The Stephan Langton pub is run by leaseholders Chris and Rosie Robinson. Its kitchen team comprises head chef Simon Adams, Rosie, commis chef James Whale and pot washer Przemyslaw Kuczak. Front of house is made up of Chris and barman David Thomas. Part-time staff members include Jacqui Hackett, who works behind the bar one day a week, and eight local people to cover busy periods.
The Robinsons lead by example and take a personal approach to managing their staff, as Chris explains: "The main motivator for people at work is said to be money, but there are other factors that contribute to their loyalty and we feel that simply treating people with respect is a decisive factor in their view of their job."
Key to the Robinsons' philosophy is their view that employees need to not only be settled at work but also in their home environment. As well as helping head chef Adams to find local accommodation, saving him a lengthy commute, the Robinsons also helped pot washer Kuczak and his wife settle into the country, register for national insurance numbers and with the new Border Authority; seek permanent accommodation and find a school for their children.
"We have spent much time in assisting staff to integrate into both the local environment and gain national registrations. This is probably beyond the call of duty as an employer, but in an industry of high turnover - and being in such a remote location - we need to work hard at keeping staff and to date there has been stability," Chrissays.
Private medical insurance for senior staff, meals from the menu while on duty to help buildproduct knowledge andrewards and praise for good service all contribute to a happy working environment at the Stephan Langton.
"We try to encourage staff to be responsible for their own area of work but give them as much responsibility as they want to take on. Training tends to be ‘on the job' and staff members are encouraged to talk to customers and make them feel welcome," Chrissays.
"Our part-time staff receive a fair rate of pay and are regarded as we regard full-time employees. We set about ensuring the security of our employees so that they, in return, are more loyal to both us and our business."
Friday Street, Abinger Common, Surrey RH5 6JR
Leaseholders Chris and Rosie Robinson have attracted extra business at the Stephan Langton by distributing 2,000 leaflets displaying their spring menu and a special promotion to local homes, at a cost of just £175. April sales were up 31% against the same month last year and sales for the first four months of the year are 11% better then last.
First Choice Coffee's key account manager, Stephen Brecher, visited the pub this month to teach staff about sales - and about making cappuccinos and lattes to a consistent high standard.
"Customer response to the new coffee blend has been very positive and we will be arranging a coffee event soon," Chris says.
This month the kitchen team is taking the day off to attend the Real Food Festival in London's Earl's Court, which Chris describes as "a bit of fun while gathering ideas for local and organic produce".
A series of summer events is planned from June to September, kicking off with a Magna Carta Day in celebration of the Stephan Langton motif and featuring traditional English food plus ale coincidentally called Magna Carta Mild.
Other events include morris dancing, a race night in aid of children's charity Dreams Come True, a locals night to be organised by the locals themselves, and a fine-dining night with wine tasting and a special menu.