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Savile Row’s winning formula for zero staff turnover during pandemic

Savile Row

Brisbane West End whisky bar Savile Row has re-started its staff training after a long delay due to the pandemic, and believe it will be the key to maintaining staff satisfaction.

The bar has a long-term belief that spending time training its staff will reduce turnover. Which evidently is a proven concept with the bar losing no staff during the COVID-19 pandemic last year.

Now, as the Savile Row’s popularity returns to pre-COVID trading, bar manager Jacob Cohen is excited to re-institute his training program.

Jacob told Bars and Clubs: “2021 has been busier than we ever could have expected. We are smashing all goals at the moment which is really good. We’ve got a few goals at the moment with last year being as crazy as it was, we slowed down a few events and staff training, which was a big one that I’ve been really keen to get back up and running.

“Our staff trainings and training programs are full steam ahead at the moment. We’ve got a lot of young staff who are all progressing really quickly, and our team in general is also a really good one at the moment.

“We haven’t had any staff turnover over the last year which stems from the staff really loving what they do and where they are doing it at the moment, which is amazing. It feels really good to run a team that enjoys being at work rather than just being there for a job so that’s a massive thing for us.”

He added that the key to an efficient and loyal staff base is the level of care management has: “We believe not only is training so important to us but we’re constantly trying to work towards helping our staff in any way we can.

“Whether that is inside or outside of work, we sit down with them all the time and ask them about their goals and try and help them as best we can.

“Reinvesting in staff is a massive thing that is overlooked. There’s no immediate return on investment that you can see but those intangible returns on investment are so important, and that’s something we put a massive focus on.”

Savile Row bottled spirits

Recent success grows opportunity for more

The return of staff training is not the only thing Jacob is excited about, with Savile Row announcing it will be upgrading its shelving to house more than 900 glass spirits.

Jacob said: “We are primarily a whiskey bar so currently we have in the in the realm of 800 to 900 spirits behind the bar which is going to jump up even higher pretty soon once we’ve finished upgrading our shelving.

“At the moment, we stock about 650 whiskies, and then a large chunk of gin, rum and tequila and everything else. The gins we stock are primarily Australian distillers. We do have other stuff, obviously, but we use primarily Australian distillers.

“We do have a constantly growing list of Australian whisky as well.”

Expanding the range of an already robust offering does have its challenges however, with damaged supply chains preventing an efficient re-stocking process.

Jacob said: “The most difficult thing we face at the moment is supply issues. Every week most of my job is chasing down stuff that suppliers can’t get in stock. It’s a bit of a challenge.

“Overseas has really hurt a lot of supplies from booze to glassware to everything, nothing can get into the country so it does make it really, really challenging.

“While they’re definitely the most time consuming challenges they’re definitely the most medial compared to trying to keep our customer base and our guest experience at the level that we expect it to be. It is a constant ever evolving task and we’re constantly trying to improve ourselves as well as the venue.”

Savile Row has also recently instituted a shift in business operations, enlisting the help of a new marketing team, relieving pressure from the front of house staff and management.

He explained: “We’re doing a lot better than then we were pre-COVID, we’re kicking goals at the moment which is awesome. We restructured our business slightly in terms of how the business is run.

“We’ve been putting a lot of effort into this in the last six months like improving our systems and our structure in terms of how we do things and have taken on a lot of renovations to make things a little more streamlined.

“We’ve also implemented a new marketing team which is a massive help, marketing is a hard thing to quantify but I think that’s definitely been an easy one for us.

“It’s definitely helped in how we structure the business and our training program and what we offer in our hospitality experience for locals of Brisbane and now also people that are lucky enough to travel here as well.”

Savile Row boosts menu options

When Bars and Clubs spoke to Jacob, Savile Row was also releasing its new cocktail menu, which, similar to its shelving, is also increasing, with five additional cocktails being added.

Excited at the release of the new menu after half a year of cultivating, Jacob said: “There are some really unique cocktails this time. I’ve been here for three years now so I’ve seen a few menu changes but this is my favourite one so far and it’s also the largest. We usually do a 20 drink menu but this one is 25.

“Our menu creation is approximately a six months process. We usually keep a menu on for about nine months and after three months of having a new menu on, that’s when we begin to look at the next one, because it’s a long process.

“We start by thinking about a theme and inspirations, but this one is less theme-based and more us just trying to make the best drinks we could. It’s a full team effort, everyone from our glassies to prep people to bartenders and myself as a manager, work on it.

“The end is the hardest part and that’s naming the cocktails. And I think most bartenders will agree.”

Savile Row is building on its 2021 success and anticipated boost in patronage from its expanding bottle spirits and menu offering by taking the next step to hire more staff.

Jacob said: “For the moment with Savile, we’re currently overstaffed for what we were doing three months ago, and now we’re about to hire even more people just because we are getting so busy, which is awesome.

“It’s a matter of continuing to do that while maintaining our quality of service that we hold so close to our hearts.”

Photos: Savile Row Facebook

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