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Work with the Best

Author: Vance Campbell
Source: Bar & Beverage Business Magazine

I was 16, ambitious, looking for a career and was tired of selling suits for Harry Mitchell..  Friends of the family owned a hotel and I applied for a job there.  I was hired as a banquet waiter.  From there, I moved into a number of properties and positions, front desk clerk, info clerk, bellman Ė you name it.  at the age of 23, I opened my own bar.  By 25, I was flat broke.  I knew nothing abut the bar business.  I realize now that I got into the business for the same reason a lot of people do Ė the party, glitz, glamour and so on.  None of these things have anything to do with being an operator in the bar and restaurant industry.

 

The biggest lesson Iíve learned is that our front line is our bottom line.  The entire power of your team is based upon the experience and professionalism of the people you hire.  There is no secret to this industry.  Youíre in a people business.  People want to be treated better when they go out than they are treated at home Ė thatís why they go out.  So you have to hire people who know what they are doing.  Perhaps the most important characteristic one looks for in an employee is one who has a true, built-in love of the industry.  We donít hire any part-time staff.  We prefer to hire people who have been trained by major organizations that have an ongoing training program in place.  We then take that person and imprint our own style on them.

 

The first people you meet at one of our establishments are the people who replace the owners as the official ďgreetersĒ at the door.  The people we hire to work the door, therefore, are people in whom we have the utmost trust.  They are there because we canít be there.  Their function is two-fold: one, to greet your customers; and two, to keep the peace.  All of our doormen are sent to the Justice Institute of BC for training.

 

Our bartenders are what we call performance bartenders.  They are professionals who have taken the fine art of bartending one step further. Scott Young of www.extremebartending.com, who has worked for us for almost seven years, teaches other bartenders performance bartending.  In fact, Scott teaches all over North America and has recently released an instructional video.

 

We do whatever is necessary to get the best wait staff.  Wait staff are generally paid the same hourly wage throughout the industry, so the cream of the crop will gravitate to where the tips are the best.  The tips are the best where the place is the busiest.  The place is the busiest where your front line eclipses any other service experience.  Itís a self-perpetuating machine.

 

Globalization has resulted in a much more educated and discriminating customer.  We are building four more facilities in the next few years.  The truth is you can build the most beautiful club in the world but if you donít employ professional people with proper training, chances are, all you will end up with is a beautiful but empty space.

Date: April 8th, 2005

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Scott Young, President and Head Instructor Bar Smart Inc.