Home' Bars and Clubs : BAC MayJun 2016 Contents "We're here at head
office to support them,
not to bust their balls."
The most obvious task for Shipley is finding time for all of the
people who needed help, across all of the venues.
"So the challenge is being able to be available. We have
26 venues and I can't see every single venue in every part
of the day," he says. "There just isn't enough hours and
everything has to be planned so that I can see as many
people as I want to."
Within bar groups there is always a question around how
much freedom to give each individual venue to create and
maintain its own personality, and how much control needs to
be maintained by head office. According to Shipley, it's more
about compliance than control.
"We just make sure that the general managers are
adhering to contracts. We've got a lot of business partners
and we do the right thing by everyone and we make sure
that those key guys are looked after," he says. "But we do
also want the managers to have the flexibility to make their
Even when those decisions might not be the right ones.
So how those potential mistakes are dealt with is also crucial.
"It's really important for our guys to learn that they might
have made a wrong decision. We support them as much as
we can and it comes back to the communication," he says.
"The guys might make a decision but they will always let us
know and just say, what do you think? And we'll encourage
them to give it a go. So both of those things -- we try to keep
things flexible but really supporting them at the same time."
Shipley reinforces that the key to the success of a head
office is making sure that the managers are given the tools to
make the right decisions for the business. b&c
COMMUNICATE! COMMUNICATE! COMMUNICATE!
"Communication is massively important. I'm lucky that I have good, strong personal
and business relationships with a lot of our general managers. So having that makes us
strong. I'm here as a support for them and in return they install trust in me to do the right
thing for them. They know that if I'm on the job it will be done and it will be good for
them. I'm lucky to have their trust, because that is a massive part of it. If you're not on
the same page then you're just driving around in circles and it all goes horribly wrong."
KEEPING IT IN THE FAMILY
"Retaining great staff comes down to a bunch of factors for us, I think the right venue
manager in the right venue is a really big thing for us. The right manager understands
their venue, their staff and their guests. So for us that means understanding them as
individuals and comes back to respect.
Another massive thing for us is training. That is 101, but we try and do it as much as
we can. And it has to be relevant training, and we make it fun.
We incentivise our staff a lot, we all work hard and we like to celebrate that and
reward them. So we have crew parties, we send an email out to all our staff saying
something like: Tuesday night, from 6pm come down to Goros for free food, free drinks,
And we do that with our managers and assistant mangers too -- we have parties
and trips away. Then there is also a lot of staff engagement like Christmas parties for
individual venues where we take them to a brewery to brew their own beer and that sort
So all those things go a long way to retaining our staff because we're here at head
office to support them, not to bust their balls. They know that when we walk in we're
there to help. So it comes down to a lot of different elements -- the training, rewarding,
incentivising, and support keeps the staff here and they know that we have their backs.
We saw it first hand at Hinky Dinks as well -- we didn't have many staff but they often
stayed for two or three years just because we were doing the right thing by them."
KEEP THE MENU FRESH
"It's incredibly important because
there are a lot of great venues out
there doing great drinks, great food
and great service. We're really spoilt
for choice. So we like to do interesting
things, whether it is little pop-up
activations like our Champagne and
Bloody Mary brunches, or an Aperol
Spritz cart or a Mexican night or
something like that. Not necessarily
being ahead of the curve, because
that is hard to do realistically when
you have a lot of venues, but just
doing what you do well, and being
seasonal. All menus should be changed
seasonally, if not bi-seasonally, just to
keep on top of things."
ADAPT OR PERISH...
"If there is a trend we try to jump on
it as quickly as we can -- to a degree,
because if it doesn't fit with the
narrative of the venue then there's
not much point. So every venue
has a narrative and we stick to that
adapt our offering will determine
that narrative. What works at
Newtown won't work at Opera Bar.
Like having a seasonal gin and tonic
menu at The Sheaf, or a heap of
rosé by the glass, then in Newtown
it might be a heap of tap takeovers
for craft beer or the latest craft beer
coming out of Portland."
BLOODY MARY BRUNCH
AT THE GOLDEN SHEAF
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