Invest in staff to see success

As consumer knowledge improves training is absolutely vital

With customers increasingly inquisitive, it pays to have knowledgeable staff on board

FROM pubs and bars to hotels and restaurants, no licensed business can reach its full potential without talented staff on the team. And with post-Brexit migration issues still to be ironed out, coupled with record low unemployment, it’s arguably never been more important to hold on to and invest in good quality staff.

That was the general consensus among training providers, who told SLTN a comprehensive staff training programme can be advantageous – in more ways than one.

Michael Soderquest, lessee capability manager at Star Pubs & Bars, reckons many people working in today’s on-trade have a desire to push their careers forward.

“Good people want to be developed, they want to learn and take more responsibility and they want to be creative,” said Soderquest.

“Not training people frustrates all these ambitions.”

Training and developing people also increases staff retention, according to Soderquest, who said: “This, in turn, keeps staff knowledge within the business, which improves standards and profitability as well as reducing management time spent recruiting.”

He added that, in the wake of Brexit uncertainty, which could see the number of European hospitality workers decrease and competition for “good staff” rise, employee retention “must be a priority”.

Echoing this view, Jamie Shields, head of drinks education at training firm Solid Liquids, said with “the trend of the informed consumer”, the trade “more than ever needs to ensure staff are as knowledgeable and skilled as possible”.

Good people want to be developed, they want to learn and they want to take on more responsibility.

He explained that as expectations start to rise among consumers, staff “must have the ability, enthusiasm, and motivation to meet these expectations, which can only come through continuous training”.

Joanne Worrall, director of Twist Training, agreed, stating “it is no longer an option to not invest in your team”.

“Your staff are your ethos, image, and the face of your business,” she said.

“How much you invest will depend on budget but it needn’t be expensive or time consuming, and a great training plan – where staff feel valued – can, in the long-term, reduce costs and increase business.”

Every business must cover the basics to remain compliant with licensing law, however, said Jane Wilson of Alcohol Focus Scotland, who reminded operators that licensing training is mandatory for all staff who serve or sell alcohol – and personal licence holders must undertake refresher training every five years.

“Completing this training should ensure that staff have sufficient knowledge of and are compliant with licensing legislation,” said Wilson.

Beyond legalities, Shields of Solid Liquids reckons the right training programme “must go beyond the typical brand-led training, which is often too narrow in scope, and cover not just product knowledge but customer service and practical skills”.

“A good training programme must be relevant, specific, regular, and challenging,” said Shields.

“We believe there are three core aspects of training: product knowledge, customer service, and practical skills.”

Shields explained that while many training initiatives help staff with particular issues, operators should be training their staff as to why certain processes are followed.

“Teaching ‘why’ gives staff not only the required outcome, but the skills necessary to adapt to different situations,” he said.