With a great Christmas comes great responsibility

Responsibility is not the first word that springs to mind when you think of Christmas in a pub, but when you are running a pub, it needs to be right up there with getting your beer order right. As a pub landlord, many responsibilities land firmly at your feet, however, at times of plenty like Christmas it can be all too easy to focus on the day-to-day, bookings, stock and money going in the tills and forget the bigger picture.

“Operators and staff of licensed premises have not only an influence but an obligation under the licensing objectives, to prevent crime and disorder and promote public safety.” (John Gaunt and Partners Solicitors)

Responsibility to your customers

At Christmas, in particular, many customers will drink more than usual. Let’s be clear, premises whose staff continue to serve excessive amounts of alcohol to a customer when it is clear they could be driving (and then they go on to do so) may lead to a review of the Premises Licence in addition to criminal charges. Drunk customers can also become difficult to handle, cause issues in the pub even hurting themselves and/or others. Making sure you are clear about when and why you will stop serving people is vital for everyone’s well-being.

For those customers who choose not to drink then it can be good to have an area of the bar set aside for designated drivers/non-drinkers. Making sure that you have an attractive selection of non-alcoholic drinks for this growing group of customers is good service and for many, will give them another reason to come back to your pub.

At Christmas, opening and closing times might differ. Make sure that you let your customers know in advance what these are (and if they are going to be late ones let the neighbours know too!)

When you have big mixed age groups coming into the pub, then it can be easy to miss that person who is underage hidden in the crowd. Again, make sure you and your staff have your eyes wide open and when in doubt check id’s for everyone’s sake.

Responsibility to your staff

Pubs are only as good as the team working in it, so encourage and celebrate great teamwork, great service and great staff to really see the rewards. Give your staff training to cope with big parties, to help them spot the early signs of trouble brewing, handling challenging situations and tricky customers.

Plan work schedules plenty in advance, perhaps even ask what shift people would prefer to do. Your team create the pub’s atmosphere so keep them engaged, motivated and on message.

But your staff (most of them at least) are not just for Christmas. Help your team plan their long-term future in the industry and they will not only feel valued but also more engaged in their job. As employees learn about different aspects of the business, they can take on more responsibility, build their skill set and see hospitality as a career choice, not just a job.

Mental health. Many employers (and people in general) are starting to have more open conversations about the mental health of their staff, and the hospitality industry should be no different. Dealing with the public, long unsociable hours and high levels of responsibility can weigh heavy on your team and spotting the signs of anxious behaviours or poor mental health in your staff and yourself is essential. Just being there to listen or simply asking your staff how they are can go a long way.

You can signpost your team to support services and charities such as The Benevolent or the Samaritans however just letting someone know they are not alone might be the first step to them starting on the path to healing. FindMyPub.com are supporting the Benevolent over the Christmas period so keep an eye out for our social media posts for links to helping your staff if they need it.

Responsibility to your community

Pubs are not just boozers, they are where friendships are made, where relationships begin where we celebrate our achievements and mourn our losses. They are places where we can feel better connected to each other and our communities.

Many pubs are looking at ways they can support their communities such as The Green Dragon, a pub in Market Lavington, Wiltshire, which has launched a digital hub to promote community wellbeing. The pioneering project allows customers to access a desktop PC, printer and three tablets (all free to use) and enjoy a free Wi-Fi connection.

“The equipment is accessible as long as the pub is open, from 9am to 11pm every day,” says Nicky Wragg, who has run the pub with her husband for 15 years, “and we can be around to support anyone who wishes to use it.” (the-pool.com)

Taking care of the lonely in your community is also a way in which the local pub can come into its own. There are many pubs now offering free meals on Christmas day for people on their own over the festive period and throughout the year. The #MeetupMonday movement is giving many people the chance to sit, chat and connect with others in their community. If this is something you would be interested in doing Twitter is a great place to start especially following @TheAlexSW19.

This can seem like a lot of responsibility but let’s not forget that pubs are responsible for a lot of happiness in people’s lives and that is something all of us in the trade should be proud of.