Last weekend Mrs A and I visited friends in Bournemouth and we ended up going over to Studland Bay in Dorset.
Having enjoyed a fantastic coastal path walk in warm sunshine we decided to pop into a lovely looking country pub called The Bankes Arms.
Feeling thirsty from my endeavours I approached the bar and ordered drinks for my friends – no problem so far even though the teenage barman, let’s call him Billy, showed very little interest.
Even a smile seemed an impossible task for him to take on.
Now the sticking point. I asked for a double Gin and Tonic for myself. This conversation followed:
Billy: “We don’t have any Tonic.”
Me: “A pub without tonic water. What’s that all about?”
Billy, sighs, looking away: “There was a wedding here last night, we’ve ran out.”
Me: “Well ok I’ll have a bottle of Becks please.”
Billy, slides it across the counter Wild West saloon style.
Me: “This is warm.”
Billy: “No cold ones. We had a wedding here last night.”
It wasn’t just what he said in a monotone ‘Computer says no’ voice and dead eyed look. It was his overall demeanour. Uninterested, unfriendly and an absolute assassin for the pub’s reputation.
Fair enough someone more senior should have planned the buying to take into account the wedding.
I’d have probably ordered two large G & T’s with lunch costing around £12 instead as no alternatives were offered to me I went for a bottle of water at £2.
With a little effort and enthusiasm on Billy’s behalf the conversation could have gone like this:
Billy: “We’ve run out of tonic sir but we do have some lovely refreshing fresh orange juice (or any other well pitched alternative) which could accompany the gin. Perfect for a warm day like this.”
Me: “Ok that sounds good – I’ll give it a try.”
Billy: “Would you be interested in any crisps or nuts to accompany your drinks?”
Me: “Yeah why not. I’ll have a selection of four please.”
If Billy’s approach was like this the till would’ve rung louder and most importantly I would’ve come away feeling good about the place.
At My News I drum it into my staff to alternatives to customers. ‘Missed the deadline for the Croxley magazine?’ – ‘No problem, have you thought about going into our Northwood or Rickmansworth editions?’
This experience for me shows the importance of getting the right people working for you. Then it’s up to me as the boss.
When it comes to staff I think you’ve got to choose them well, train them well and treat them well.
Otherwise you could end up with an in-house assassin just like Billy the barman.