Situated on the periphery of Manchester Airport, The Firbank Pub & Kitchen is an example of a British Pub at its best. Since 1995, the Wythenshawe pub has been under the ownership of Simon and Rachael Delaney who have been instrumental in growing the business into the hub of the community.
Despite major setbacks, where the pub was subjected to three arson attacks in 2015, The Firbank recently celebrated one of its most successful years to date. At the Great British Pub Awards 2016, The Firbank claimed the award for the ‘Best Community Pub’ and also won ‘Business in the Community’ at the Manchester City Council’s Be Proud Awards.
The Firbank’s success as a community pub is down to a number of reasons. Over many years of dedication and hard work, Simon and Rachael have built strong community links to engage the people of Wythenshawe. Where many pubs have a strong focus on attracting the over 40s, The Firbank reaches out to everyone in the community. From comedy night to community lunch, the pub is home to a number of events, which have become its trademark speciality.
“To be a true community pub, it’s important you extend your reach to everyone in the neighbourhood. That’s what we do,” explained Simon. “For us, events play an important role in engaging with all people of all ages. During the week, we host events where the eldest customer is 101, and at the weekend it’s as young as 18.”
Thanks to a strong emphasis on staff training, The Firbank is renowned for ‘going the extra mile’. Simon focuses on recruiting young people from the local area and builds core skills through extensive online training. This approach to training means that new starters understand the importance of customer service from the onset.
Simon explained: “I have a strong focus on recruiting young, inexperienced staff. We concentrate on building their skills through the e-learning site licence from CPL Online. Before they even touch the bar, I ensure my staff complete seven online courses. I could have all of the knowledge in the world, but a structured training programme covers all areas. It stands out by a mile when places don’t take training seriously. For us, training is our number one priority. It’s crucial in going that extra mile for the customer.”
After suffering in 2015 and celebrating in 2016, Simon and Rachael’s determination to overcome barriers and achieve success is nothing short of remarkable. As they look to build on their reputation as a community pub, Simon was recently announced as a local ambassador and shows no signs of slowing down.
“We’ll continue to drive in the same direction,” said Simon. “At the moment, our events are always maxed out, but it’s important for us to maintain high levels of service and avoid complacency. I think that’s where many businesses go wrong. Sometimes when businesses reach the top of their game, they relax and lose focus. I’m not relaxing. The pub trade is a tough industry to be in, and without passion and dedication, it won’t work. I’ll continue to keep pushing the boundaries and exceed customers’ expectations.”