Tuesday, 3 July 2018

Nice Lot in the East Riding

When it comes to how you best increase the viability of pubs and to a lesser extent how you make your venue more attractive to the diminishing number of pub devotees, one aspect that is overlooked when suggesting themed evenings, upping the food offer, serving cream teas, breakfasts, or using it as a venue for the local slimming club or the like, is simply getting the staff to smile, or even, horror of horrors actually talk to customers.

I may have mentioned this before - of course I have - I'm always banging on about it - but as someone who was trained properly in how to act behind the bar it always amazes me that this simple and cheap aspect is largely overlooked.  Last week three of us were served (separately and at different times) by the same "Shift Leader" in a local JDW without the server actually looking any of us in the eye. She did though manage to conduct, simultaneously and not without a deal of dexterity, an apparently more satisfactory and enjoyable conversation with her colleagues standing at the drinking side of the bar, who had just finished their own stint on the staff side of it. So, on the bright side, she did know how to do it, just it seems, not in the context of her job.

Simple things like "Hello" when you arrive and "Thanks" when you leave, an assuring "I'll be with you in a minute" if the bar is busy, are easy to do, but make a massive difference to how the customer perceives the place. It can literally can be money in the bank. If somehow staff can be taught to parrot annoyingly  "Is there anything else?" as if dealing with a chronic amnesiac, then surely the odd greeting and goodbye can't be beyond them?  As for the meaningless "You all right there?" well, I covered that one here years ago when it was in its infancy, but it goes on still, and still grates as much.  Try unambiguous "Can I help you?" or "What can I get you?" Trust me it will annoy the customers a lot less, especially grumpy old bastards like me, though of course like all customer facing jobs, you need to adapt your approach according to the situation.

But it wasn't last weeks JDW encounter that prompts this. On last weekend's trip to Hull and Beverley, it was noticeable how the staff in that neck of the woods, despite hoards of people - including our busload arriving more or less at once at one or two places - all seemed to be pleasant, interested and helpful - often unpromptedly suggesting pubs, or joining in conversations to give directions, or asking where we came from.  I don't recall one "You all right there?"  Well done to all.

Unless of course it was the sunshine that made them smile? Can't see it being that though surely. They were stuck inside.

Got a couple more tales to tell from that weekend of unbroken sunshine and indeed fairly unbroken boozing.

I also went to Nellies in Beverley. A Sam's gem. You'll all know it of course?



ABrewHaHa said...

It's just as bad with supermarket checkout operators, silent throughout the process but as soon as you've paid they wake up and invariably they parrot "see you later" but the look blank when I enquire when.

Curmudgeon said...

I'm not really too bothered in the supermarket, as that's just a functional transaction, not somewhere you go to socialise.

Indeed I'd prefer it if supermarket staff didn't try to engage me in conversation beyond basic politeness - remember Caroline Aherne's prying checkout girl in "The Fast Show"?

RedNev said...

"You all right there?" isn't too bad, as at least you have gained the barman's or barmaid's attention. I get irritated when I've been standing at the bar for several minutes right in front of the barman who insists on bawling out, "Who's next?", instead of using his brain to work out the obvious fact that it's me. At more than 6' 1", I'm hardly invisible. I become even more annoyed when someone who has just rolled up, says "Me!" and is served. Can't they see beyond the other side of the bar?

Anonymous said...


Life After Football said...

You are so right - I've been to pubs with hardly any punters but the bar staff are friendly and clearly care and happy to return whereas other places I've been too I wouldn't rush back to at all for the reasons you mention....And I love pubs!