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A tale of two bar workers

By PJ STEVENS Published 8th Apr 2014
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Companies spend a lot of money setting expectations about what you should expect if you choose to give them your custom. It is one of the key aims of advertising. In the hospitality sector this is an important part of marketing; 'if you come to one of our establishments this is how you will feel', and yet it is the person behind the bar, or more often the person leading the team in the venue, who will be responsible for delivering that expectation.

Wages in the hospitality industry are notoriously low, yet some people manage to do their work with an air of cheerfulness and a desire to please their customers.

In my line of work I often have to book venues for clients and it's fairly common for me to speak with people who are under pressure when I call. One event sticks in my mind as an example of two conflicting approaches to venue marketing.

I had a group of 120 people finishing an event in London on a Wednesday. The manager of the first venue that I called was under pressure and I could hear the noise of a busy bar in the background. The manager was very efficient, told me the venue was always busy and advised that there would be a minimum spend of £500 that I would have to agree to if I wanted a private area.

In the background of my second call was an equally noisy bar. The manager was friendly and seemed excited about the prospect of having 120 people in on a Wednesday, a day when they weren't usually so busy as other nights. In fact, he had an area of the bar downstairs which would usually be closed off on an early weekday; we could have that to ourselves. They also had a £500 minimum spend, but with 120 people that would easily be absorbed so there was no need to sign up to any commitment.

The total bill for the event was over £1,000. On the evening the manager took a photo of the event and sent it to his own managers in his chain of venues because 120 in on a Wednesday was great business.

The event was a success and booked again the following year. Unfortunately the manager I had dealt with was not in charge by then. He had been promoted.

A tale of two bar workers, two approaches, two lives. Having bright, engaged, self motivated employees should be the objective of every business. What is the point in spending money creating an expectation that your staff do not feel like delivering at the crucial moment?

This is one of the critical issues in engagement. Employees must be trained, coached and motivated by their own managers. The end result is better for everyone involved.


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