide feedback and support

 

Read more articles in this feature here.

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