Meet Andy McLaren, a fantastic Deputy Manager based at The Triplekirks, Aberdeen. Andy shares his perspective on his 6 years with Stonegate Group and his rapid progression, from part-time bartender to Deputy Manager. He’s poised to take on his first General Manager appointment, following a successful stint on Stonegate’s award-winning development programme.
Can you tell us what a typical day in your role looks like?
I am the current stock, fraud, and Rep.com (our guest feedback software) champion for my area. So, I continuously check, reply to, and post incentives for named reviews. I am responsible for checking the ‘clear and void’ reports via our tills and have a weekly leader board for the team. Stock take occurs every Monday with line checks daily and I post the results on our staff chat and team boards in the staff room. I also ensure the team follow the guest service cycle, with a hello to every customer and coach the next generation of ATOP (Albert’s Theory of Progression – our internal development programme) staff towards greatness.
I’m also learning anything I can from my current GM in preparation for my first GM role within Stonegate. After completing Accelerator, I’m responsible for keeping the energy and morale up among the team.
Can you describe your journey with Stonegate, from where you started out to your current role?
When I came back to Stonegate in late 2021 after a 2-year break, I was a part-time bartender at The Rule in St. Andrews. I quickly progressed into a DM role within 6 months and went straight onto the Accolade course, designed for DMs with the desire and ability to progress to GM. I was signed off in January 2023.
From there, I was enrolled on the Accelerator programme in April 2023. It’s a 6-month programme created for DMs with the aim of becoming newly appointed general managers within 12 months. I then took on my first external hold at The Triplekirks in Aberdeen for 5 weeks. Loving this new venture so much, when the new GM joined in June, I opted to stay on as her deputy.
After graduating Accelerator with a 5-star award in August, my next step is to jump into my first GM role. During my appraisal in November, I was told that my current GM will be preparing me to take over her role by May 2024.
What do you enjoy most about your job?
Hospitality has been my passion since I was young. I love meeting new people and ensuring customers receive the best with each and every visit. I enjoy learning the ins and outs of each venue I’ve worked in, and love helping people realise their potential and coaching them through their own journey.
Is there anything you wish you would’ve known before starting your job?
I wish that I had been made more aware of the ATOP development programme in my previous role at Stonegate. Leaving the company for 2 years was my biggest setback, but I have no regrets, as I think I learned some valuable lessons. There are still more training programmes and courses to attend, and I look forward to continuing my ATOP journey.
What kind of skills and life lessons do you think you’ve learned while working at Stonegate?
I have learned so much through my ATOP journey that I would be typing here for hours, so the top 4 things are as follows:
- How to properly coach team members and that each person learns and listens in a different way. It’s easy to teach people but coaching them in a way that makes them shine is most important.
- Really to not get stressed about things. I used to get stressed really easily, and I wouldn’t slow down to take a breath and look at things from a different perspective. Instead of complaining about things, I see myself talking about the problems in my work life and outside of work.
- I’ve learned a lot about myself too—to take each challenge head-on and not be afraid to ask for help. For too long, I would struggle with tasks and ignore the ones I couldn’t do. Now, I have a great support system in my previous and current GM, my previous area manager, and the current holding AM, as well as the other GMs and DMs in my area. They have all really helped me reach my full potential. There’s always more to learn.
- To take a break. You really need those days off. Accelerator taught me to take 48 hours away from work and away from work chats. Once I did that, it was great. I came back so refreshed and ready for another week, so I now ensure I have little contact with work (unless important) on my days off.
What sort of advice would you give to someone looking to join your team? Are there any particular skills that you feel are needed?
No question is a stupid question. Ask for help. Listen.
We are all here to help, and we aren’t scary. Mistakes happen, and most of the time, they’re easily rectified. We are a team, sometimes a family. So, own your mistakes and learn from them together. I also think the best skills are a smile and a friendly attitude. Customers reciprocate this most of the time.
What has been your favourite memory since working at Stonegate?
My Accelerator graduation. It was amazing seeing my cohort and meeting the other 2 cohorts, as well as seeing how they’ve all progressed and hearing their journeys since starting with Stonegate. To me, it’s amazing to see even the progression from the first course of Accelerator to the final presentation.
What has been or is your biggest challenge in your role at Stonegate? How have you learned to overcome it?
I think one of the biggest challenges we see now within the industry is finding a strong core team. The late nights and unsociable hours often deter a lot of people. I think the only way to overcome it is to keep the energy high. Show people that it’s fun to work in hospitality and keep the staff motivated with rewards, incentives, and nights out. We work hard, but we can also have fun and play hard.
Can you tell us some interesting facts about yourself?
To most people, finding out I was born in Germany is very interesting. My dad was in the Air Force when I was growing up, so we moved around a lot. I think that is why I enjoy meeting new people so much. I have a natural ability to fit myself into any team or group of people.
Looking to join us? Take a look at our current vacancies and raise a glass to your future at Stonegate Group!