Well-trained staff and good customer service key to making the most of an event-laden 2014
A CALENDAR packed with major sporting and cultural events is expected to bring new faces into Scotland’s pubs and restaurants this year, with many experiencing Scottish hospitality for the first time.
And if operators want to make the most of Scotland’s spot on the world stage – and leave customers smiling – then well-trained staff are crucial, according to firms contacted by SLTN.
Stella Callaghan, project manager at Glasgow Service With Style, said this summer represents a “massive opportunity” for hospitality businesses, provided staff training is up to scratch.
“What will really make 2014 a success for hospitality businesses will be customer interaction with staff,” said Callaghan.
“If that’s positive, it can lead to happy customers, more sales, repeat visits and recommendations.”
Edinburgh-based Flow Hospitality Training worked in partnership with Glasgow Tourism Service Inititiative (GTSI) to develop an online training module, designed specifically to help hospitality businesses prepare for the Commonwealth Games.
[pullquote_right]Training can lead to improved efficiency, staff retention, service and sales.[/pullquote_right]Elly Johnston, UK sales manager at Flow, said investment in training can create “improved efficiency of staff, improved staff retention and improved service, which leads to increased sales”.
Forward planning and ensuring you have the right bodies behind the bar is key, according to Peter Fulton, operations director at ABV Training.
“Good operators will plan ahead,” said Fulton, adding that they will “spend time delivering, not just the training they have to by law, but also plan time to explain the values and objectives of their business”.
Fulton acknowledged that going beyond mandatory staff training will incur a cost, but said this can be off-set in the long run.
“Training people properly does take time and is an investment, so there always has to be a sales slant threaded through what you do,” he said.
“Simple and responsible sales techniques can always be included in even the most legislative-based training. This quickly repays the investment and can lead to further benefits for all.”
Mike Wroe, director of Highfield Awarding Body for Compliance (HABC), agreed that operators can reap the rewards of investing in additional training.
“Further training helps improve customer service, knowledge and conflict management skills, all of which are key in the hospitality industry in making a business a safe and pleasant environment that customers will want to come back to,” he said.
How staff respond to training at the outset may be affected by what their prospects look like further down the line, according to Fulton at ABV Training, who said that publicans drafting in temporary staff may want to consider incentives to keep newcomers motivated.
“If you treat people as temporary they will feel temporary, whereas if they have an opportunity to secure further reward or even employment they will work harder,” he said.
Paul Chase, director of CPL Training, agreed, saying that additional customer service training can have a positive impact on staff and customers alike.
“The main benefits of going beyond the minimum legal requirements are better trained staff who feel more valued when you invest in their training; happier customers who are more likely to return because of high levels of customer service; and a safer premises licence from better run, regulation-compliant premises,” he said.
While the big events could provide operators with a boost this year, it’s also important not to neglect the essentials, say firms.
Mike Wroe of Highfield reminded operators to meet their legal requirements.
“It is important that staff understand and abide by the licensing objectives and fully comprehend and implement age verification policies, for example Challenge 25, as there are repercussions for any servers and businesses caught selling alcohol to underage customers,” he said.
Wroe’s comments were echoed by Joanne Worrall of Twist Training, who also stressed the importance of legal compliance.
“Whatever the reason for taking on new staff it’s imperative to have a system in place for ensuring they go through the mandatory staff training before putting your licence at risk,” she said. “Some operators choose to recruit staff who are already qualified however care has to be taken to ensure the appropriate paperwork is available.”