Go beyond the basics

Staff training remains integral to success

FROM customer service to catering equipment, liquor to licensing laws, staff training is essential to many aspects of running a licensed trade business.

And staff that are well trained in every aspect of their job can bring real benefits to an outlet, as well as avoiding costly compliance issues, say training firms.

Robin Morton of Robin Morton Licensing stressed the importance of adhering to Scotland’s stringent alcohol laws.

“As far as mandatory training is concerned, they need to know the 16 bullet points on which serving staff have to undergo a two-hour mandatory training session,” he explained.

Louise Ramsay of DG Training said that beyond the mandatory two-hour training, many premises managers are choosing to put several staff members through the personal licence holder (PLH) course.

In addition to putting forward a strong case for ‘due diligence’ if an operator was to end up in court, having multiple PLH members of staff allows more flexibility when it comes to holidays – and gives staff a “sense of responsibility” which means they’re more likely to “take pride in their work”, according to Ramsay.

A spokeswoman for Alcohol Focus Scotland, the organisation behind training provider ServeWise, said the personal licence holder training course “provides attendees with a clear understanding of the Licensing (Scotland) Act 2005 and the responsibilities of the personal licence holder”.

“This interactive course incorporates pre-course reading and covers a range of topics specified by the Scottish Government including an introduction to licensing, responsible operation of licensed premises, and the effect of irresponsible operation on society and health,” she said.

While mandatory training should always be prioritised, training in customer service and product knowledge can help staff be more effective in their roles.

Jamie Shields, head of drinks education at Solid Liquids, explained that a staff member’s ability to perform their job to the best of their potential “is directly related to the amount of knowledge” available to them.

“Covering topics such as customer service, complaints handling, specific skills such as cocktail making, or product knowledge, will have a profound effect in ensuring each member of staff is confident in taking ownership of their role,” he said.

And training in these fields can also go a long way to improving a customer’s perception of an outlet, said Tom Clarkson of wholesaler Inverarity Morton.

He said that, as the front line to the consumer, staff “are in the strongest position to influence spend and up-spend”.

Rob Harris of Coca-Cola European Partners agreed.

The soft drinks firm, which launched its free training programme for bar staff earlier this year, focuses on a three-step programme for growing soft drinks sales: the ‘perfect choice’, ensuring there is a wealth of drinks to choose from; the ‘perfect serve’, ensuring drinks are offered in the correct glassware with an appropriate level of ice; and the ‘perfect time’, knowing when to offer a second drink.

Ultimately, a well-rounded training programme will not only help operators retain staff, it will attract new ones, according to Andrea Macaulay of the City of Glasgow College.

She said: “As customer expectations increase, well trained staff create a competitive advantage.

“Quality training also enhances recruitment as staff are more likely to be attracted to organisations which train and develop them; it’s a win-win situation.”