Living Ventures Restaurants are delighted to confirm they’ve achieved 9th place in this year’s Sunday Times Top 100 Best Companies To Work For list, up from 28th place last year.
“Each member of staff is expected to learn the company ethos verbatim…”
Stephen Coldbeck, acclaimed as Liverpool’s best waiter in 2010, says of Living Ventures: “I’ve worked in lots of companies, but the training here blows everything else out of the water. It’s one thing to have a brilliant concept, a beautifully designed restaurant but without properly trained staff that all falls apart.”
The training at this successful restaurant company and bar-operator based in Cheshire, with restaurants in Manchester, London and across the northwest is intensive. Each member of staff is expected to learn the company ethos verbatim, including such intriguing concepts as “small world”, “ticket to ride” and “the bubble bath dilemma”.
In practice, Coldbeck says, “These ideas make a lot of sense, they help people focus. Its good to sit people down and make them think these thoughts.”
Liz Sear, now Assistant General Manager at The Grill on the Alley in Manchester, underwent the management training scheme after graduating from Leeds University four years ago. She spent a year studying every aspect of the business. She also needed to be able to cook every dish on the menu. “I have to know exactly what ingredients goes into every dish,” she says. In an emergency, she explains, she could take over the role of chef.
When Sear took her job, the company told her: “Your next move is general manager.” It meant she could see a path ahead. Staff believe that the job is of great benefit (81% positive, atop-five ranking). They also feel it is good for their own development (83%) and that there are unlimited opportunities to learn and grow within the organization (74%).
Their boss, Tim Bacon, Managing Director, began as a bartender for TGI Friday’s, a fellow Best Companies to Work For. Bacon likes to “hire hard, fire easy”, and has high standards for those he employs. “Never employ someone you wouldn’t go for a drink with,” he says. One current operations manager started as a waitress. Bacon poached from a rival company. How? “We offered her a future, with a winning smile,” he laughs.
Although the average wage for waiters is £17,000, when you add the generous tips it becomes an attractive proposition. Staff feel they are paid fairly for the work they do, compared with colleagues (72%), as well as with elsewhere in the industry (70%). They also feel that they receive fair pay for the duties they undertake (70%). Perks include employees and their guests being able to dine for half price in all Living Ventures eateries.
Colleagues feel a strong sense of family (83%). Coldbeck agrees that “the teams are very tight” and says that staff retention is impressive for the industry, adding that Living Ventures is “very good at bringing people on board who do things right”.