Fraser’s 24 years of work in 125 years of Venners
24 years ago, almost to the day, I was sitting in a hotel lounge drinking coffee and having a catch up with a long lost relative. At least that’s what it felt like. It was labelled as an interview, but it was actually a very relaxed introduction to “This is what we do at Venners”.
Fraser Bowie – Stocktaker in the North & Scotland Region
For the previous four years I had been stocktaking in local pubs and clubs, taking the count sheets back to an office and then posting the result back to the client, sometimes a week or two later. The idea of laptops, results on the day, variety of work, etc, was a world away from what I was used to and so I jumped at the offer. The ‘interview’ concluded with a statement, which I thought at the time, must be untrue, but it was one I will never forget. “No one ever leaves”.
My first day on the job was equally relaxed. A bowling centre 10 minutes from my house, accompanied by my new Area Manager to start training. There was always someone on the end of the phone if I had a question. A couple of years in, just as I was settling into a nice routine with regular work and building good friendships, I received a call that changed everything. I was to take on new work using a client’s own Back Office system.
I was one of the first in my area to be trained on Checkout, which meant a sharp increase in days spent in Manchester and beyond. These days, it is very commonplace to work on a client’s system, and almost everyone is trained to some extent to find their way around them. There are some fantastic EPOS systems out there, and some not so much, both of which can turn any average day into a mental challenge, sheer frustration, but ultimately a job well done.
Moving towards the future, nothing is set in stone. 18 months ago no one was foreseeing such a blow to the whole economy, never mind the food and drink industry. Colleagues, Management, Clients have all rallied to support each other in desperate times, and I’m sure we will all bounce back better and more energetic than we were before.
It is reassuring to see so many individuals keen to get back to what we do best, taking time out to help when and if they can, and practically fighting each other to get our names onto the work sheet. It is also fantastic to be revisiting sites I have not been to since 2019, catching up with old friends, seeing how people have coped, survived and even thrived in some cases, and even just seeing the massive investment that some clients have made, both for social distancing and also to improve their units for the longer term.
Having been in the same area for so long, I have seen a lot of people come and go from the industry – Bar staff becoming Managers, Managers becoming owners, Units renamed, bought and sold to other groups, all the while still using Venners services. The names may change and some of the faces may be ageing, but the core job is still the same, if not made more, or less complicated by advances in technology.
That said, I have to say that I have lost many more colleagues from Venners to retirement and ill health, than to other jobs or industries, which makes me think that jovial interviewer from 24 years ago must have known what he was talking about.
Stocktaker in the North & Scotland Region