Training & Recruitment: team building

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Training is not just an add-on to your pub business, like a conservatory or a deep-fat fryer. Training is a whole culture that spreads throughout the...

Training is not just an add-on to your pub business, like a conservatory or a deep-fat fryer. Training is a whole culture that spreads throughout the way a pub is run.

At least that's the philosophy at the Three Wheatsheaves at Lenton, Nottinghamshire. The ordinary community local was shot into the realms of the extraordinary when it won the title of Most Improved Pub in the Scottish & Newcastle Pub Enterprises Warm Welcome Awards 2006 - and the difference, of course, was made by the people running it.

Toni and Tony Millership manage the Wheatsheaves for East Midlands pubco Pub People, which leases the site from S&NPE. They only took over last September, but made a sharp impact on a pub Toni describes as having "no personality" when they got there. Now it is infused with the personalities of a whole team of committed and enthusiastic staff, all recruited and trained from scratch by the managers.

The couple joined Pub People four years ago to run the Arnold Arms at Barby, Northamptonshire. Toni had previously worked for Whitbread in the Beefeater pub-restaurant chain and Tony for Spirit Group, most recently at the Abington Park Hotel in Northampton.

That's a strong managed house background in companies well known for the structured development they offer their people. Now Toni and Tony have been given their head to use their experience to build a team of winners at the Wheatsheaves.

"We have a vision for the pub and Pub People has allowed us to get on with it," says Toni. "We put the whole team in place and we are doing a lot of training, NVQs mainly."

Recruits were a mixture of locals and students, people who, says Toni, "can relate to the people on the other side of the bar".

Offering training and qualifications in the job adverts helped to raise the quality of applicants. "You get a different type of jobseeker when you mention that," Toni says. "They are people who are asking to be developed."

And they certainly get it. Toni describes the training at the Wheatsheaves as "perpetual", with each member of staff being given a programme of support and courses tailored to their needs.

She doesn't agree that students aren't worth training seriously. "If you can recruit them in their first year and take their development seriously, you've got them for the whole three years," she says. "If you train them you get commitment."

Starting afresh

Taking over the Lindisfarne Inn was a daunting prospect for Jim Loughran and Linda Ramage. In transforming the run-down pub into a destination venue and attaching a 21-bedroom hotel, they had to recruit more than 20 staff from the local area.

But with a few weeks to go before the pub reopens all the people are in place - apart from the head chef, always the most difficult position to fill.

The couple moved into the pub last September, then closed it in October for the £2m refurbishment. Jim hopes the pub, formerly known as the Plough Hotel, will become "the preferred destination of those who plan to visit, cycle or walk around this beautiful and historic part of Northumberland".

Jim attracted applicants with ads in the local paper and a banner outside, also getting a good response from the Jobcentre, a recruitment source he says licensees often neglect.

A press release was also sent out to local media to drum up interest in the reopening.

"It's a case of making sure as many people know about it as possible, and offering exciting career opportunities rather than just a job," he says.

Related topics Training

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