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May update: Wildwood

22 May 2009 by
May update: Wildwood

Since opening his first business late last year, Dominic Wood has found the hardest part of managing his staff is instilling in them the same passion he has for the business.

"I've got to remember they don't see the world through my eyes," Woodsays."They are people whowork in a bar rather than people who have pumped their life savings into a bar."

Currently the site has three full-time staff - two in the kitchen and one front of house - as well as two part time, in addition to the never-resting Wood. The full-time staff do 40 hours a week, part-time staff do around 10, while Wood does about 60, covering front-of-house and kitchen shifts.

Although he stresses that his staff are all excelling in their roles, Wood worries that he comes across as pedantic in his quest for perfection.

"It's getting the balance between making it a fun place to work but making sure they know there are elements I want them to do consistently - wearing their WildWood apron or serving drinks in certain glasses - without having to shout at them," he says.
One avenue Wood has ruled out is a set of staffing guidelines.

"I don't want to do these corporate lists but there are these little things that end up looking petty when I bang on about them the whole time to staff," he says.

Mentor Rupert Clevely, however, argues that Wood's erring on the side of restraint is unnecessary. "A common fallacy among employers is that people think you are being too corporate when you come down hard on them," he says.

"But if you set parameters and tell people what you expect from them, you are giving them boundaries they can succeed within."
In answer to Wood's concern about being pedantic, Clevely is similarly hard-line.

"We have a general policy that says if you don't come in wearing the right clothes or looking smart then you don't stay in," he says.

"It may mean more work for you on the floor one day but the offending person will want his or her hourly wage and remember to dress properly next time."

In terms of motivating staff and getting them to invest in the restaurant and bar, Clevely suggests a monthly newsletter for employees, detailing the business's progress and where it aims to be. "The hardest thing is getting the culture of the place across and making people understand where you are and where you want to be," he says.

"A one-page newsletter every month saying ‘This is the type of customer we want, this is how our sales have grown, this is our drinks spend aim' and so on. It includesthe staff in the site's success."

90 Colston Street, Bristol BS1 5BB
0117 929 3627
www.thewildwoodbristol.co.uk


MAY UPDATE

Following last month's marketing issue, Dominic Wood has taken on mentor Rupert Clevely's strategic advice and cranked his self-publicity up a notch. Big chalkboards in the window advertising forthcoming events have gone up, and a chalkboard on the restaurant's façade has attracted passing trade, as have tables out front. Wood has also taken a more hands-on approach to leafleting.

"I got off the e mail and on foot," he says.

"I went round local businesses and did a mail drop and could see the difference a few days later. A hard copy of a flyer is much more difficult to throw away than a PDF, which you can delete."

As well as upping his self-publicity, Wood has diversified his offering with live music from a guitarist every Thursday and Sunday as well as a live DJ on occasion.

"For anyone who thought we were just a restaurant it has helped dispel that myth," he says.

Also, Wood has delved into the world of Twitter, with his website designer Tweeting on the restaurant's news.

"It has borne fruit, with a few bookings coming in from it," he says.

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