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Tue 18th Jun 2013 - Orchid pioneers new approach to training
Orchid pioneers new approach to training: Managed pub company Orchid is trialing a new approach in training ‘sales ambassadors’ to provide unforgettable service. The first session took place at Warwick University’s theatre and gave selected employees the opportunity to take to the stage for hands-on learning about up-selling and customer interaction. Created by Orchid’s training team - Lucy Craig, Josie Adams, Sam Beckwith and Hannah Lumby - the session gives staff the chance to step into their customers’ shoes and really embrace hospitality. From the moment each attendee arrived, they were treated to a true theatrical experience complete with popcorn and fizzy drinks. Customised programmes had been specially created with a ‘cast list’ showcasing each attendee along with the reason why they had been nominated to attend by their area manager or general manager. “We talk about sales all the time – any business needs sales – but we’re also really concerned with what leads to great sales,” explains Lucy. “Great service is not only about food and drink; it is also about the show and the experience, and this is what the sales ambassador day was all about. Excellent customer service is a real art and our customers watch what we do, so holding this training session on stage adds that element of being aware of our actions.” The session began with attendees following a trail of different types of shoes which led the way into the theatre – each pair representing a different type of customer they might encounter in their pubs. Attendees each selected a pair and this opened up discussion on how front-of-house teams can learn about their customers and use that knowledge to give them the best possible service and experience. Next, participants tackled the art of flirting and how simple things such as compliments, a smile or just greeting a regular customer by name, can make for excellent customer service. Getting this interaction right for each individual is a vital part of front-of-house service. Groups also looked at how touch can be important and how to use contact and engagement to encourage up-selling and create a strong bond with the customer. This ‘serving without words’ section demonstrated how to make actions stand out. Interactive sessions covered product knowledge, highlighting how information can create confidence in staff, thereby helping them to recommend and sell in a natural, helpful way. To round off the day staff presented their role-plays, choosing the lighting and music to set the pub atmosphere, to share their thoughts on raising the bar and how everyone can offer better service each day. The final memory and show section encouraged everyone to share a memory they will take away from the day, in a nod to the mantra that creating memories ensures repeat custom. “We wanted to create something totally different and unique – Lucy and Josie have done us proud in creating this innovative training day which is sure to be talked about in our pubs for weeks to come,” says Simon Dodd, commercial and HR director at Orchid Group. Lucy added: “With an even greater understanding of boosting sales through service excellence our front-of-house staff are well-placed to showcase the art of service in our pubs. Now, every opening time will be tinged with the excitement and theatre of the stage, giving ‘lights, camera’ action’ a new meaning.” Matt Robinson, from The Beehive in Hertfordshire said: “It was a great experience – good to get out of the pub for the day to help us think about the ‘everyday theatre’ our job entails. I’ve left refreshed and renewed and determined to ensure every customer who comes through our doors leaves with a great memory and wants to return again soon.” Catherine Kelly from the Red Lion in Rothley added: “Training in this way has given me new confidence and ideas to take back to the Red Lion to share with my colleagues. This day really helped us to gain a better understanding of why people come to our pubs, so I will go back to work better able to ensure each customer feels welcome and valued and as if they have their own special area in our pub.”

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