Bars, clubs and pubs: area of work

You'll need great customer service skills for a graduate career in licensed retailing.

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Licensed retailing is a service industry where emphasis is on exceeding customer expectations. As a manager, your responsibilities could include working behind the bar, public relations, dealing with accounts and purchasing stock, as well as hiring, firing and training staff. Gaining managerial experience in this field also opens up the possibility of owning your own bar, or chain of bars, in this country or abroad.

This article was last updated before the start of the pandemic in 2020. Due to Covid-19, you may find it difficult to gain work or experience in this industry for the time being. As we explain in this article, however, recruiters will not view this period as a 'gap' in your CV. You may want to use this time to gain some CV-worthy skills, though – if this is the case, take a look at some career-friendly activities you can carry out while social distancing for inspiration.

Working environment

Pubs, clubs and bars sell ‘a good time’ as much as they sell food and drink. You will have to be aware of customer needs and cater for them to make the establishment (whether it’s a trendy club, traditional pub or themed bar) a success in a competitive market. In any role you’ll be required to work evenings and weekends and you’ll meet a variety of people.

Getting in and getting on

Attracting new customers and then retaining their business is the main aim of licensed retailing. A friendly and sociable personality, along with excellent communication and interpersonal skills, are the most important prerequisites for working in bars, clubs and pubs.

Being business-savvy will help you to stay ahead of the competition, while patience and diplomacy are vital when dealing with difficult or impatient customers. These qualities also help in management roles, when you’ll need to balance the needs of your staff with those of your customers.

Smaller employers tend to favour personal qualities over qualifications but a range of courses and training schemes are available. A degree in a subject such as business, finance, management or hospitality management will be beneficial when looking for promotion. There are also graduate schemes available with large employers, which often require a good degree.

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