Dennis Forsyth, owner of Cheers Cafe, Bar & Tavern in Fraserburgh, told SLTN he thinks the current two hours’ of staff training required by the licensing Act is not enough to ensure the highest level of service from members of staff.
And he reckons while multiple operators can be switched on to the benefits of staff training, many independents are not reaping the rewards.
“My honest opinion is that I think the independent operators are still in the dark ages,” said Dennis.
“They are by all means compliant by doing their two hours’ training and having a few PLHs on board, but they do the bare minimum [on training].”
Dennis claims to have spent between £10,000 and £12,000 on staff training in the course of 2012 in order to get his team into award-winning shape. Last month the investment paid off, when Cheers won a top training award from BII Scotland.
Staff at the venue are encouraged to undertake a number of different e-learning modules from training providers that include CPL and Flow Hospitality, as well as Cask Marque.
Topics range from cellar management and health and safety to preventing underage sales and drug awareness.
“What I like about the e-learning programme is that for a business such as mine, which is 45 miles from Aberdeen, which is the closest place to us, to get serious training, it’s a very cost-effective way to do it,” Dennis explained. “And the programmes are really good.”
The outlet’s main meeting room doubles as a training facility, with a computer and TV screens for e-learning and DVD training courses.
Dennis said he first took a keen interest in staff training after an assessment for the Best Bar None scheme, which recognises responsible operators.
“When BBN come and do the audit, they give you a lot of pointers,” he said.
“Although they said we did exceptionally well there were a few things they said we were weak in, and one of them was disability awareness. When I started looking into it I realised we could have upped the ante on a few other things as well.”
A £10,000 or £12,000 investment may be out of the question for smaller operators, of course, but Dennis pointed to schemes such as ILA (Individual Learning Account) grants – which can provide funding of up to £200 – as a way to pay for staff training.
“You can incentivise your staff; give them more money or more responsibility,” he said. “None of this is very costly if you do it at a basic level. It doesn’t have to be something that will cost a fortune, but it will certainly keep you compliant and it will get you a lot more respect from the licensing boards and LSOs.”
Image – Staff training is a top priority at Cheers in Fraserburgh