What’s in a day?

Being a pub or bar manager is more of a way of life than a job. That’s not to say it’s easy, because it’s not. You’ll probably be on your feet from dawn to dusk, but it’ll be rewarding, sociable and challenging.

Your main duties are to make sure your customers are happy, that there’s plenty of stock behind the bar and that your staff know how to provide great service. But, as with any time served behind a bar, there’s a lot more to it than that….

Key responsibilities:

  • Recruiting, training and motivating your staff
  • Doing regular stock-takes and ordering as necessary
  • Handling deliveries
  • Maintaining the condition of beer and wine
  • Overseeing or liaising with the kitchen
  • Keeping up to date with licensing legislation, liaising with the authorities and taking overall legal responsibility for the premises
  • Enforcing health and safety rules
  • Adhering to budgets, increasing profits and managing cashflow
  • Dealing with difficult customers

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What sort of hours will I work?

The nature of the job means you’ll work unsociable, long hours, including weekends. The average is about 45 hours a week

The best bit about being a pub/bar manager?

“When the place feels like my home; when the customers and staff are happy and things are going smoothly. It’s very personal and friendly,” says David Trollier, general manager of the Greenwich Union pub in Greenwich.

And the worst bit?

“Well, working with a lot of people has its downsides. There are so many different types of people to deal with – suppliers, the team and so on – and you have to manage different personalities.”

What skills do I need?

Any experience in hospitality will help you develop the people and service skills you need for pub management, but obviously it’s more relevant if you’ve worked behind a bar. You’ll also need bags of personality and a can-do attitude that might see you sorting out a blocked sink if that’s what it takes to keep the business on track that day.

  • Looking after the customers' needs
  • Making sound decisions and problem-solving
  • Controlling your business and managing your margins
  • Growing your sales
  • Communicating effectively

A top tip is to check whether you and the company are a good fit by doing a short work placement behind one of its bars – or at least drop in for a drink and a chat with the locals.

What qualifications do I need?

According to David Trollier, manager at the Greenwich Union, it’s more about using your experience of life and work. Apart from adhering to the usual health & safety regulations, the only formal qualification you need is the National Certificate for Personal Licence Holders, which you get through the British Institute of Innkeepers. All the large pub chains invest in management training so you could consider getting on to an internal management training programme.

Who would it suit?

You’re going to have to like people, because you’ll be seeing an awful lot of them – from every walk of life. You’ll also need stamina, business acumen and a craving for responsibility. Take note that this job is not for anyone who would be tempted to drink the profits …

What sort of salary can I expect?

Salaries vary depending on the size of pub, but the average is £26,887-£29,957, (source: Caterer.com 2010). Many of the big pub companies provide a tempting package, including pensions, bonuses, life assurance and more often than not accommodation – usually above the pub.

Where can I go from here?

There are so many different types of pub to try your hand at, ranging from the local, family varieties, to party joints, gastro pubs and upmarket bars so you need never get bored. You can also choose between an independent employer or one of the big boys.

If you work for a big company you could move into area manager or retail manager roles. Alternatively you could take more control of your destiny and become a pub tenant, whereby you take on a pub lease. And if you ever get tired of calling “time please”, you could branch out and set up your own business or move into a different sector of hospitality – let’s face it, this job will equip you for anything.

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