Why we need to do our own selling
20 June, 2012
What could be more fun than working in a pub or a restaurant? Surprisingly, not everyone out there shares the enthusiasm for this business that most of you reading this probably do, writes Peter Martin.
Weird, I know, but the hospitality industry still does not have the best of images when it comes to being an employer. Good for earning a few extra quid waiting on tables or pulling pints, but a career?
We know it’s changing, and our leading operators can boast some of the best training and career development programmes anywhere in business—and who has more fun than Nando’s crews? There’s a real commitment to building great teams across the market, witnessed by the work of brands like Pizza Hut and by the numbers coming to our annual Jim Sullivan UK Workshop year after year.
No-one is probably more enthusiastic about his people than Keith Knowles the entrepreneurial founder of Beds & Bars. “People don’t realise that you can earn serious money here, and have a lot of fun doing it,” he says, but still laments that “as an industry we need to spread that message better if we are going to attract the best people.”
Those words were echoed by YO! Sushi boss Robin Rowland, speaking at the recent British Hospitality Summit in London, who agreed that hospitality needed to be better at selling itself and sharing its success stories. “Our business is so sexy and exciting with so many great brands and stories but we are absolutely lousy at actually putting
ourselves in front of media,” he admitted.
There’s the issue. Although we’re doing better, it’s not good enough and old prejudices are hard to shift. There are many good industry-wide initiatives, and evangelists such as Knowles are great advocates of Investors in People and its like. One of the latest is an event being pioneered by Springboard and championed by Whitbread hotels and restaurants boss Patrick Dempsey, called the Big Conversation.
Its aims are to boost dialogue between employers and youngsters, particularly the unemployed, to find jobs for young people and encourage work placements and apprenticeships. It will bring together 50 senior company executives, chaired by Dempsey, to promote the development of quality, structured work experience and apprenticeships in hospitality. The event itself is on July 11 at the Royal Horseguards Hotel in London—and everyone should get behind it.
The wider industry needs to back-up these well- planned set pieces. Promoting the sector should be relentless, a day-in-day-out activity. Everyone needs to take responsibility. Publicly quoted companies like Whitbread, Wetherspoons and McDonald’s are already using their results announcements to highlight their job creating value to the country and career schemes. More should follow suit. It’s no good waiting for the Government to do something or relying on the established trade bodies to bear the burden.
That’s where the entrepreneurial, and dare I say sexier, end of the market can play a big part, rallying round the likes of Knowles and Rowland, with impromptu, opportunistic activities.
The London IT market has already set an example. On the last weekend in May, more than 100 small London web, social media and technology firms, mainly based around Old Street “silicon” roundabout, gathered in a converted brewery in Brick Lane for a two-day jobs fair, which attracted about 1,900 job-hunters.
By banding together, smallish firms could collectively sell the idea of working for an entrepreneurial business. Part of the appeal for would-be employees was the cool informality on display—no suits—with table football and a free bar.
No-one should do fun better than the pub and bar business. But the real message is that there’s a rewarding career here too. The challenge is there for everyone.
This column was first published in the June/July 2012 issue of Peach Report magazine