IT’S a challenging time for the licensed trade. As the industry deals with a series of issues, from business rates to Brexit, it would be easy to cut spending by skipping on what may seem preventable costs.
Staff training might be considered one such area by some operators, but experts from across the trade have warned that licensees cut back on training at their peril.
Those in the know say there is a clear correlation between well-trained staff and the success of a business, highlighting a number of factors that reinforce the importance of staff training, including more discerning consumers that expect extensive staff knowledge and the importance of having senior staff who are able to show new-starts the ropes.
Kenny Blair, managing director of Buzzworks Holdings, which employs more than 400 people across the west of Scotland, espoused the belief that “if you invest in your staff they invest in you”. “Well-trained staff not only provide customers with an enhanced experience which makes them want to return time and time again, they tend also to be more engaged, loyal and committed to the core values and success of your business,” he said.
“By providing first class training to our staff, our business has more stability overall. We benefit from customers returning, as they know they will receive a great experience from great staff.”
Andrew Scott of Victus Hospitality Consultancy agreed that helping personnel reach their maximum potential in their individual roles is key and that money spent on training will pay dividends.
“As the face of your company they speak to, inform and entertain your clientele, so they need to be a true reflection of you, your company and your standards,” said Scott.
“Investing in external training, however, can offer great return on investment. Excellent service will lead to more word of mouth custom and more positive online reviews.”
In recent years a number of drinks firms have suggested that one of the biggest challenges facing operators is the increasing expectations and knowledge of consumers, who expect staff to have product knowledge to match or better their own.
Blair at Buzzworks said there is a “direct link” between investing in product knowledge training and a higher spend per head.
“This helps us to drive our sales through service,” he said. “Product knowledge will always rank highly in our business, as we want all of our staff to have the confidence to enhance the experience of our customers.”
The importance of product knowledge was underlined by Amy Burgess at Coca-Cola European Partners, which provides a free online training programme for bar staff.
“Soft drinks are playing an increasingly important role for licensees,” she said.
“The course focuses on the ‘perfect serve’, which looks at how bar staff can enhance the presentation of drinks.
“Licensees should consider making the most of this opportunity by investing time in training their staff in order to achieve the best possible serving for their soft drinks range, and to increase the likelihood of their customers ordering a second drink.”