The Countryman

Written by: Sarah Milward
Date added: Wed, 17/02/2016 - 14:02

Great service needs a great team

Peter and Shirley have been running pubs in Nottinghamshire for 16 years, so they knew the area well. When The Countryman became available, they could see its potential and were keen to take it on.

When they first started, the pub was very quiet. It had few customers and needed a huge injection of enthusiasm! They gradually grew the business and started to serve food after about 6 months. Shirley ran the bar and Peter took on the role of chef – and he’s keen to point out that they took it in turns to do the washing up every night!

At the time they started their tenancy, the pub was owned by New Century Inns. In 2007, Greene King took over the company and the couple were concerned that things may change. Peter comments, ‘It has worked out really well! After we had been trading for around 5 years, we approached Greene King and suggested a massive refurbishment, taking the business from a traditional local to a food destination pub. This would also free up some of Shirley’s time so that she could train staff to deliver outstanding customer service and set our business apart from the competition. Greene King agreed with our plans and has worked with us to joint-fund additional projects since then – including recently creating a beer terrace to open up our outside space.’

Shirley manages marketing for the business, but the most powerful advertising tool they have is the customers themselves – ‘We like to think we’ve created a business that people appreciate. If they feel that our food and service are great, they come back again. And what’s more, they tell others about us too!’ says Peter.

Around 18 months ago, Greene King approached the couple and suggested they take on The Bromley at Fiskerton. Shirley was confident that they could succeed… ‘Our 4 sons work in the business, so we knew that the standards we set at The Countryman would be easy to repeat for another pub. I’m passionate about training and developing people. We had trained Daniel, our manager at The Countryman, and I realised that this was the best way to get the perfect person who could work to the standards we wanted. So when we were looking at The Bromley, there was a member of our team who we felt could take on the responsibility. Alan, one of our waiters, joined us 3 years ago and already had a business degree – with training he would be right for the job. We treat him as part of our extended family and we trust him to know how things should be done. It helps that one of our sons is the chef at the new pub too!’

Shirley’s passion for developing and retaining staff is seen throughout the business. ‘We want everybody to work together to provide the best service they can, so we collect all tips from customers throughout the year. We like to take all the staff out as a thank you for how hard they work. Last year 52 of us invaded Mansfield Superbowl in fancy dress on a Monday in January! At the event, tips are divided and staff receive a substantial amount which is calculated on a pro-rata basis – even the cleaner and pot washers get a share!’

‘Of course, you only get the bonus if you are still working in the business at the time of our annual day – this is a great way to ensure that our staff are loyal right through the Christmas period and beyond. That’s when great service really counts!’