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Royal Oak South Brent, Devon When Andrew and Carol Doree took over the freehold of the Royal Oak days before Christmas four years ago, the members of...

Royal Oak

South Brent, Devon

When Andrew and Carol Doree took over the freehold of the Royal Oak days before Christmas four years ago, the members of staff didn't even know their new owners.

It says much about the couple's skills that of the original employees, only three no longer work at the pub.

"This is simply because they have moved out of the area," says Andrew, pictured rear with Carol. "I think the thing that makes a really good pub is the staff. We can't be here all day, so it is important to get and retain the right staff by encouraging them to get NVQs (National Vocational Qualifications) and take courses. Anyone can be taught to serve or mix drinks, but it is the interpersonal skills - talking to customers and making them feel welcome - that are much more important. "

No jobsworth here

Carol comments: "Nobody here wears a 'jobsworth' hat. They all offer to help and are encouraged to use their own initiative."

The team spirit engendered at the Royal Oak becomes apparent when Andrew recalls the occasion when a staff member was head-hunted and offered twice the money by a rival outlet. "She told us she would stay here because the standards weren't the same at the other place," says Andrew.

Every day's a great day

Bearing the brunt of responsibility for running the bar and overseeing training is Kate McGowan (centre foreground).

Kate remarks: "It's not about numbers coming through the door - it's about making people feel special. Everyone here is 100% dedicated to their job. They make every day great and will join in with all the pub events, such as dressing up for St George's Day or going naked for a charity calendar."

Andrew quickly adds that the Royal Oak version is not an in-your-face "Calendar Girls" type of publication; instead, it has been "tastefully done".

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