You probably imagine that being a pub/bar manager is all about serving yourself pints, constant happy hours for you and your friends and chucking out trouble makers with the line. The reality is still a vibrant and fast paced environment where you'll never be bored.
So, what will I actually be doing?
It’s your job to keep the customers happy so they keep buying pints. Making sure the pub/bar runs without a hitch, you’ll also be responsible for managing stock levels and figuring out staff rotas so you'll always have the right amount of staff behind the bar at the right time.
When you're not busy with stock and staff, your other duties include:
- Recruiting, training and motivating staff
- Keeping up to date with licensing legislation and taking legal responsibility for the premises
- Ensuring beer and wine are kept in good condition (and no, you can't drink them if they 'look gone off')
- Enforcing health and safety rules
- Managing kitchen staff
- Dealing with difficult customers (who may or may not have drunk their own body weight)
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The finer details...
As far away from the typical 9-5 office job, expect to work unsociable, long and irregular hours, including weekends. You’re looking at clocking up around 45 hours a week.
With plenty of work environments to choose from, there are many different types of pub or bar you can work in, ranging from local, family venues, to party joints, gastro pubs and upmarket bars so you need never get bored. You can also choose between an independent employer or one of the big boys.
If you work for a big company, you could eventually move into area manager or retail manager roles. Alternatively you could take more control of your destiny and become a pub tenant, where you take on a lease.
Money, money, money
Salaries vary depending on the size of pub and the location, but the average is around £26k to £30k. Many of the big pub companies offer generous perks, including pensions, bonuses, life assurance and, more often than not, accommodation.
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The good points...
According to Jo Fuller who has managed Benugo Bar & Kitchen at the BFI and the Serpentine Bar & Kitchen in Hyde Park: "Bars are a fun environment to work in and you’ll meet weird and wonderful people from all around the world. I’ve been lucky to work in central London venues where I’ve rubbed shoulders with famous people, too. You’ll keep fit with all the running around and you get to try new products first".
...and the bad
"The long and unsociable hours are the worst part of the job. It can be a real problem if you aren’t single and you have a partner who works a 9 to 5 job. Sore feet and back ache from being on your feet all the time also comes with the territory."
Unsociable hours, managing transient staff and being on your feet for much of your shift requires bags of energy too.
Is there study involved?
Experience counts for a lot in this business; if you’ve worked in a bar and served customers, you’re already a great candidate. On top of this, the best bar managers are outgoing, positive and, most importantly, hands on – you could be sorting out a blocked toilet one minute and negotiating with suppliers the next.
You’ll need to prove knowledge of health & safety regulations but, aside from this, the only formal qualification you’ll need is:
- The National Certificate for Personal Licence Holders from the British Institute of Innkeepers
If you’d prefer a little more structure to your career progression, large chains invest in management training programmes, so consider enrolling.
Need additional qualifications? Find a course at our Learning Zone
OK, I'm interested... But is it really the job for me?
This is a job for a people person as you’ll be interacting with folk from all walks of life. You’ll also need to be energetic and have a good head for business to stay in business. Being in touch with bar culture and trends will also greatly help you understand what your customers want.