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Posted: 02 June 2014
Blog category: Meet the Team
Education: Degree in Accountancy from Liverpool University; Personal Licence
Career: Various roles at London hotels and bars, progressing from bar staff to assistant manager level; manager of the Old Doctor Butler’s Head in Moorgate from 1999 to 2004; manager of The Spitfire pub in Kings Hill from 2004 to 2008; appointed manager of The Sun in 2008.
What are your main responsibilities?
Overseeing the successful operation of The Sun, an historic pub in the centre of Faversham, dating back to the 14th century. In addition to the bar area, it has a restaurant, large courtyard garden and eight bedrooms.
What does a typical day involve?
Our team works on a rota, so we will either be on an early shift from 7am to 4pm or late shift from 4pm to close. We look after breakfast, then make sure the accommodation rooms are turned around, and get ready for the lunch service, and then the dinner service. By ensuring all the preparations are completed in good time, it means the team is relaxed when guests and customer arrive, and have time to offer great service. We see a large number of repeat customers and accommodation bookings as a result.
How many are in the team?
We have a team of 20 staff. Creating a good team is imperative to running a successful business. Every pub will work if you get the right people in the right places, each understanding their role. Customers can feel the tension when there is friction between staff.
What personal characteristics help you in your role?
Most important are people skills, essential when interacting with the diverse range of customers that visit The Sun, and ensuring my staff are happy and confident in their roles.
What are the most rewarding parts of your job?
Every Shepherd Neame site is individual, so while there are general parameters in which I work, I have freedom to put my own stamp on the business. In the case of The Sun, I took a business that was not achieving its full potential, and it’s now thriving. I get a real thrill not only from the financial rewards of that, but from the satisfaction of seeing happy customers.
What is tough about the job?
You can’t expect to keep everybody happy, all the time, but difficult customers can be tough - though luckily they are few and far between.
What do you consider to be your biggest personal success at the company so far?
My work at The Sun. The pub is only five minutes from the brewery, and I am very proud that staff from all departments visit regularly, often with important clients. It is a real compliment to know that they feel able to walk into The Sun at any time, confident that it will present an excellent image of the company, due to our high calibre of food and service.
How has the company changed since you joined?
Shepherd Neame has invested more in its food business in recent years, and that has resulted in an amazing surge of talent across the estate’s kitchens. We have particularly benefited here at The Sun from the brewery’s investment in its estate, with a revamp of the bedrooms, restaurant and bar a couple of years ago, which really smartened us up. We also have additional floor space, after No.9 opened last Easter. The brewery bought the house on the left of the pub, and it is now another comfortable customer area.
What first attracted you to the industry?
I’m originally from Northern Ireland, just north of Belfast, and I moved over to the UK for university. After my degree I worked in an accountancy role for six months but really didn’t enjoy the office environment, so I decided to get a job at a London bar and never looked back.
What advice would you give to people thinking of going into the pub industry?
If you love interacting with people, and you are happy to put in time, effort and enthusiasm, you will succeed. What you get out is what you put in.
What will be your next career move?
We have a seven-year-old son and five-year-old girl, and they are settled at school. I can see myself here for a while.