My Big Achievement
When I was 21 I joined The Swan in Milton Keynes as assistant manager. It was a Punch pub back then (later joined the Peach stable) and a really nice site with a lovely big eatery. I learned so much about delivering great customer service there - we won the Best Customer Service Award for three years running, had three mystery diners in a row giving us 100 per cent and I was Highly Commended as a Food Pub Manager in the PubChef Awards last year.
How I got here
Hospitality has always been a part of my life. I started waitressing in a local café when I was 12, although I probably shouldn’t have been. As soon as I left school I joined a restaurant in South Devon as a waitress, and was made supervisor when I turned 17. By 18 I had my own licence and took over as duty manager of the pub.
When my brother, Lee Cash, started up Peach Pubs he urged me to get involved with the business, but I wanted to have a go at doing the job somewhere else for myself, to prove I could handle being a manager on my own steam. It wasn’t for another two years that I eventually joined Peach at The Fleece in Witney, Oxford as a trainee manager.
I was there for over a year before I moved to The Swan. It took me just three years to become general manager – I was the youngest in the group. Only very recently did a position at The Old Mill in Berkhamsted come up. I’d been at The Swan for four years, and wanted a new challenge. I’ve been here for just three days now, but I’m really enjoying it. It’s a bigger site than The Swan, about 50 covers more, and I’m finding it much busier already.
The most valuable things I’ve learned
How to deal with staff and motivate them is the most important skill I’ve learned. Most of them are travelling and its not what they want to do for the rest of their lives, so you’ve got to enthuse them to have the same amount of passion as those people who want to do it forever. We spend a lot of time doing training with our wine, food and coffee suppliers, and we give them some authority to give them a sense of ownership.
Another thing is good customer service. Welcoming customers is really important, and a simple ‘hello’, even if you’re busy, goes a long way. At Peach we have a handbook that every member of staff follows so we can achieve consistent standards across the estate.
My biggest regret
I wish I had joined Peach sooner. It’s an amazing company that really values its staff and their training, and completely different to any other I’ve worked at before.
I’ve been discussing with Lee and Hamish (Stoddart, co-owner of Peach) about eventually becoming a staff trainer for new sites when they open. We would be able to keep the consistency of service and standards going because there will be people working there who aren’t familiar with the Peach brand values yet. Obviously I’ve just joined The Old Mill, so I’ll probably move over in a year’s time. I want to get this site a PubChef award first.