New drink drive limit might be hitting trade, but cutting corners could prove damaging
THE new Scottish drink drive limit has already had a well-publicised impact on the trade, and once again operators face the prospect of customers cutting down on trips to the pub.
But licensees who skimp on cellar management to cut costs could end up doing themselves more harm than good.
Cellar management specialists say cutting corners in the cellar could have a knock-on effect at the till.
“There is no point in cutting costs if it also impacts profits, and in this day and age nothing is going to lose you customers quicker than poor quality and bad service,” said Richard Cooper of Clear Brew Glasgow North.
“Therefore, good cellar management practices and staff training should always be a priority.”
And yet Steve Lakin, key account manager at Innserve, said many Scottish firms have been cutting corners in recent years as they struggle to maintain margins.
“Throughputs have been reduced, cleaning regimes are slipping, and beer is being kept on sale longer,” said Lakin.
“The reality is there are fewer customers drinking less, but quality is now more important than ever before.
“Lowering your quality standards is not the way to compete. Cellar management is linked to profitability. Good management eliminates waste, reduces maintenance costs and ensures drinks are served at their best, to keep [consumers] coming back for more.”
Staff training is paramount, according to Lakin.
He said factors such as temperature control, stock rotation and hygiene systems can all affect how beer tastes, and so training staff to be able to attend to them can make a huge difference in the cellar.
“By ensuring these three things are under control, it can help ensure great beer is served,” said Lakin.
The importance of staff training has not been lost on pub company Star Pubs & Bars, which has made cellar management a major focus in recent years. The company’s lessees are offered a range of training courses that cover product storage, dispense and serve.
“We believe offering the perfect pint is so important that we have made cider and beer quality the focus of our retail standards audits, which we run in all our Scottish pubs twice a year to help lessees get independent feedback on their pubs,” said Chris Jowsey, trading director at Star Pubs & Bars.
“We put all our independent mystery shoppers on our Pint Perfection training course – the same course offered to lessees.”
Delivering the perfect pint is so important, said Jowsey, because pub customers “have a choice of where they spend their disposable income and are becoming more discerning”.
“They are not prepared to put up with shoddy products or service and nor should they be,” he said.
Product quality is not the only reason to focus on cellar management, however.
Carl Goode, product and marketing manager at BOC Sureserve, said taking care of the cellar is also vital from a safety perspective.
“For the safety of all concerned, staff training is essential,” said Goode.
“Ensure that staff who change gas cylinders are trained in safe storage and handling.
“The ability to spot telltale signs of gas leakage (such as condensation build-up on a cylinder, or loss of pressure on regulators when the cylinder is turned off) will help to ensure a safe environment.”