How Alberts Pub In North Sydney Can Replace Shocking Service With Smart Systems
I recently walked into this establishment on a busy Friday, there were four vacant tables all covered in plates left over food and empty glasses.
When I asked for someone to come and clear two of these tables, the attitude was “We are busy” we will get someone over when we are free.
Then after ordering some food, the meal was served minus any utensils.
There was no “sorry” we have got no utensils or I will go and find you some utensils.
After five minutes I again walked up to the counter to ask for utensils only to be told “We are busy, we have none, you’ll have to wait”.
When I pointed out that it was plain dumb, let alone, poor service to actually serve a meal without utensils the waiter said “I don’t like your attitude “take it up with the manager”, which I did.
Seconds later a ranting raving chef from the kitchen came out claiming that “I was a whinger” who had complained earlier about the dirty tables.
“If you don’t like the service f*&k off we are busy”.
When I went back to the table the same waiter came over with the utensils he then complained that “He did not like my attitude”.
I pointed out that the fundamentals of the most basic food establishment is that firstly the tables are clean and cleared and that when a meal is actually plated and served that there is actually utensils to eat the food with.
Alberts is owned by the Calligeros Group a family Company that owns several pubs around Australia.
What my experience exposed was not about pig ignorant management and staff who really don’t give a stuff about dirty tables or poor service but the lack of intelligence and systems inside an industry that is seriously under pressure.
Blind Freddy would be able to tell you that Friday is always a busy day in North Sydney, and blind Freddy would also tell you that this is the day when your operation is going to be pushed to the limits.
A banker once told me that when it comes to delivering service and systems in Australia that they have to build and be able to cater for only six days of the year, four days before Xmas and two days after the Boxing Day sales as this is when their ATM systems are the most stretched.
Organisations like Alberts are not heeding this lesson despite the pubs and clubs industry struggling to deliver growth in Australia.
Australians’ love of eating out is growing with latest household expenditure data revealing big gains for the foodservice sector. The only problem is that consumers are not going to places like Alberts because of their attitude to service.
The Australian Bureau of Statistics Household Expenditure data shows that in percentage terms the sales for restaurants, cafes and caterers in March 2015 has increased by 12.3 per cent from March 2014 while the pub industry has struggled to grow.
At the same time the Pubs, Bars and Nightclubs industry has recorded moderate growth over the past five years.
Growth has been constrained by strong competition, volatile consumer sentiment and a dependence on gambling as a revenue earner as opposed to putting in place systems that provide intelligence that allows them to deliver better service.
Today there are several systems that deliver intelligence for people who sell food. I travel a lot and the likes of Alberts has to take the Guernsey for delivering some of the worst service and above all attitude that I have ever come across in a restaurant environment.
Even in Las Vegas during CES when there are over 175,000 CES attendees and over 2 million visitors passing through food establishments one gets service that is a vast improvement on what the likes of Alberts are dishing up for consumers.
The lack of service and good food facilities in pubs like Alberts has caused the collapse of some highly leveraged pub operators, as many consumers have swapped a bar stool for the comfort of their couch at home instead of a night in the pub with friends.
Even at Alberts on a Friday a Steak is $24 add a cider to that and there is not much change out of $30.
Pub industry revenue is expected to increase by an annualised 2.1% over the five years through 2014-15, to reach $16.5 billion which could mean that pubs who continue to deliver poor services as Alberts go out of business.
One only has to look at the difference in service levels between a well-run establishment like The Tree House in North Sydney and Alberts to realise why the Tree House is constantly packed and Alberts most evenings of the week struggles to attract patrons.
According to research group IBIS World the Pubs, Bars and Clubs industry is in the mature phase of its life cycle. The industry enjoyed a growth phase between the mid-1990s and the mid-2000s, underpinned by the introduction of gaming machines in many venues.
IBIS said that this trend is ending, with mounting community and political opposition to gaming machines expected to result in regulation that will stifle growth in this segment.
Back in 2007 the Sydney Morning Herald reported that when the owner of Alberts Peter Calligeros picks up the paper in the morning it’s usually with a touch of dread, not knowing which particular story is going to be the latest unexpected pressure on his pub business
Calligeros cites external pressures outside his control as the biggest challenge facing his business, which also comprises the century-old Rag and Famish Hotel, and the Mount Street Terrace hotel both in North Sydney, and also includes the Bargo pub, near Wollongong and a recently added establishment in Brisbane.
It appears by the attitude of his management at Alberts that they don’t share the same sentiment as their owner who was quoted as saying
“I like to walk into all my pubs and have people sitting at the public bar say ‘G’day Pete, how are you going?’ I like that whether it’s out at Bargo or in North Sydney.
Maybe if he walked into Alberts more often he would realise that he desperately needs intelligence to give him a heads up that he needs to buy more knives and forks than the meals he serves or that when a meal is actually being delivered to a tablet that his wait staff actually take a knife and fork with them as opposed to dumping a meal on a table and expecting the customers to use their fingers to eat.
Then again the Rag and Famish is one of the oldest pubs in Sydney so maybe the model is still back in in the 1860’s when eating off a plate with ones fingers was an established practise.