Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Interesting point Nigel. Another sharp angle on the myriad failings on the institution that is the Great British PubCo.

In my case my PubCo is S&NPE. They advertise industry leading training in all aspects of the trade. I have asked consistently over the decade they have been my Freeholder for any kind of training support they could offer as countervailing benefit to me. I have been promised cellar training for staff, product training, management training and none of it has ever materialised. One BDM went on and on about some famous brewer coming to do training for S&NPE, how he is such a charismatic man who knows the products so well, how S&NPE regard it a coup to have him come and do this for them and so on until I was begging to get signed up with him for a day. That never materialised either. I can;t remember the excuse but it didn't surprise me.

Two whole day training events did come up in all that time both, I think, to do with the 2003 licensing reform. The events were held at places like Crawley - near the M25 for ease of getting to - which made it really difficult for me to get to, being in central London, but I suppose it might have made sense for other licensees. I kind of think it;s easier for a whole load of people to get into central London than a whole load of people to meet on one side of the metropolis where, I'm sure, it's very easy for the trainers to reach because they come from Derby or Leeds or somewhere like that. However I did reluctantly force myself to attend a day's seminar in Richmond because I wanted to see the quality of training, the opportunity to tell myself that I'm just a cynic when it comes to THEM trying to teach me anything of use to me, and then there was perhaps the chance to meet other S&NPE licensees who were in the same boat and I could sound them out to see if was alone in thinking I was getting a raw deal and whether S&NPE gave support to others while denying me support because they had somehow singled me out as a troublemaker - a bit of subversive networking.

The day was about the ramifications of licensing reform and how to lay out applications to th elocal authority. It was interesting in parts but I learned little and, besides, I had already completed all my Grandfather rights applications and was just waiting for plans from S&NPE - which they insited on and said was a free service (I had already booked my plans for being drawn up privately but was swayed because the OSM said the plans were being produced for all pubs anyway and would be free).

There was a fascinating moment in the day where the course leader was talking about employers' responsibilities toward their employees and the European Working Time Directive and pointing out how important it is to get consent if they are regularly working more than 48 hours a week. He was being very jolly and upbeat through all of his delivery until I suggested it was interesting that he was so keen to point this aspect of legislation out to us as employers but that S&NPE was entirely happy to draw up a profit & loss projection on the rent review for a lessees' pub where it indicated a wages bill that meant the pub couple would have to be working 60-80 hours a week to stay inside the projected profit that laid out the rent. He immediately changed tone and snarled something at me like "The Working Time Directive doesn't apply to entrepreneurs who are investing time in their own business for their own benefit. That shut me up. The last time I witnessed that tone of voice and delivery from an S&NPE employee was when Peter Morris tore a strip off me at their head office in Staines. No one else in the room, apart from my business partner, really cottoned on to what had happened.

I was genuinely impressed at just how deep the BDM school of rhetoric extended through the empire. In retrospect, as so often, I wish I'd had the presence of mind to stand up to this seminar giver and pull him apart.

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