Monday, 22 August 2011

What you can learn from the best pub in England

This weekend I went out to a fairly busy, fairly well respected Bar in Didsbury. As I stood tapping my fingers on the ever so tacky (and I mean sticky rather than stylistically compromised) glass strewn bar, waiting to catch the attention of the snooty staff, who were clearly engrossed in some vital and earth shattering conversation, a few poignant questions popped into my head.

Why do I feel like an irritation to the staff? Why am I about to give some hard earned cash to a bunch of people who couldn’t care less and would rather I left? Why do people not care about doing the best they can?

I remember working in a pub, which was the runner up in the Times best pub in England competition in 1991. It was not in an exceptional location, it produced standard pub grub (though of good quality), it had no theme, no gimmicks, no celebrity endorsement. Yet Thursday to Saturday nights it would be 10 deep at the bar, and morning coffee, lunch times and dinner were always packed out.

The place was quite simply a well oiled, well managed, customer focused machine. It was run by a tyrant (well 2 actually – husband and wife combo). They had exacting standards and they insisted they be met. The customer came first no matter what else you did. The bar was exceptionally clean – if there were no customers you were expected to clean, polish, tidy and rearrange whatever you could find. They only employed people who met their exacting standards – they created a desirable place to work – people actually wanted to work here (for £1.95 an hour no less!). They protected their good customers from bad customers – if you didn’t behave appropriately you didn’t get back in, no matter how much money you spent.

You were told how they wanted things done and if you didn’t do it in the right way you knew about it.They were not afraid to challenge, to push people, to demand more and more in order to be the best. And they treated everyone like this – it was harsh but fair.

You don’t always appreciate this at the age of 19 but you certainly learn from it.

This is where I learned to be the best beer pourer, hostess and salesperson, and importantly learnt the value of knowing what you do best and caring enough to ensure you deliver it consistently and exceptionally well, every time.

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