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Senior hospitality positions are undeniably demanding. Certain people thrive in this environment, and we love getting to know them. SPE Resourcing work with some incredible hospitality brands in the UK. They want people who are focused, decisive, and clear about what they can bring to a business from day one.

Let’s analyse which of the most common skills these senior hospitality positions are seeking, and how they’re applied to the real world…

Placing the customer first

Every business needs to treat its customers well. But hospitality brands must go further. They offer consumers an escape from stress, hunger or boredom; a space in which someone can feel cared for. Good managers never forget this. If a guest or patron isn’t happy with the level of service, they won’t come back.

In the first instance how much does it cost, in marketing terms, to acquire a customer? When they’re through your doors how do you get them to come back again? When they’ve come back again, how do you convert them to a brand advocate?

It is the job of the entire team to ensure that colleagues place the customer first. The majority of the time, that relies on close communication of the brand’s values with floor managers, kitchen and bar staff, and receptionists. Begin a regular feedback loop – how motivated is your workforce? Are they stressed? What are they hearing from customers, in both a good and constructive sense? Be relentless – what can we do better? Ask it every minute of every hour of every day!

It’s then possible to measure how the feedback is being addressed. You can monitor call times at a reception desk, for instance, to see how quickly issues are resolved. Digital ID systems may reveal which staff (and, by extension, personalities) are getting the most tips. There are many ways to track interactions with real metrics. But keep it simple – in retail and hospitality is it any harder than being genuine, caring and warm?

Realising where trends are headed

Very few sectors can afford to stand still for long. In hospitality, this is magnified because the full package is made up of so many working parts. You may be dealing with an environment that feeds, hydrates, relaxes and entertains guests all at once.

Tastes change, however. There are new trends in food, music, décor, leisure and alcohol almost weekly. Today’s ‘small plates’ are next year’s ‘deluxe burgers’. If you don’t keep up with these trends, the brand will start to lag behind its competitors.

Doing so takes an instinctive curiosity for what’s happening in the sector, as well as the culture surrounding it. Our clients want senior hospitality positions filled by those who are ahead of the curve. Consume all the media you can. Blogs, new articles, magazines and podcasts shed light on what the customer desires. Visit your competitors. Listen to customers – where is the buzz?

Being fanatical about processes

Even though we source candidates who bring a lot of their own personality to the table, systems are vital for measuring success. Staff have to know what they’re doing. Furthermore, you must be aware of what that is, from the first stage to the eventual solution.

The ideal hire can see where cause and effect interlink. To prepare, they have a plan for every aspect of service, safety and complaints handling. It is a template that is born out of logic, rather than assumption.

Waiters, for instance, should be aware of their tables for the evening, so they don’t clash. Chefs need to have a labelling technique for various foods. Barmen must have some idea of when to change a barrel, keeping a back-up available over busy periods. Without these operational basics you can’t even start to deliver the levels of service that lead to advocacy. These are just a taster for what may arise in the business; the trick is to anticipate them, and demonstrate your forward thinking.

If you are a good candidate, we shouldn’t have to explain much more – it’s likely you already have such traits, and that SPE Resourcing will uncover them in due course. But don’t wait for us to tell you if you pass the grade. Develop your skills. Keep getting better and more intuitive. Then – and only then – will you get noticed, and a headhunter will come looking for you…