Knowledge is the key to beer

Even the best product ranges can be let down by a lack of training

Training can help provide the perfect serve.
Training can help provide the perfect serve.

A FOCUS on staff training is essential if operators are to make the most of their beer range, according to the companies behind some of the country’s leading brands.

With such a wide range of products on the market, selecting the right beers for an outlet can be a challenge, but brewers have told SLTN that, while the range itself is important, even the most robust selection can be let down by a lack of staff knowledge.
And it’s not enough to have just a basic understanding of the products on the bar, said Chris Houlton, managing director for Greene King Brewing and Brands.
“Operators and their staff need to be as knowledgeable as possible about the brands they are selling and that means being able to engage with consumers on the key facts they may be interested in, including origin, ingredients and history,” said Houlton.
“That’s why our account managers are always on hand to provide this type of information so that operators feel as confident as possible when selling our range.”
Houlton added that, while craft and speciality beers can add value to an outlet, “that value has to go hand in hand with quality or consumers will choose to stay at home”.
In Glasgow, Tennent Caledonian’s Tennent’s Training Academy provides a range of courses for bar staff that include customer service and cellar management.
John Gilligan, managing director of Tennent Caledonian, said it is “crucial that bar staff have a good understanding of the products that they are serving”.
“We [continue to] invest in our very successful Tennent’s Training Academy, which has now trained thousands of people and is helping to build better standards across Scotland’s on-trade,” said Gilligan.
And while it is an initial expense, an investment in training can pay off in the long term, say brewers.
“It’s really important for operators to be knowledgeable about their drinks portfolio as it’s a great way to influence buying decisions and increase sales,” said John Gemmell of Heineken.
“Many consumers are receptive to recommendations and bar staff should have the confidence to engage with customers and speak with confidence about the portfolio they are offering to prompt purchase.”