‘We are taking the time to make sure we open better than we closed’

By Nikkie Thatcher

- Last updated on GMT

Virtual event: BrewDog’s James Watt (left) and The Inn Collection Group’s Gary Turner informed delegates about their staff engagement at the digital MA500
Virtual event: BrewDog’s James Watt (left) and The Inn Collection Group’s Gary Turner informed delegates about their staff engagement at the digital MA500

Related tags: Coronavirus

The lockdown has presented an opportunity for operators to re-evaluate their business and be in a strong position for reopening, one multiple operator has said.

The Inn Collection Group commercial and compliance manager Gary Turner said the business is keeping staff engaged with a plethora of different ways amid the lockdown.

Turner and BrewDog co-founder James Watt outlined how they are keeping in touch with staff amid the pandemic and the reaction this has sparked from teams at the first digital MA500 conference, which took place this month (Thursday 14 May).

BrewDog’s Watt and Martin Dickie, co-founders of the giant Scottish brewer and pub operator, announced they were sacrificing their salary for 2020 in a bid to protect jobs at the business amid the pandemic. Chief operating officer David McDowall also volunteered to take a 50% pay cut.

Following this, the business revealed its initial approach to reopening its bars, subject to official guidance from the Government.

The 10-step plan includes contactless ordering via its order to table Hop Drop app, staff wearing face masks and gloves at all times, easily accessible sanitiser stations for all, and clearly visible social distancing signage and guidelines.

People business

It also stated its proposals encompass amended furniture layouts to create appropriate space, staff monitoring capacity continually, cashless payment only via its app or card payment, single-use menus in use, physical table screens available on request and surface cleaning every 15 minutes.

Watt said: “We are a business built on people, people are at the core of everything we do and this is a challenging time to be an employer but it is in challenging times you get to see what people are made of.

“This is a chance for us to step up to the plate and live our values as a company, which is what we have been trying to do.”

The Inn Collection Group has kept communication open to all members of staff with twice daily conference calls among the senior team and regular updates from managing director Sean Donkin.

Turner said: “The senior management team have two conference calls a day where we continue to plan and proactive against the daily Government updates.

“Each head of department and ops managers all speak to their teams on a regular basis. Regular contact, updates and good communication has been key throughout all this.

“One of the most effective things we have found is to put a survey out and asked the team how they are feeling and to give us feedback on what they want to know and how we can do things better. We are taking the time to make sure we open better than we closed.”

Team communication

The group has also made online training courses available, across three different platforms, which include topics such as mental health and wellbeing, cellar training and food safety.

The business is sending a weekly newsletter from a member of the senior management team updating them on the business but also on their own experiences, the weather and asking how other staff members are.

It is also keeping in touch with teams via a group social media page, encouraging staff to share their hobbies and keeping spirits up amid the lockdown.

You can access the MA500 webcast by clicking https://onlinexperiences.com/Launch/Studio/ESH=43F25AC4-5CB0-4B04-A8CD-A898DCA7ADEA

Read the latest digital edition of The Morning Advertiser​ – for free – by clicking here​.

Related topics: MA500 Business Club

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