Podcast My Business

Published: 06 September 2023

Tune in to Podcast My Business where host Tony Skinner engages in a captivating conversation with Andrew Lewis, the CEO of Allara Learning and Allara Global, as well as the owner of Leonards Bar & Bistro.

Drawing on his extensive background in hospitality training, Andrew offers critical insights into the growing interest in hospitality training and the growth of Allara Global.

Don't miss this episode with Andrew Lewis on Podcast My Business.

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Podcast script

Tony skinner  00:13
And today we’re joined by Andrew Lewis, there we go for every time when you press that record button, one of us is going to make a mistake. Andrew Lewis from Allara Global, How are you, Andrew?

Andrew  00:31
Very well, Tony and yourself.

Tony skinner  00:33
Very good. And so we’ve got the first stumble out of the way that is always a traditional side, it’s fine. Exactly. Look, I got you on the show because you do a lot of hospitality or hospo training is also known as, and you’ve got a particular focus on young people. And I worked in hospitality a long time ago, and I did end up at five-star hotels where they do a lot of training because I know how important it is. But we’re talking just before about that Mid Tier level doesn’t seem to have a lot of training there. And that’s really a passion of yours is to help with that. So how do you go about that?

Andrew  01:12
Yeah, absolutely. I think it was always forgotten in the hospitality was that materials are really explaining earlier, that five-star hotel accommodation side always had a real focus on training because I think people sort of tended to gravitate to that if they were going to have a career in hospitality. And I think that that is lower mid-tier hospitality is was sort of the forgotten, forgotten space for a career path, or people could progress or, you know, go places within that sector of the hospitality.

Andrew  01:43
And I always thought that there was a big opportunity to sort of educate people and train people to realize that there actually is a career path in hospitality outside your top tier hotels. So we sort of really focused on that mid tier when we first started the business and giving people the skills to develop. And I think what we hear mostly from the industry is how do we attract, retain and grow talent, so they’re probably the three key points, all HR or owners will be discussing with us as and how do we do that.

Andrew  02:16
And I think education creates a big part of that. So you know, you’ve got proper education, you can give people a funnel or career path moving forward, or the skills to progress within the industry, you’re always going to be that step ahead. And I think we are dealing majority is a casual workforce.

Andrew  02:34
But I think we’ve got to get rid of that casual mentality in the way that we treat our staff, we’ve got to treat them like professionals. And then you know, you may find a few identify some talent that you can take with you and progress into your supervisors, your managers. And then we can start creating a whole funnel of career paths within the hospitality space, which I think it really lacks in that what we said that middle-tier market.

Andrew  02:56
So we’ve worked in this space for a while, before I started Allara Global, we had a training organization, which we trained people at entry level right up to managerial level. And then that thing sort of COVID came along. And with that, we sort of were quite agile and moved to put a lot online and started creating a lot of microlearning e-learning modules, which would help get consistency across groups and be able to get their message out have a library of learning curated by some of the best people in the industry that help these not only the individuals grow personally within their jobs, but help the businesses give the individuals the skills to come into the workforce.

Andrew  03:36
Obviously, in hospitality, there is an element of face-to-face and practical stuff that needs to be done. But if we can create a library of content that assists in that journey, it works really well. And we’ve, you know, we’ve created quite a comprehensive library now. And we’re in you know, we’re in well over 1000 venues globally at the moment. So it’s and it’s been had a massive uptake. And it’s not only been a big uptake, domestically, we’re seeing a big uptake internationally as well.

Andrew  03:36
Because I think what we see now is we had a very labor shortage in the space, the labor shortage is not so much there anymore, people coming back to work in hospitality, but they’re coming back very green, or they don’t have the skill. So we need to be able to identify and skill them up as quickly as we can.

Tony skinner  04:29
When we’re talking about mid-tier, we covered the top tier, the five stars, and I guess the below mid-tier, if we want to be diplomatic about it. Yeah, little cafes. So what do you regard as mid-tier?

Andrew  04:45
Well, I think mid mid tier would probably be 20 employees plus, right? Yeah, the ones generally under that mind power run, where they’re sort of doing their 100 hours each and really between themselves in their in their business.

Andrew  05:01
The other one where they employed staff and you know, that critical mass of 15 20, it gets a bit too much to be over trained as, as an owner operator, that’s where you can tap into some of the resources of resources that were created or resources out there to help educate those people within that space. So I would say it’s probably based around an employee number level. But yeah, generally it’s been for all our clients would have 20 plus staff. Right. So then some of them have 5000  but yeah, majority would have 20 plus.

Tony skinner  05:42
Yeah. Okay. Well, that’s what we’re talking about that the cafes and the mom and pop operations, because there’s lots of cafes out there.

Andrew  05:50
Yeah, there are, and you know, what, they, they do an amazing job, because they actually are invested in it heavily. They wear that owners hat. So you know, and then they do, they do tend to invest in their staff. It’s just when the staff get to a critical mass that their time and their focus can’t be on the staff the whole time. Because generally as as an owner, operator cafe, you’re doing the books, you’re doing the rostering, you’re doing the ordering, they don’t have a structure around them, or procurement team and marketing team or, you know, an accountant or book team around them.

Andrew  06:21
So they’re generally hands on to everything. But once they get a bit over those staff, then they obviously, that’s when obviously third parties can come in and help and assist with training that staff.

Tony skinner  06:32
Well, that’s good, because I mean, you did touch on over COVID. And there was shortages over COVID. Because I think it was the employers themselves were spoiled, because I had so many people coming from overseas into Australia that had lots of hospitality training, because in Europe, it is a profession. Yeah, absolutely. Australia, lots of people don’t realize that there’s a professional career path there. And that was spoiled by all these people coming over there now disappeared. And then what does this mean that we now have to actually start training our stuff?

Andrew  07:04
Yeah, 100 percent you’ve got to invest in your staff, as I said, is that how do we attract, retain and grow talent, and you could probably throw grow local talent into that into that mix. So it’s, it’s, it’s been a problem, it’s been a problem pre COVID as well, because obviously, we had a lot of, as you said, overseas students, backpackers, they weren’t creating longevity within the business, they might stay for six months, they might say the 12 months, they’ll follow in the tunnel, the seasons, or whatever that may be, it was very hard to create a pathway for these people, they sort of felt the gap at the lower level that you couldn’t really invest time into them when you knew that I’m moving on in three months.

Andrew  07:45
It sort of was yeah, how do we get that local talent change that mentality that you know, there is a career path here there is there is big jobs just outside of pouring beers or working behind the bar or washing plates, you know, there’s massive procurement jobs in the big organizations.

Andrew  08:01
There’s marketing jobs, there’s accounting roles. There’s lots to the hospitality industry, I just outside what we perceived is dropping plates and pouring beers. So I think the more we can educate the young people coming through and give them that professional onboarding, educational and give them an option for a pathway is going to change the mentality of the industry.

Tony skinner  08:29
Yeah. And look, it can be good. And I know, I was helping to run the kitchens there and run the restaurants and whatever. I was there for five years. So I was able to move around, fortunately. But you know, the hours are long. Money can be an interesting topic, but it’s so much fun.

Andrew  08:48
Yeah, you know what I love about it, really. And I always say to people, that you if you’re in between jobs, you’re not quite sure of what you want to do.

Andrew  08:56
Hospitality is the best place to start. It’s, it opens up your communication skills, you’ve got to deal, you become a real team player, you don’t turn up, you really let your team down. You learn to deal with conflict, you get to read and deal with different types of people every day. So you know, you think those four things or five things I’ve just mentioned, if you’re going to go down any leadership org and find out what great leaders have, they all have those traits.

Andrew  09:22
So it really instills in people, a good foundation for any career. Obviously, we’d like to keep them in hospitality. But there’s a lot of people that really I’m not really sure what to do. And it is it’s unskilled, right. So you don’t need a degree to come in and work in hospitality or you don’t need to study the university.

Andrew  09:28
But I think what you can learn on the job, and now especially that they have a lot of the groups and operators and single to multiple are investing in their staff and realizing the importance of their staff. It’s a great career and it does teach a great cook great tools to take anywhere. And as you know, it’s global, right so It’s very generic on what we do if I’m here to anywhere around the world. So it’s a unique industry. And I think it’s probably one that’s overlooked by a lot of people. As you know, I’d like a career in it.

Tony skinner  10:14
Yeah, absolutely. I’m having a look on your website. So that’s I’m looking at the beverage courses, or what have you. There is the RSA and things like that? So everyone does that. But there’s much more than that.

Andrew  10:34
Yeah, 100%, I mean, RSA is probably a ticket box to get into the job. And, obviously, you know, it’s a legislative decision. And I think it’s very important, you don’t want to be getting people to drunk. So that’s always going to be there.

Andrew  10:47
So we create a lot of content that, you know, people that just want to keep on learning or have the opportunity or want to grow or want to know about the knowledge of advanced rum or advanced vodka or gin or, you know, even tonic water or whatever the courses are, or you know how to set up a bar, anything. So we’re always creating content that’s going to enhance not only the business, but the individuals as well.

Andrew  10:47
But that’s, that’s what I would call compliance, I think, where there’s so much more getting into the soft skills and the knowledge around the whole hospitality sector and what makes up that sector. Which is really exciting. So we have, we have dedicated training plans within the platform of Allaraglobal but we also have a widget at the bottom is explore your own content.

Tony skinner  11:30
And I’m having a look at this one here. Advanced cocktail knowledge now. Yes, I did work in the cocktail bar for a while. Now. I won a cocktail competition with a cocktail. Was it pineapple juice, Midori, can’t rememebr what else was in there? But cream? Reality is cocktail drinkers tend to be female. And to like them sweet. There are other cocktails available as well. Yes. Yeah.

Tony skinner  12:03
And it’s only 40 minutes to do the advanced cocktail knowledge course.

Andrew  12:07
Yeah, it’ll be broken down into modules. I bet there’ll be courses around that expand into that, like, we’re not going to give you the whole practical parts of making cocktails, but I, I will, because I think there’s still a massive element, as I said, as in face to face that goes with that.

Andrew  12:22
They’re very heavy in liquor and very strong, very masculine in probably in the in the way that they’re made. So I think yeah, the market has definitely changed. And there’s a lot of like, the mixologist that out there and spend time and their knowledge about you know, how often and how long you shake it for to aerate the drink and put the right amount of ice into it to distill the very, very complicated.

Andrew  12:22
But cocktail drinking is actually growing. And that’s with non non-alcoholic and alcoholic so your mocktails and your cocktails and that that market is very strong at the moment. And I think, as you said, that perception of that sweet, I’m gonna go with my girlfriend or my wife and she’s gonna order a sweet cocktail has definitely changed like a lot of you look at you know, negronis or old fashions.

Tony skinner  13:17
Yeah, well, I’m having negronis on Friday. So there you go. There you go. Beautiful. Yep. so I just wanted to touch on. Okay, so we’ve got the movie cocktail. So do you have to be able to spin and throw things in the air to be good at making cocktails?

Andrew  13:35
No, absolutely not. Like, I don’t know. I mean, I think it’s, look, it’s a bit of theater. And I have always said being behind the bar is a bit of a stage. And I think you should make it your stage because you’ve got an audience. That’s fun. That’s fun conversations.

Andrew  13:49
And you do have the ability to do but I, I wouldn’t recommend it unless you really knew what you were doing. And I don’t think it’s a prerequisite of getting a job. And it’s good fun. The people that are very good at it. It’s very entertaining to watch.

Tony skinner  14:05
What I remember it was, you know, getting food from the kitchen to the guests and drinks and what have you. It was always a matter of pride. Getting there in time well presented, and clean done. The guest is very, very happy. So I think that’s one of the key things about being in hospitality is that we do get the element of pride. Yeah, absolutely.

Andrew  14:27
And that customer satisfaction, we create experiences, people are coming out for an experience. So you know, everyone can still cook at home or everyone can still buy the bottle of wine and you probably going to serve them in the restaurant at home if they really had enough or dabble with a cocktail if they wanted to.

Andrew  14:42
But people generally come out for an experience. So we sort of we do we do create experiences. And I think it’s like as I said those tools about any business, any business or learning five, if you’ve got happy customers, right? Because we need customers to create a business. So we’ve got to do that. And I think hospitality teaches that very well because it’s very transactional. If someone’s not happy, they tell you straight away. In other businesses, they just might not come back. Or they might be you know, you can tell if someone’s generally not happy within the hospitality space when you’re serving them.

Tony skinner  15:17
Now, just having a look at your website again, so is a barista a big course or can anybody become a barista?

Andrew  15:28
A barista takes a lot of practical the theory behind it but yeah, there’s definitely a lot of practical of going and as you know that, that’s traditional cappuccino and latte is now there’s 1000s of them again, they’ve become a bit it’s a bit like the mixologist, there’s competitions in, in barista during, you know, creating patterns, all that sort of stuff.

Andrew  15:50
And it is it is a skill that is very sought after is a course that if I would recommend anyone that was looking to get into hospitality and had a bit of a passion around that coffee barista is very sought after.

Tony skinner  16:06
Cool. So is there anything else you wanted to add?

Andrew  16:09
Um, nothing really, I just, I love the hospitality space, and I’m passionate about and I suppose that probably, you know, I’m lucky that I go into an industry that I love. And then I have the opportunity each day to enrich people’s lives with either giving them the skills to get into employment, or giving them the skills to grow within employment.

Andrew  16:31
So, you know, I’m pretty lucky in that space. And you get to meet a great, diverse sort of workforce from, you know, very entry level, unskilled up to people that are, you know, actually industry experts and have worked their way up. So it’s been, yeah, it’s an it’s an industry that we’re passionate about. I think it’s an industry that everyone that works in the organization is how to dabble in hospitality. And if they haven’t, they’re very passionate about it, and like dining out or going and having a drink or, you know, just being around people. So I think it’s, for me, that’s the most, most important element.

Tony skinner  17:06
And I think that’s probably a part of the secret of your success with all your growth that you’ve had is that passion is coming across pretty clearly.

Andrew  17:13
Yeah, absolutely. And I think, you know, you would talk to anyone that’s, you know, industries and succeeded in it, they’ve got to love what they’re doing. You got to love what you do, and you’ve got to love to see the outcomes of what you’re trying to achieve.

Andrew  17:25
And when that sort of starts or flowing in the right direction, then you know, then it sort of becomes a bit unstoppable. So you just you just keep growing.

Tony skinner  17:34
Yeah, definitely stay getting the hospitality and have some fun, especially when you’re young. There’s, you’ve got time you’ve got energy to start making some money. Enjoy.

Andrew  17:45
Yeah, 100% Absolutely. And the good thing is you’re gonna learn skills that you can take anywhere.

Tony skinner  17:52
Cool. All right. Well, thanks for that, Andrew. So that’s Andrew from and thanks for listening.

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