King George Bed & Breakfast

Give Me a Good Attitude

“I will take attitude over knowledge and skills every time,” says Sara MacInnis, owner/operator of the King George B&B. She is so pleased with her employees that completed the Ready to Work pilot project called the Food and Beverage Service Program in Miramichi, New Brunswick. Their positive attitudes have been a great addition to the B&B, and to the appreciation of guests and the customer service experienced during guests’ stays. How to demonstrate a good attitude in the workplace is one of the key learning points in the Ready to Work program offered by the Tourism Industry Association of New Brunswick (TIANB).

In 2010, TIANB partnered with Enterprise Miramichi and the Workplace Essential Skills program of the New Brunswick Government’s department of Post-Secondary Education, Training and Labour to deliver a program that focused on essential skills training and the food and beverage industry. The pilot project began with planning sessions that included Miramichi employers. The next step involved recruiting suitable participants looking for a career in the food and beverage industry.

Successful applicants attended the Ready to Work Food and Beverage Service Program for 12 weeks. The first half of the program was spent in the classroom enhancing essential skills, learning the knowledge, skills and attitudes needed in the tourism industry generally, and in the food and beverage industry specifically. During their classroom training, students were provided with mandatory training, such as food safety and responsible beverage. Sara is impressed that the students earned national, provincial and course-specific certifications as part of the program. This reduces resources that employers need to invest in new staff.

During week six, the students were eased into work placements. Two of the students were placed at the King George B&B. The program covers the cost of the 120 hours of work placement—again a significant benefit to the employer.

Sara admits that when she provided job descriptions to program organizers for the two positions at her property, she didn’t have high expectations. However, she was pleasantly surprised at the extent to which the two program graduates contributed to her operation. As a result, she offered them both permanent work.

Caroline joined the King George as a hostess. She had been working as a geologist but wanted to leave the oil patch and find employment in her home community, hoping to eventually be an event planner. For Caroline, the timing was perfect; the B&B was moving into its murder mystery season and Sara was thankful to have help planning those events. Caroline continues to help plan events, such as weddings and family celebrations.

Jamie joined the King George as a chef. Prior to the program, he had been doing food preparation at an institutional kitchen with few training opportunities and little hope of a rewarding career. Jamie was pretty much “a meat-and-potato guy” when he first entered the B&B’s kitchen, but Sara encouraged him to try new recipes and ingredients—which he has willingly done with great success.

Jamie’s good attitude and essential skills training allowed him to convert recipes for the first time. During Jamie’s work placement, Sara asked him to do the calculations required to convert a recipe from six to fourteen people. They reviewed some tips for recipe conversions together and Sara showed him the metric and imperial conversion charts in the kitchen. Using the tools and information, Jamie was successfully able to do the recipe conversions.

When asked about training gaps in the program, Sara cannot think of any. She thinks students graduate with a great foundation for work in the food and beverage industry. Using this base, they can then expand their knowledge and skills in their specific roles in the workplace.

Sara feels that the best thing that came out of her experience with the Ready to Work Food and Beverage Service Program was the ability to meet her customer service standards. She knows that an important part of the B&B experience for guests is having opportunities to visit with their hosts. “As an operator, you can work yourself into a frenzy and have no time for guests.” That will not lead to success. What will is alternating hosting roles with staff so that someone is getting the background work done while someone is spending time with guests. She and her staff are able to achieve this. Having staff with a positive, customer-oriented attitude is essential in providing good hospitality.