Recruit based on passion and personality over everything else

By Rebecca Weller

- Last updated on GMT

Recruit based on passion and personality, everything else can be taught, says bar manager of Three Little Words in Manchester,  Abbie Dunthie (pictured)
Recruit based on passion and personality, everything else can be taught, says bar manager of Three Little Words in Manchester, Abbie Dunthie (pictured)

Related tags Training Recruitment Top 50 Cocktail Bars

Personality and a love of hospitality are the most important factors when recruiting new staff, according to the manager of award-winning cocktail bar, Three Little Words in Manchester.

Manager Abbie Dunthie explained everything apart from a love for the industry can be taught and the eclectic team at Three Little Words was recruited based on this belief alongside the bars three core principles: quality, honesty, and creativity.

She said: “We recruited based on personality and passion for drinks, because really, that’s what's going to come through, we feel like we can teach everything else, but if you've got a really innate love for drinks, and hospitality, then everything else can be taught.”

However, Duthie, who has around 20 years’ experience in hospitality and has previously worked with the likes of Jamie Oliver, continued recruiting post-pandemic was much more of a challenge, not least because of staff shortages, but because the long hours demanded by the sector can make people think twice.

Though Dunthie explained it is important as employers to make a career in hospitality attractive, especially post-pandemic, and by encouraging creativity, offering variety, and shaking things up a bit, bars can avoid a high turnover in staff.

She added: “A lot of people fell out of love with hospitality during the pandemic; people got their lives’ back a little bit.

“We realised quite quickly if we wanted to build a great team, post pandemic, we'd have to offer a great role. So, when we reopened, we [decided] we’d have one core team that does everything.

“Pre-pandemic we had a kitchen team, a support team, we had servers, bartenders, and we had tour guides, who did the gin experience, and gin schools.

More rounded experience 

“When we brought people back and recruited new people, we had one team, which we felt offered more to different people.

“We changed it up so everyone did a little bit of everything.

“We hoped it would give a bit of variety to the role, but also give people a bit more of a rounded experience.”

Ongoing training, development and experimentation also play a big part in the day-to-day running of Three Little Words, which was awarded Best Bar Team by Top 50 Cocktail bars.

Team members are allocated four hours paid training per week with the focus continuously changing, from training to gin making, prep work to mixology or leading gin schools and tours of the bars on-site distillery.

She added: “We do everything from scratch. We make our own shrubs, our own washes, and we're lucky in that we're housed in a distillery. So, if we want it, we make it.

“It might be we come in and give a brief exam and we want everyone to come up with a citrusy gin, and everyone has an hour to create it with all our botanicals on site.

“If you are a bartender, you have a lot of creativity, or you want to explore creativity, sometimes when you work in a bar and you're making drinks off someone else's menu, that creativity isn't explored.

“We want to allocate four hours paid every week where they can learn and develop the knowledge and [develop] that.

Investing in creativity and training

“We've got people who've come to us from abroad, [some] who have worked in Michelin-starred places. We've got one guy who came to us from a finance background.

“He was a finance manager, but was a bit of an at home mixologist, he made himself an Instagram profile and decided he wanted to change career and joined us having never worked in a bar before. Now he runs all the tours and is one of our strongest bartenders.”

While investing in creativity, training, and finding staff with passion were imperative to creating the ‘Best Bar Team of the Year’, recruitment processes have changed somewhat in a post-Covid world, with social media becoming increasingly important to find committed staff.

Duthie said: “We advertise our roles on social media as well as on our website.

“We did a run of [Instagram] stories recently, we were looking to recruit a few people and that, hopefully, gave people a bit more of a snapshot, and behind the scenes footage of what the team gets up to, and a bit more of an insight [into] who we are and what we offer as a company.

“If people follow you and admire your brand, then it's a good way [to recruit]. We like to employ people who like us, who know about us, who like what we do and who believe in our brand. To me, if you're a follower of us, you're already committed.”

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