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May update: The Royal Sportsman

22 May 2009 by
May update: The Royal Sportsman

The Royal Sportsman hotel has 16 members of staff, having taken on two new people in the past two months. This includes a restaurant supervisor, bar supervisor, housekeeping supervisor and head chef.

Each has a deputy and they work in teams, alongside a finance officer and a deputy general manager. The latter runs the hotel operations, and owner Louis Naudi, who is also the general manager in effect, primarily takes care of marketing, financial control, refurbishment and policies that affect the hotel.

"I deal with all staff contracts and pay issues," he explains.

"Holidays are taken with our busyperiodsin mind. The golden rule is that staff can take holidays whenever they like, provided adequate cover is in place.

"As for pay, we have always paid our staff over the going rate and my accountant has noticed that our wage bill is larger than would have been expected in a hotel operation."

Perhaps it's for this reason that the average amount of time served at the Royal Sportsman is four-and-a-half years. The head housekeeper has been there for 30 years, after joining as a 16-year-old Trust House Forte Hotel trainee, and Naudi himself has been there for just over 10 years.

In terms of recruitment, he feels his team is well chosen and puts this down to the selection process.

"We look for extroverts, who like to work hard, enjoy themselves, have personality and understand our customer service ethos. It is important that our staff have fun here. Six of our employees are from other parts of Europe, chosen for their terrific sense of quality, customer service and hard work," he explains.

But, Naudi adds, finding good staff locally can be a challenge, owingto a "poor calibre and service ethos". Nevertheless, he has successfully employed five local Welsh speakers.

Naudi asks each applicant to go through a three-stage interview process, so he can "weed out" the inappropriate ones.

"I pick the ones that will learn, contribute and enjoy working here. I have interviewed and employed hundreds of people over the years, and my style has not changed in all that time. I particularly try to identify those who perhaps did not have the opportunities when they were younger," he says.

Naudi also stresses the importance of loyalty and is keen to point out that his staff are part of the family: "If they need help, we help them," he adds.

When it comes to training, Naudi says he spends a great deal on both internal programmesand NVQ schemes and that his staff have a good success rate. All those who join the hotel are offered training with the local college as the assessor, and over 75% have attained qualifications.

But Naudi points out that retaining good employees remains difficult.

"Small businesses can be reluctant to train staff because, once trained, they realise there may be no opportunities for promotion or they think they can earn more as a consequence elsewhere," he explains. "They leave, and take with themthe benefits of training."

Naudi says his biggest problem is finding Rosette-level chefs. So he obtained his current chefs by using a specialist agency, personal recommendations and by trawling the European market.

Mentor Peter Birnie says: "Louis and I spoke of the difficulty of finding staff in a rural area, which is a common problem among independent operators. He clearly looks after his employees and works to develop them, too. When I was there, the staff were very good - they attended our meeting and were interested in my viewpoint. It's good that Louis seeks their input in the business and takes on board their suggestions."

131 High Street, Porthmadog, Gwynedd, LL49 9HB
01766 512015
www.royalsportsman.co.uk

MAY UPDATE

Owner Louis Naudi lost one of his duty managers in March. She had been with the hotel for two years, when she became a stepmother and wanted to work from 9am to 5pm and have weekends off.

"I could not accommodate those conditions, so she left. I have been doing her job since and I've not had a day off in the last month," Naudi explains.

Naudi advertised for the position, but he says the quality of applicants was very poor. He has now appointed another person to train on a part-time basis, and is waiting to see whether she will make the grade.

He adds: "It can take many months to learn the ins and outs of this job and I cannot see in the future when I will have a day off, let alone take a holiday.

"I am not complaining, but this is another example of the lack of local service culture. Many of the hotels are staffed by workers from the rest of the EU and they can provide staff accommodation. We have none to offer and it's a big disadvantage. So my advice to would-be hoteliers is ‘be prepared'."

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