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Improve your wine knowledge with Woodford Bourne

Most people in the local hospitality scene will know of the inimitable Denis Broderick. Denis is a walking encyclopaedia of wine knowledge and now his employers Woodford Bourne are offering those involved with the hospitality industry a chance to gain a little of Denis’ knowledge.

With the help of specialist wine trainer Denis, Woodford Bourne are offering local hospitality staff the opportunity to train for the well-established and internationally recognised Wine & Spirit Education Trust (WSET) qualification.

The company propose to facilitate Foundation and Intermediate levels, arranging the one and two-day courses at suitable venues across the province.

As further incentives, Woodford Bourne will subsidise the total cost price by assisting with venues and course materials, refund successful participants with 30% of the actual course fee and award a case of mixed premium wines to the best candidate over the year.

Locally, there is no one better to train staff than Denis Broderick. Having recently celebrated clocking up 50 years service within the hospitality industry, he has the wit, knowledge and personality to make any training scheme a success.

Denis values the importance of combining training with on-the-job experience. Having initially begun his career at the Royal Hotel in Bangor, he combined this with a variety of training schemes, going on to spend three years at college in Portrush learning all aspects of the hospitality industry. Denis explains: “That balance of college and industry, I always felt was the only way. When I later went on to work as a trainer, it was a similar approach, a lot of time in college mixed with industry time.

“The reality of the industry, especially in today’s world, is that there’s not a lot of spare time, everything has been cut back so you’re really getting on with the delivery of what you’re there to do. The actual time for putting a bit of polish to your learning doesn’t really happen.

“This programme has this balance, that’s the perfect recipe. One on its own doesn’t really work as well. If you’re coming through a pure academic route sometimes the academic slant doesn’t really match up with the industry. When you’re in the real world, you’re only going to be shown the gospel to that particular establishment and not necessarily how you would do things in different situations, with different customer profiles and budgets.

“It’s all about keeping that balance, that’s why a lot of what we are looking at in terms of trying to promote wine is working that way.

“If you really spend a bit of time with people, there’s an investment there, staff are more efficient and you’re getting greater customer satisfaction which hopefully will lead to more customers. The efficiency side of things is about improving your turnover, from a restaurant and wine side of things you will be selling more so hopefully that will improve the bottom line.”

Denis certainly knows what he is talking about when it comes to anything hospitality related. Recalling his experiences he adds: “The great thing about having 50 years experience is having tried and tested different things and knowing what has and hasn’t worked. I’ve been lucky to have worked in a lot of industry environments in a lot of overseas countries with different types of staff profiles, from prisoners in a jail in Canada, various African tribes through to billionaires in Saudi Arabia.

“What motivates people depends on the situation and environment they are in but usually what I’ve found is that almost without exception, people welcome the opportunity to learn if it’s presented to them in the right fashion.

“I know some business people argue that they don’t see the point in training someone up in case they leave. My argument to that would be, in most cases people will be more likely to leave if they aren’t given opportunities. Also if someone is in the middle of being trained, they are less likely to leave. They might have a bad day or week but they’ll ride it out knowing that it’s only part of the bigger picture. You’re less likely in my opinion to lose people by putting them through a development programme than you are by doing nothing.”

Wine really is a labour of love for Denis. As he explains: “Wine with me was really a hobby converted into a job. When you have that passion, you can see how much as an individual you can get out of wine knowledge, not just from a work point-of-view but even every day you can learn so much through wine.

“It means money both for the business and the seller – there’s probably no easier way of making tips, there’s a pay back, it gives the opportunity to satisfy the customer.”

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