Five minutes with… Brian and Anne Hogg, managers of the Dog and Bear at Lenham
Age: Brian 55; Anne 46
Education: Brian has City and Guilds catering qualifications; both have Personal Licences
Career: Brian and Anne met 25 years ago working at the Philipburn House Hotel in the Scottish Borders, as head chef and duty manager respectively. The couple, who have been married for 22 years, joined Shepherd Neame in 1996 as trainee hotel managers, and managed the Crown Inn at Sarre until 1997. They managed the Woolpack at Chilham until July 2004, when they moved to the Dog and Bear.
Hobbies and interests: Golf, food and wine.
What are your main responsibilities? B: I look after the front of house and the cellar, and Anne looks after the office and rooms.
How do you balance work and family life? B: We have two daughters, both now at university.
How many are in the team? A: We have 30 staff, a mixture of full and part-time.
What personal characteristics help you in your role? B: Being organised and prepared. By being on top of all the little details, you can ensure a perfect welcome for guests. A: You have to enjoy meeting people and be able to hold a conversation about absolutely anything. It is also important to be happy to roll up your sleeves and do any job. We try to lead by example, and never ask the staff to do anything we haven’t done ourselves.
What are the most rewarding parts of your job? A: Seeing customers returning as they have enjoyed their experience with us, and building strong relationships with our regulars. We are on first name terms with lots of them. We also take real pride in the development of our staff.
What is tough about the job? B: It’s not a job, it’s a way of life. Be prepared for unsociable hours, and the unpredictability of the business. No two days are ever the same and there can be sudden peaks and troughs in trade, although that is also part of the fun of it. There is a lot of technology involved in the job now, certainly compared to say five years ago.
What do you consider your biggest success at the company so far? A: We are particularly proud of the way we have become part of village life during our time here at the Dog and Bear. We sponsor two football teams and the cricket team, hold a free Christmas tea party for the village pensioners, and try to support the community whenever we can, taking care to use local suppliers. B: We are also very proud of our fantastic team of staff here at the Dog and Bear. We have many long-serving employees, including our head chef, Paul Daybank, who has been with us since we arrived here 15 years ago. It keeps the business stable, and ensures consistency for customers, as they see the same faces when they visit us. Running a good pub and hotel is all about the people. You need a good team behind you to make it flow and work.
Why did you decide to work for Shepherd Neame? B: We had both been working at the Philipburn House Hotel for a long time, and thought it was time for a change. We decided to apply for a pub management position together, and were invited for interviews all over the country. We came down to Kent for an interview with recruitment co-ordinator Linda Reece at Shepherd Neame, and she offered us the best training package.
How has the company changed since you joined? A: The biggest change has been the impact of the internet. When we started we sent out 20 brochures a day, and now we don’t send any. Everything is online, which is great as it means we are more accessible to people. They can see where we are, look at our menus or book a room in seconds.
What first attracted you to the industry? B: My grandfather was a baker. When I was young, I baked thousands of rolls with him and hated the monotony of it. I wanted to do something more diverse, so I decided to train as a chef. After college, I worked in two restaurants before going to the Philipburn House Hotel as second chef. I was there for 13 years, and promoted to head chef during that time. A: I worked part-time as a waitress at the hotel while I was at school. When I finished school, I spent three weeks in an admin role, but I hated the office environment as I felt enclosed. I decided to go back to the hotel, and started as a receptionist on 80p an hour, gradually working my way up to duty manager. I enjoyed the social side of working at the hotel. The team was friendly, I liked meeting new people, and I felt completely comfortable.