Advice

Using the lockdown to upskill your team

If your business is closed, working within limited hours or not operating at full capacity, you can use the extra time available to develop the skills of both you and your team.

Alison Magee-Barker is the owner of AJ Lakes, the business success and growth consultancy with more than 30 years of experience specialising in the hospitality sector.

In this article, she walks you through the types of courses which would be most beneficial to your hospitality business.

Developing your own skills

Even the most experienced business owners are up against a completely unfamiliar challenge at the moment, with a global pandemic, a national lockdown, a worrying economy and no fixed date for when the end will come.

So not only is the extra time afforded to us a great opportunity to brush up on the skills that help us keep running successful businesses, it’s also never been more crucial to get on top of your game.

First up should be any courses related to finance: think managing cashflow, budgeting, cost control, anything that will give you a better understanding of your figures and insight into keeping your business afloat during lean times.

It will also help to freshen up your marketing know-how. Even if you already have experience, we’re operating under entirely new conditions and the more good ideas you have at your disposal, the better equipped you will be able to reach potential customers and generate extra income.

Upskilling employees

The government allows employees currently on furlough to undertake training without it affecting the support you receive. In fact, they have recommended it is a productive way to use time that would otherwise be spent at work.

There may be skills specific to your business and range of services which can be refreshed, refined and updated such as online culinary courses to enable you to expand your dining offer, baking your own fresh produce such as bread and cakes to turn your hand to offering afternoon teas and so on.

In fact, one of the key areas I would urge everyone to review is cost control for both the chefs and the food and beverage team.  Knowing your numbers is critical and knowing where you can shave off a few pounds here and there, without compromising on your offering, will play a key role going forwards in helping you be more profitable. 

Then there are the general skills which all employees would benefit from. These include motivation, keeping a positive mindset and managing mental health. It’s important to be able to care for your own mental health as well as to be aware of the well-being of others and to support anybody who is struggling. 

You must pay at least minimum wage for all mandatory training, but this will more often than not be covered by furlough payments anyway.

And if you are struggling to get buy-in from any employees that are enjoying their new-found free time, be sure to highlight both how the training will help the business prosper during these tough times, as well as how great additional training will appear on their CV. Training courses conducted as a team can also provide a great bonding experience and be especially beneficial to any individuals suffering from feelings of isolation.

Success in business is not about avoiding challenges but turning them to your advantage. We in the hospitality sector now have an abundance of free time which, if viewed as a resource, can be used to build better, more effective and more productive teams. And those are the teams which will be better equipped to see through the pandemic and to make the most of our inevitable recovery.


By Alison Magee-Barker, founder of AJ Lakes Consultancy: the UK’s No. 1 hospitality consultant

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