Training in the trade

Knowledge is power

Staff know-how can boost sales

PRODUCT knowledge is essential to sales success, say drinks firms.

Gayle Butler, head of Tennent’s Training Academy, told SLTN: “As consumer knowledge around drinks grows, so does their expectations and therefore it is becoming extremely important for bartenders and in fact all front of house staff to have a well-rounded knowledge of all drinks and brands.”

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Teddy Joseph, whisky specialist at Edrington-Beam Suntory UK, agreed that in 2019 “it’s more important than ever that bartenders have a well-rounded knowledge of the drinks on offer in their venue”.

He said: “First and foremost, bartenders should know the unique differences between different brands, allowing them to make a sound recommendation to guests.”

An important skill for bartenders to master is when to share knowledge, according to Fabiano Latham, brand ambassador for William Grant & Sons-owned vodka brand Reyka.

He said: “Being able to read body language is essential to find that balance between a professional, friendly and expert bartender and an over-eager space invader.”

Brands are on-hand to educate, stated Jen Draper of Franklin & Sons, who said the firm’s brand team offers “in-depth tasting and training sessions to support with pairing advice and menu curation”.

Rebecca Sides, London trade ambassador for Bacardi, said for bartenders, “the key pieces to take away from a training session are what makes a product different and how best to use it”.

“For practical skills, go to great bars and watch them work, figure out why they work that way and see if that can benefit you,” she added.


Kenny Blair, MD, Buzzworks Holdings

What is your company’s ethos regarding staff training?

Learning and development for all of our staff members is a top priority and Buzzworks is unique in offering emerging talent programmes across varying levels and job roles throughout the business.

Describe the firm’s training approach.

Over the past 12 months, Buzzworks has invested £130,000 in training staff at all levels.

There are several initiatives at Buzzworks, including Level Two Front of House Learning and Leadership Development programmes as well as a Management Accelerator Programme, which are all unique to the company. Each programme differs in length and anyone can apply, but all have a bespoke mix of classroom-based tasks, practical assignments, external training workshops and mentoring.

Does the business offer development opportunities? If so, what are they?

Yes, the Level Two Front of House training programme broadens employee skills and knowledge alongside their ‘coaching’ ability to train others; Buzzworks aims to have 550 coaches in the business by 2020.

The Management Accelerator Programme (MAP) aims to develop team leaders into strong, capable managers, and is also available to chefs looking to move up to sous or head chef. MAP has been incredibly successful in developing effective managers within the business, and many have gone on to become general managers and head chefs.

Additionally, in 2017 Buzzworks launched a new leadership programme, which is open exclusively to senior members of staff. This includes a combination of sessions for leadership skills development, enhancing financial knowledge and awareness plus service excellence seminars.

Why is training such a big focus for the business?

At Buzzworks we believe that learning and development is integral to attracting and retaining our talent. Training is crucial to allow staff to have the confidence to deliver an exceptional experience each and every time. Our philosophy is simple: if we look after our staff then they will look after our customers. And our core aim is to make people feel great through hospitality.

What’s your top training tip?

Provide career paths for all levels of staff and make sure your development programmes are bespoke to your business. Monitor and evaluate the effectiveness of your development programme to ensure they are fit for purpose and the best in class.


Lorraine McLaren, training manager, Manorview Hotels & Leisure Group

What is the company’s ethos regarding staff training?

We want all of our team to be the best they can be and to reach their full potential.

Describe the firm’s training approach.

We offer SVQ qualifications and we identify career pathways for our staff.

We offer Flow training – and all general managers within our venues are tasked with ensuring all their teams complete their Flow training. We participate in and support events such as Scottish Apprenticeship Week and encourage our young apprentices to take part. We have also developed a dedicated approach, called The Manorview Way.

This encompasses our mission and values and it is a vital part of our operation, as it underpins everything we do. The Manorview Way forms part of a series of workshops which the whole workforce participate in. This reinforces a consistency across the group and high standards of service for our customers, together with active teams who are willing to go the extra mile.

Additionally, our teams receive continuous training on all bar, cocktails and food service.

Does the business offer development opportunities? If so, what are they?

Yes, we actively identify development opportunities for staff. For example, someone starting as part of the waiting team, who shows potential and an interest in developing their career, can progress through coaching, development and training to become a duty manager or front of house manager. We like to develop our team so that they can progress within the company.

Why is training such a big focus for the business?

In 2018 we underwent a culture change, which led to the development of The Manorview Way. This places our team at the forefront of what we do. A part of this was recognising the needs of our people. We place great value on what they do and recognise their worth. We also want people to view hospitality as a career choice, we want to encourage the right people to join us, and we want to retain those people. A way of doing this is to create career pathways, opportunities and a future at Manorview.

To what degree is the success of the business down to its staff?

It’s our people who make us successful; a happy team means happy customers.

What’s your top training tip?

Provide encouragement, support and good role models.