#114 - Hospitality Meets Rob Byrom - The Luxury Care Home Hospitality Provider - Hospitality Meets... with Phil Street

Episode 114

#114 - Hospitality Meets Rob Byrom - The Luxury Care Home Hospitality Provider

I am absolutely thrilled to unleash this weeks episode as todays guest, and the sector in which he operates, do not get nearly enough exposure as an area of Hospitality.

I was delighted to get some time with Rob Byrom, Group Hospitality Services Manager at Hallmark Care Homes, a leading luxury care provider (https://www.hallmarkcarehomes.co.uk/)

As usual, we get through loads including:-

  • Beards
  • Busting some care home myths
  • Starting out as a laborer
  • Making the move to hotels
  • Discovering care
  • Moving through departments
  • Enjoying what you do
  • The power of Reception
  • What is Care?
  • Climbing the ranks
  • Redundancy
  • Hallmark
  • The Job of a Group Hospitality Services Manager
  • Team bonding

And so much more. Rob is naturally warm throughout our chat and he's on a mission to shine a light on the care sector as a prominent force within the world of hospitality.

Enjoy!

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Transcript

00:00.00

philjstreet

Hello and welcome to the next episode of hospitality meets with me your host Phil Street now when I started this podcast one of the objectives was to showcase all of the different career paths and sectors available within the the wonderful world of hospitality today. We add add. Another string to that boat as we move into hospitality within care. Not only that we've gone to None of the very best care providers and managed to get some time with the awesome and candidate for beard of the year Rob Byrom from Hallmark Care Homes, Rob welcome to the show.

00:33.81

Rob Byrom

hi there Phil how are you doing? Yeah very well. Thank you thanks very much for having me.

00:37.97

philjstreet

How are you? Yeah no problem at all, You let's get the beard out the way quickly. It is a belter and for those who are listening to this I'm sorry you're missing a something a piece of absolute beauty.

00:53.70

Rob Byrom

Thank you very much. She has lot lot of time and effort goes into that but and I appreciate your comments.

00:56.90

philjstreet

Yeah, yeah, wicked excellent so where are you today where are you recording from.

01:05.19

Rob Byrom

I'm actually working from home this morning and then I'm going over to one of our care homes Hutton view this afternoon.

01:10.13

philjstreet

Right? Okay, yeah, so we'll we'll definitely. We'll come on to a hallmark as we progress through the conversation. We'll learn a a little bit more about what you you guys? do I was introduced to you guys I think what's pre-covid

01:27.15

Rob Byrom

Yeah

01:28.86

philjstreet

Sort of time help helped you guys find a couple of people through the business. Um, and I think it's safe to say that I had some vision of what being in care was within hospitality. Um and and having visited one of your sites. Yeah I've thought that. Myth was busted very very quickly.

01:50.54

Rob Byrom

Yeah I think um, there is a lot of thoughts behind care homes and I think to a certain extent. We're a little bit stuck in our old ways. Especially if you've never entered sort of a care home as such or maybe. A care home. That's not quite sort of the standard of maybe a hallmark home or or many other high-end Providers. We do sort of have that bad image in our minds. Don't we um I must admit I was exactly the same you know before I started working at Hallmark Um I had that vision of a care home and but again as soon as I walked in.

02:13.79

philjstreet

Um, yeah.

02:25.14

Rob Byrom

Walk walk through the doors. Um I was blown away with wow you know this is this looks like a 5 ive-star hotel this this certainly wasn't the care home I was I assumed in my head.

02:36.33

philjstreet

Yeah, totally and that was exactly it felt like a country house hotel. But um, yeah for sure. Cool. Well before you got to Hallmark was obviously there's ah, there's a whole backstory so take us all the way back to the beginning of your career. How did you get. Into hospitality in the in the none place.

02:54.68

Rob Byrom

Um, to be honest with you I fell into hospitality by mistake. Um, so growing up. Um I'd always wanted to be a builder. So my dad um has always always worked in or worked in construction for a long time. Um, and ah you know, growing up seeing him. Um, you know.

02:58.50

philjstreet

Right. Um, right.

03:13.66

Rob Byrom

Him being a role model I'd I'd wanted to follow in his footsteps to be honest and I I did I did start that. So my none job when I left school was actually a laborer um for a building company actually working with my dad and we were refurbishing 3 hotel rooms. Um. Quite locally in cheunsford um I'm I'm based in brentwood in Essex um, so we were yeah we refurbished these three hotel rooms and I got talking to the hotel team there as you do because we were there for you know, a couple of months and the deal was to either go back to sort of college or uni.

03:33.27

philjstreet

Right.

03:50.25

Rob Byrom

Or so so school or get a job with my parents that was the deal. You can't just you know leave school and not do anything. You know you've either got to carry on your education or get a job. Yeah I thought was a bit harsh at the time but looking back I thought it's pretty fair. Wasn't it to be honest, Um, so yeah, so.

03:55.46

philjstreet

Um, yeah, no gutting like it. Yeah yeah.

04:07.00

Rob Byrom

A job opportunity came up at a hotel in cheltsford. So I thought why not you know, let's let's give it a go I'm going to earn a little bit of money and and see where it goes so um, my plan was to work there for a few months you know just until I find something I really want to do with my life because I wasn't sure you know like most.

04:25.25

philjstreet

Yeah, yeah, yeah.

04:25.75

Rob Byrom

None ear old so you know you're not quite sure what you want to do with your career and and yet it went from there so I ah plan to be there for three months so I started off looking after conferences and banquets. So you know, just setting them up. Make sure they're okay, serving etc clearing down. And then eighteen months later I was still there very comfortable and realized you know I've had a great 18 months but actually you know there's no progression here. You know and I need to really start start doing something so that's when I looked into doing an apprenticeship because I didn't really want you know I was used to getting a wage. Um, and I wanted some more sort of education. Some grades behind me so I thought for me an apprenticeship was that was the best thing for me so I looked at apprenticeships and looked at business and admin and and different bits like that. So I actually ended up getting ah a business an admin apprenticeship and it was based at a care home.

05:07.47

philjstreet

Yeah.

05:23.61

Rob Byrom

In Billlariccki quite skeptical at the start and I thought well let's give it a go. You know let let's see what it's all about let's go for the interview and let let's see where it goes and I walked into hallmark at the time and not not expecting much being honest, you know, never step foot in a care I never dreamt about. Being in a care home or or working in a care home, especially but I walked in and thought wow you know this is nicer than the hotel I work in and it and it was a nice hotel and I thought wow actually I ah feel I could you know I could do something here. So um, that's where I had left the hotel.

05:44.10

philjstreet

Um, yeah. Um, right? yeah.

06:00.76

Rob Byrom

And come to work as an apprentice at Hallmark Care Home so the apprenticeship was for a year and what was great was I worked in lots of different departments and like the hotel. Um, you know the good thing about hospitality is you get it. It opens so many doors up you know hospitality is an umbrella term for me. Um, so in the hotel. For example I I started off in conferences banquets you know I also um, worked in a restaurant I worked behind the bar when I turned None um I even supported reception sometimes I jumped in the kitchen on the odd occasion when the breakfast shift didn't turn up or. Um, they might have been short on potwash or wherever it might have been but it opened you know lots of doors up. You know some I may not have enjoyed and thought actually that bit's not for me but other other areas I thought actually yeah, this is really good. You know this is this is a bit of me. So um.

06:46.23

philjstreet

Yeah. But that's half the battle isn't it especially early. Doors is just getting around as many different departments as you can because they're as you see you can't like everything so but it's about identifying the stuff that you do like and the stuff that that makes you want to get out of bed in the morning.

07:07.24

Rob Byrom

Yeah, absolutely I think and that's and that's the big thing for me, you know you need to enjoy your job to a certain extent. We all have bad days. You know, but the the good days need to outweigh them. You know, let's be realistic. So and I think in ah in a job. You've you've got to feel.

07:19.54

philjstreet

Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah.

07:27.55

Rob Byrom

sn't mean you earn you know £:

07:35.69

philjstreet

Yeah, yeah, what are still working towards that one so but it's true though. Ah the the money The money thing is um, apparently.

07:45.99

Rob Byrom

But actually you know so.

07:51.42

philjstreet

Um I can't remember but I've I've read this but I've read this many many times that money actually is a motivator for for people is generally quite far down the list like you know item 5 or 6 actually the more important things are engagement to your work.

08:00.40

Rob Byrom

Yes.

08:06.27

philjstreet

And a feeling of belonging to the people around you and your voice is heard and respected and all of these sorts of things outweigh the money the money will come Anyway, if you if you keep kind of your head down and crack on but um, but yeah anyway, sorry I take that take took you off your your story.

08:22.23

Rob Byrom

No absolute no, they completely agree. So um, so yeah, so that gave me lots of sort of knowledge and um, supported me in starting um an apprenticeship. Ah at hallmark. So my first year at hallmark being an apprentice was supporting. Every area to be honest, if you like and it it really? um, built up my knowledge for how a care home works. You know I spent time in the kitchen I spent time with the housekeeping team I spent time with the administrator. The management team and the care team. You know, literally every department within the care home. I got to see firsthand you know I got to see the great stuff I got to see the not so great stuff. You know, um, how hard they work and you know, reception etc I always use reception as ah, an example because I feel whatever job role you're in you need to appreciate. Everyone's role. So for example, the receptionist. You know if you don't know what a receptionist does you look at them all day. All they do is sit there and answer a phone every so often you know that's a lot of people's image of a receptionist. However, you know a receptionist is a huge role. You know it's such an important role. They are the None face.

09:26.40

philjstreet

Yeah.

09:38.74

Rob Byrom

You know people see they're the None voice people here. Um, you know it's a really really important role and actually that receptionist probably knows more about that home. The come ins and go ins etc than anyone else in the building. So actually when you appreciate that a bit more you have a lot more respect for them rather than just the person who sits at the desk and answer the phones every so often.

09:47.99

philjstreet

Yeah, yeah.

09:56.64

philjstreet

Yeah, totally they're they're problem. Solvers aren't they I mean that's effectively every every interaction that they have is a problem to solve and like whether that whether that is or can you direct me to where your guest XYZ is or can you direct me to the restaurant.

09:58.71

Rob Byrom

Um, so that's no. Um, absolutely.

10:16.10

philjstreet

Or I didn't like the broccoli yesterday or whatever and I used that example because when I was a receptionist with p and o that's these just just to get so many complaints about broccoli to yeah, overcooked undercooked. You name it, everything anything but.

10:25.25

Rob Byrom

Oh Wow Yeah, from the same batch as well. So yeah, and that's important you know veg is is difficult. You know everyone likes their veg slightly different.

10:33.66

philjstreet

Yeah, yeah, and did.

10:39.72

Rob Byrom

Um, and yeah when you're when you're cooking for for multiple people. It is It is a challenge sometimes to get it right for everyone and but again, that's that's about knowing your resonance knowing your clientele and that's that's the better thing about care. For example, we know who's there We know their likes their dislikes.

10:44.71

philjstreet

Um, yeah.

10:55.61

Rob Byrom

Um, etc where say a restaurant or hotel. You don't know who's coming through that door unless you ask a None questions on their dish. What someone sitting down for dinner doesn't really want to answer all them questions. You're not going to know again doesn't make it easy but it it certainly helps.

10:58.22

philjstreet

Yeah, yeah, course.

11:06.58

philjstreet

Yeah, are you almost no for sure. Yeah you, but you're almost I suppose a private members club in that respect because you can build relations with your um with your guests and you know and and as you say you get to know.

11:16.89

Rob Byrom

Yeah, you could put it like that.

11:25.97

philjstreet

Their likes and dislikes and you can evolve your your offer around that.

11:27.52

Rob Byrom

Absolutely absolutely and I think that's a huge huge thing gunoff piece a bit but that know in your residence is the most important thing. Um you know me and you could make make a menu now and we'd love it. You know we'd be happy as Larry for you know the rest the next few months while it's on. Actually if it's not something the residents like or want then it's completely useless you know and that's for me really important. We have a different menu in our care homes every care home. We've got 19 across England and Wales at the moment. Every home has a slightly different menu. Um purely because we.

11:51.22

philjstreet

Yeah.

12:04.93

Rob Byrom

Base it on the residents and the residents feedback. Um, if we had 1 1 menu for all care homes. You know there's going to be lots of residents who are not going to have something on the menu that they'd like every day which to us just isn't acceptable. Um, you know that's not a standard that we we accept.

12:06.13

philjstreet

Yeah.

12:18.30

philjstreet

Yeah, yeah, no, absolutely So yes, back to your story. There's a lot of that. There's a lot of that. Don't worry read the off piece thing is just something that happens. So don't don't worry that.

12:24.93

Rob Byrom

Um, so yeah, so um, I done my year apprentice. No. That's ah, not that's cool. No no problem. The tool. So so I had a great year. Um, Anishha Grange care home in biluwiki for hallmark um, as an apprentice and and then I was very lucky to be offered a trainee hospitality manager role. um so within that um I worked I had sort of each quarter was divided up and it was really well managed, um, sort of so my bosses at the time managed that. Um, so I had a few months um in one of our homes in Wales. Um, who didn't have a hospitalities manager at the time so that was great that was um, learnt a lot put it that way. You know it was really great and just literally everything I was doing I was just you know like a sponge just taking in all the. Knowledge and everything I could learn from I was just storing it. Um, and yeah, just taking in as much as I could really and I finished that was for another year and I finished that year doing multiple projects around different homes and again every home is slightly different and so again every home I took as much knowledge and as much feedback as I possibly could.

13:19.96

philjstreet

Yeah, yeah.

13:35.32

Rob Byrom

Um, and took it on with me and I finished Makecroft manneror in Brighton um I'd done a few months there whilst it was a commissioning home so that was really great for me because I saw it in the construction stage. You know, the None time I walked around it was in hard hat hard boots high visit etc, um, ceiling still not quite in. Um, and yeah it was it was.

13:48.66

philjstreet

Um, brilliant. Yep.

13:54.35

Rob Byrom

I Loved it. You know, especially with my um sort of passion for building and and construction that really really interested me so it's sort of going back a little bit as well. But it was really nice it. It was really great to see that from a building site into a building when it was handed over into a home when residents started moving in and for me that was.

13:58.10

philjstreet

Course? Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah.

14:11.47

philjstreet

Yeah.

14:14.21

Rob Byrom

Ah, really really enjoyed that. So after that we had a few more homes due to open so I actually then applied for a role on the commissioning Team. So I was a commissioning hospitality Assistant. So literally my role was to support with or support the commissioning manager at the time with. Every aspect of opening a care home. So The the ordering So The sort of the pre-orders of all the um you know everything going into the homes from your um I know from from your furniture down to your your forks literally and so that was really interesting for me from seeing a different aspect.

14:45.26

philjstreet

Yeah.

14:51.21

Rob Byrom

Of the business again, you know I'd I'd worked in lots of established homes. But actually this one was a um, a brand new commissioning home. So that was really really good for me and I actually supported opening up. Um, it was makeoff manor and then we opened up Lake Viewcare home in surre and a new court in rugby. So again that was that was great for me. Learnt as much as I could I worked alongside some great hospitality managers at the time. So again, just trying to pick their brains for every piece of information every bit of knowledge they had to steal from them to be honest, um and then following that a role came up in one of our homes as.

15:20.90

philjstreet

Um, yeah.

15:27.91

Rob Byrom

For a hospitality manager I thought well it's a bit of a it's a bit of a step you know I know lots of aspects of the business now. But I've never actually been a hospitality manager on my own in a home and I always sort of had that person near me to sort of um help if you like so but again you know it's about.

15:44.20

philjstreet

Um, yeah.

15:47.64

Rob Byrom

Putting yourself out of that comfort zone and you know you don't ask you don't get you know and why not let's give it a go and I was I was lucky enough to be offered that role so follow my commissioning assistant role I actually was a hospitality services manager within Buckelston Grange and Ipswich. Um, so one of our one of our care homes in hallmark. So.

16:05.37

philjstreet

Um, yeah.

16:07.30

Rob Byrom

Um, and again huge learning curve for me, um, quite or still quite young at the time thinking I know everything of course. Um, and obviously you know it is indeed it is um and yeah it again I just learned so much. Um, and.

16:12.69

philjstreet

Obviously that's part that's part of parcel being in your twenty s isn't it that.

16:27.22

Rob Byrom

Yeah I had a great team around me at the time and again learn from them and yeah, really developed so I was there for eighteen months um as the hospitality manager and to be honest to you after I live in Brentwood. So after eighteen months of traveling to whipsitch and back. What's ah about 120 mile round trip a day. Um I was tired from being honest.

16:41.91

philjstreet

Yeah, yeah, yeah.

16:47.12

Rob Byrom

So again I ah do great relationship hallmark they'd really you know they really sorted me out with my career to be honest with you. You know without hallmark I started off as an apprentice on £2 sixty five an hour I think it was at the time. Um, and I'm sort of leaving as a hospitality manager I never dreamt over a None year period.

17:06.57

philjstreet

There.

17:06.63

Rob Byrom

That that would happen when I first sort of walked in through those doors and you know I've been forever grateful for that and I actually left hallmark um left on you know, very good terms plan to come back. 1 ne day wasn't sure when what or how but at the time it was best for me personally um to. To move to ah to another care provider a lot closer to home. Um I was very lucky.

17:25.37

philjstreet

Yeah I suppose also probably useful for you to see something different as well like it just in terms of giving you a rounded knowledge different perspectives. Um all of these sorts of things.

17:36.54

Rob Byrom

It was yeah and I think and it was probably one of the best things I've done purely because you know like you say all I knew a lot about care homes. But I only knew Hallmark and that was you know the only standard and you know so I'd you know naturally assume well all care homes are like this. You know this is this is normal.

17:47.48

philjstreet

Um, yeah.

17:55.77

Rob Byrom

Whereas Actually when I went to the smaller um company I very quickly realized Hallmark isn't normal. You know it. It really is um, it really is sort of leading. Um it is a leading care provider. So yeah, that again it was a great.

17:55.96

philjstreet

Yep.

18:02.17

philjstreet

Um, right.

18:13.28

Rob Byrom

Um, thing for me to look at another care provider and we done so many great things there so I supported one of our homes as a hospitality manager for around six months and then I got asked to be the group hospitality manager for this company so it was only 2 care homes and I think it had 2 care homes being built at the time. So you know I had a little bit of commissioning knowledge so that that helped me within that. Um, and then I was there for just over a year and I was I was just made redundant randomly one day. So normal doubt work um had my coat on just to leave and you know pulled in the office.

18:33.30

philjstreet

Um, yeah.

18:48.46

Rob Byrom

And yeah, it just got made redundant just like that and I thought Wow you know did not see that come at all. They they done a big restructure of the company and well I say big restructure. It was only a very small company but I was a regional manager for the hospitality and there was an ops manager for sort of everything else. And yeah, we were both both made redundant.

18:49.22

philjstreet

Um, oh right.

19:08.35

Rob Byrom

So was what it was. You know everything happens for a reason and I was very lucky that the following day from that I was actually I found another job very quickly with another care provider and this was again for a hospitality manager role. So it was a huge huge life lesson for me.

19:08.93

philjstreet

Um, there.

19:25.89

Rob Byrom

Um, I'm not sure if I'm happy it happened or not ah being made redundant. But actually there's there's a lot of positives. What can come out of it. So it's a great life lesson for me, you never know what's around the corner. Um, you know.

19:27.38

philjstreet

Um, yeah.

19:34.54

philjstreet

Totally yeah and and actually it it can be almost ah ah ah, an inevitable part of somebody's career building is is that might happen at some point in in your life and at the time it can feel like oh my God. What am I going to do especially in your case whereby you didn't see it coming. There was no kind of you know levers to say that this is going to happen and therefore your your roles at threat or whatever. It's just just.

19:58.58

Rob Byrom

Yeah, absolutely and there was no sort of ah I'll start looking in the background just in case it happens it was literally you know None 6 in the evening we're making you redundant oh wow. Okay yeah, literally it was it was something on their minds to be honest, right? Okay, so yeah.

20:07.23

philjstreet

Um, yeah, don't come in tomorrow craiki. Yeah.

20:17.60

Rob Byrom

Very lucky I found another ah role with another care provider who you wanted say really helped me out in my time of need you know? ah never a good time to made redundant. But I think it was three or four months after I'd just purchased my None house with my part in the Jess. So yeah, that was a bit of a scary moment I must admit. Um.

20:29.43

philjstreet

Um, yeah, yeah.

20:35.95

Rob Byrom

But yeah, the next day I was offered a role hospitality manager within another small. Well not that not that small another care provider larger than the the one I'd come from and yeah it it got me out my time time of trouble to be honest with you and I've again been very forever grateful to to this company as well. So I had a great. Um I was only there for about seven months and I'd done a couple of different roles I've done a lot of the hospitality and I also supported with the sales side of things as well. So sort of the customersh relationship manager type role. So again I'd never really done that side so I'd done family visits. So I'd shown you know families around the home if they're looking um. To either moving themselves or moved in None of their loved ones. But I'd never seen any other part of it sort the the admin side of things so that was again great for me to learn. Um a great um, career progression as well for me to be honest because I saw that other side of the business. What I'd not really seen before. So yeah.

21:15.14

philjstreet

Yeah.

21:32.46

Rob Byrom

Again, forever grateful for that. Um, and I had a great none there to be honest and then a regional manager role or regional hospitality manager role came up at Hallmark again and I thought maybe it's time to come back? Um, you know I'd always said our words and I want I did tell hallmark um I want I want to come back one day. Just. Now is not the time to sort of to stay and there wasn't really anything else close to home or or anything different at the time. So I actually came back to hallmark or I like to say I come crawling back to hallmark after about um, just under None ars Yeah, so just under None years I crawling back? And yeah, luckily enough I was offered d.

21:55.77

philjstreet

A.

22:10.79

Rob Byrom

Regional hospitality manager role. So I was supporting all of our homes in england with all aspects of hospitality and just ah, two or three months ago so in April so first of April this year twenty 22 um I was then promoted to the group. Um, hospitality manager role is what I do now so very similar to before but I now support all of our homes across england and Wales and our sister company now samhom residences which is our assisted living complex which opened up last year our none one in Hutton.

22:45.88

philjstreet

Yeah, crike yeah and but just shows you as well like taking that time away like I mean the life experience that you would have gained in that two years that you were awake having to deal with a redundancy in that you know.

22:45.96

Rob Byrom

So yeah, that's exciting as well.

23:01.23

philjstreet

As you quite rightly say at the time it feels horrible but actually it can be None of the best things that ever happens to you and certainly at the time it it probably taught you ah a little bit of resilience that you didn't know you had and okay you you managed to get a job the next day but um it was yeah and then to. Come back and be able to take that life experience that you've learned into your new role and then now you've obviously been promoted into this groupwide role. Um, yeah, fabulous. What? So just talk to us about hallmarks then in terms of what you have and across the portfolio now and and what you're. What your role actually involves.

23:40.22

Rob Byrom

Yeah, so Hallmark so we're a family run business owned by the goyle family and we've currently got 19 care homes across england and Wales and 1 at the residency site in in Hutton we've got ah None more commissioning care homes what are due to open. Next year what again really exciting um you know a new home is always exciting and but yeah, it's just it. It opens up. You know a new team a new um home for residents and yeah, it's just another it's another care home to support and enjoy to be honest. So. That's really really exciting. So my role across the group now is to support. Yeah, all of our homes with all aspects of hospitality. So for Hallmark that means all the catering so that means from our suppliers. So we use. You know we try and use local butcher local fruit and veg supplier for each care home. So again from a business point of view. It's nice and easy just to have None butcher for the whole portfolio one veg supplier for the whole portfolio. But actually you know we feel the right thing to do is to support the local businesses within each home. It does cost us a little bit more money. You know to get that. But that money you know it's so worth it because the quality we get from that small independent supplier is you know is no comparison to the sort of the larger. Um national suppliers. So that's really really good. Um, so yeah, it's anything all the way from our suppliers.

24:59.68

philjstreet

Yeah.

25:10.47

Rob Byrom

Food safety within the kitchen food quality of what we use. Ah the presentation of the dishes. Ah the you know the kitchen team putting that together all the way through to the dining experience. So you know you can have the best food on a plate if it's slapped on a plate and thrown in front of you very unlikely that you're going to enjoy it.

25:28.70

philjstreet

Yeah.

25:29.96

Rob Byrom

And vice versa. You know you need that balance if it could be. You know, really horrible food if it you know if it there's no flavor in it. There's no nutrition in it and it's presented really nicely. You know you're probably still not going to enjoy it. Yes, it looks lovely. But there's no flavor. There's no, you know it's just not an enjoyable experience. So we've got to get that balance between.

25:44.18

philjstreet

Um, ah.

25:49.14

Rob Byrom

Really good quality food and really well presented to the liking of that resident. You know some residents um eat you know little and often some residents like a larger portion and again it's it's asking that question and it's known the residents on what they want, you know if you put too much in front of someone that might put them off. Um, other people they'll they'll eat. Whatever's there, you know so it's just knowing knowing a residence and but it's a sort of a step further as well. We We don't just want it to be lunchtime or dinnertime or breakfast time we want it to be that meal. Experience. So It's you know the the ambiance in the dining rooms. Um, you know.

26:07.49

philjstreet

Um, yeah.

26:24.10

Rob Byrom

Care homes a little bit different to say restaurants and hotels because this is their home. You know they live here. So it's entirely up to them where they eat they can eat in their bedroom if they wish we do try and promote the dining room just because of the social factor and it's you know, just a lot nicer really and we can. We can gain that experience more but it's just.

26:38.82

philjstreet

Um, yeah.

26:44.90

Rob Byrom

Just making it that enjoyable experience within the day rather than oh I've got to go and eat because I'm hungry. You know I want to go and have lunch because Im I'm going to enjoy myself. Um, it's that sort of of look on it. So it's It's all the catering all the way through from the farm all the way to through to the fork. Um, and that experience in between ah the housekeeping aspect to things So I'll see the cleanliness of the whole place. You know, ah with hotels care, homes, etc. I don't care if you're ah a 2 Wo-star Hotel or a 5 Ive-star Hotel It's got to be clean, you know, um I'd rather stay in ah um.

27:16.20

philjstreet

Yeah.

27:21.37

Rob Byrom

A clean 3 hree-star hotel than a dirty 5 star hotel for example and I think you know most people will probably agree with that. Um, so yeah, housekeeping really really important. Um, so yeah, we we we ensure you know we've got all the equipment we need you know there's always new equipment coming out or different ideas or different concepts coming out so we try and keep.

27:23.88

philjstreet

Um, yeah.

27:40.89

Rob Byrom

Update with that with recently or say recently probably six months ago or so maybe a bit longer. We've changed over our and our chemicals now. So they're really sustainable. So again, that's ah, that's really positive. So again. We look at not just the cleanliness. But how we get there so products we use the smart procedures we try and do. And of course just making sure it's safe. It doesn't look just look clean. You know it's physically you know it's clean, um, it's actually clean rather than just looks clean if that makes sense um also sort the gardens as well I work very closely with the estates team on the gardens so making sure they're you know, enjoyable by.

28:06.87

philjstreet

Yeah, yeah.

28:19.20

Rob Byrom

By the residents so we try and get residents involved in that as much as possible and we try and make sure you know each home has got you know the area that that they want you know with you know, established plants seasonal plants. Um, you know, try and get all your senses going. So. Look visually nice throughout the year but you can you know you can also um, the sense from different plants as well. Which really powerful really really important to yeah work work closely with them and of course just the front of house. Um feel to the whole place so that that involves the care team.

28:42.26

philjstreet

Yeah, yeah.

28:52.98

Rob Byrom

That involves the Lifestyles team the maintenance team the reception team The cafe team. You know every team within the home that involves because you know everyone everyone is involved in creating that experience for residents guests and of course team as well.

28:58.71

philjstreet

Yeah.

29:08.30

philjstreet

Yeah I think the thing for me was when ah there was a couple of things that really kind of stood out when I I went to visit one was the the welcome they did I suppose the Atrium feels more like a hotel than a care home as it were.

29:23.39

Rob Byrom

Um.

29:25.85

philjstreet

Whatever the perception I had in my head of what a care home should be because you went straight. There was a cafe right? there there was buzz. You know there was stuff happening people were interacting. It was it was lovely. It was you know it was ah there was there was life there I think is the is the point. Um.

29:39.67

Rob Byrom

Yes.

29:44.26

philjstreet

And the second was the kitchen ah like state of the art doesn't cover it and actually the the couple of people that I've sent um to interviews with you and I think you've you've thankfully hired a couple of chefs that have sent your way and thank you for that.

29:44.44

Rob Byrom

Um.

30:00.85

philjstreet

Um, is the thing that they've always been blown away by was one. Yes, the space but None the equipment that you have you know is and if they're if if they need a piece of equipment to do a certain dish a certain way then you get that in you know there's lots of. Considerations and it's not just about cost cost cost cost cost and of course you have to manage your costs but actually even the point you made there about where you go for your food supply. Yes, you could go and get it cheaper somewhere else. But that's not the point. The point is is that actually you're doing something. By, you're supporting the local community by going to a local supplier which actually has ah you know it's just a reciprocal benefit for everyone involved and um, yeah.

30:43.90

Rob Byrom

Yeah, it's a win-win situation isn't it especially things of that. But yeah I'm glad you've and thank you for mentioning the um, the state art Kitchens we have and and yes I think again the perception of care homes is you might have a small domestic oven If you're lucky a small little grill and you'll do what you can.

31:02.71

philjstreet

Yeah, Coupleless super hors and that's it. Yeah.

31:03.70

Rob Byrom

You know it's all chucked in a gasttronam. Um, they got yeah exactly that? Ah, but actually no you know and we we do do cookoffs for our chefs. It's not someone you know first stage interview is ah you know a chat face-to-face. Um, sort of traditional interview and then the second stage if they are successful Is You know they've got approved to us. They can cook and you know this is for their benefit and ours because you know they get to see what we're all about and whether we're the right place for them to work and also we get to see what they can what they can do as well and what they can bring to the table. So.

31:22.13

philjstreet

Yeah.

31:37.50

Rob Byrom

Um, we do have chefs in our kitchens not just cooks you know and that's for me is ah is a very big thing. There's a you know, very big difference between cooks and chefs and we've got really really strong team of chefs. We've got an executive chef as well Brian who brings you know wealth of knowledge and supports.

31:39.62

philjstreet

Um, yeah.

31:53.51

Rob Byrom

All of our homes with you know, just guidance and and support which is invaluable. It's all our kitchens. But yeah, we've got you know stately art. You know rationale ovens and and other you know key bits of equipment but you know for me like you say we have got and budgets. Of course you know we're a business. Um, but the same time if we can prove that we need something and you know if we have this piece of equipment we can now provide Xy and z you know, especially with Hallmark um, what I probably didn't appreciate with my first stint with Hallmark then actually if you've if you've given a good enough reason. Actually we can benefit from this you know. 99 times out of None They're going to say yes, go for it. You know and would this benefit other homes as well. So it's all stuff we've we've got lots of little projects going on in the background in each different home and then if something is successful. We will then share that with with the wider homes as well. So we are team hallmark.

32:34.22

philjstreet

Um, yeah.

32:47.74

Rob Byrom

You know, ah my group of hsms or hospitality services Managers. We do have a regular ah call so through Covid it was weekly. Um, just for um, you know a shoulder sometimes. But also you know updates with with guidance and um. If anyone struggling with something someone on that call has probably got an answer. You know you're not alone and and it was that sort of call and we now do that and we was doing it bi bi-weekly and we've just moved that to monthly now. Um, but everyone knows each other you know all the hospital managers know each other we all get on really well and they can all just phone each other. And ask for guidance and support which is really Nice. You know, ah and it it really works well and I think that that is really really important. Um, for that.

33:29.61

philjstreet

Yeah, totally I I think as well. it's it's um what you're actually providing as well is possibly one of the most honorable pieces of hospitality. You can you can deliver because you're you're delivering hospitality to um. People in their later years when they've kind of you know they're um, well, ah, but I'm just assuming things here I'm just always using my own parents as a reference point but you know people are beginning to to slow down a bit and they want ah but it doesn't mean that they don't want to have. Input and involvement in how your product is made and and and evolves.

34:10.13

Rob Byrom

Yeah, and and like I mentioned earlier we could create a menu but if it's not something resonance want then you know it's a rubbish menu. Basically you know and and again, that's why we have a different menu in all all of our homes because the menu in rugby For example is very different to the.

34:18.58

philjstreet

Yeah.

34:29.65

Rob Byrom

Ah, menu in Brighton you know they both work really well in their own homes. But I know if I switched them you know it would not work you know and again, that's where I do feel you know Hallmark are different and you know other care providers do the same thing or similar things. But.

34:36.85

philjstreet

No.

34:47.75

Rob Byrom

We try and do everything for the right reason you know rather than oh it's just you know some all about the bottom line or whatever it might be or we could save lots of money if we just changed supplier. Well we can save a lot of money but actually we we lose quality and what I love as well is you know my bosses above me. I'm always pushing on an open door when it's about quality. Um, yes I'll need to request authorization. But again, it's normally a very easy and a very nice conversation to have because we're all about moving forward. You know we have got a great product but we're always looking at how we can better ourselves and residents.

35:16.39

philjstreet

E.

35:23.50

philjstreet

Yeah.

35:26.46

Rob Byrom

Within our homes are the key to that you know if we need to know that resident know all the residents and um, meet and hopefully exceed exceed their um expectations.

35:37.42

philjstreet

Yeah, how do we make their experience The best possible experience while we're here. Yeah yeah, yeah, so you and I met Um, actually I think we'd we'd spoken once on the phone but we actually met face to face an I ah networking event and again.

35:41.51

Rob Byrom

Yes, absolutely.

35:53.39

Rob Byrom

We did.

35:57.50

philjstreet

This is just this is busting the own miss that exists within my head I never expected to see you an I event for whatever reason. But um, yeah, why why were you there? What was your cut. What's your objective with the I h.

36:04.38

Rob Byrom

Um, so for me, um, hospitality is you know again, perceptions and and over the years it's mainly if someone says hospitality to you. You're more than likely going to think of a hotel. Or a restaurant and one of my personal goals. You know this year really is to try and get care homes out there and be within the hospitality conversations with hotels and restaurants. You know like you've said we've got stately art kitchens we've got some amazing chefs.

36:34.31

philjstreet

Yeah.

36:41.27

Rob Byrom

You know and the food we produce is really good. You know it, you know it varies in in different homes again depending on the the requests from the residents but you know we do have some really lovely restaurant food and being served in our you know from our kitchens in in our homes. So. For me, There's no reason why you know care homes shouldn't be in the same league and in the same conversations as hotel and Restaurants. We've got all the same positions. Um, it's just a slightly different um clientele that we are that we are catering for and I could argue. There's quite a few extra benefits. Working in care than hotels and restaurants as Well. So that was sort of my None um event mainly due to covid but you know my None face-to-face event in quite a while and that's why you know I Really enjoy just speak into different hotels. Um a couple of different restaurants obviously yourself and I met a couple of suppliers there as Well. And again, it's for me, it's about you know, gaining knowledge getting information and um, just seeing how people can work Together. You know, especially in care we we all have the same goal at the end of the day you know we want to provide outstanding care for all residents within our home. So actually.

37:43.16

philjstreet

Um, yeah.

37:54.38

Rob Byrom

Why don't We just have a conversation and work together.

37:54.87

philjstreet

Yeah, ah totally I could not agree more I mean I think that's that I've talked about that so often on this show about how the fact that there's so much knowledge out there not just within your own sector but within the other sectors that exist within hospitality that together if we kind of just got better at that. You know we'd We'd. All Rise and elevate each other um and help each other get to the next stage and blah Blah La La La And so yeah I couldn't agree with I think the Iu has become a really good conduit for that. Um, and is only getting better. Um as well. Again, after a period of.

38:16.10

Rob Byrom

Yet.

38:25.19

Rob Byrom

Um, is.

38:32.54

philjstreet

Of rest I suppose through covered um, but yeah, so um, excellent. Okay, so what's so from your career so far, you're still quite a young man. He still got a long way to go I would ah imagine in terms of your ambition, Etc, etc. But. Have you got any funny stories from your career so far that you can share with us.

38:54.64

Rob Byrom

Um, funny story is quite difficult and I think probably one of them things. What wasn't quite as funny at the time but a few minutes after and especially looking back now was was quite funny was probably back in the hotel. So.

39:07.84

philjstreet

Um, yeah.

39:10.90

Rob Byrom

Over the Christmas period we were extremely busy like most hotels doing you know dinner dances and um, lots of lots of events like that and I just remember and it stuck with me one of the things I'm not sure if I'll ever forget was um, clear and empty glasses. You know, quite late. You know towards the end of the night ah with lots of people still there. You know dancing and and having great fun and I managed to um, slip on the on the floor straight down. Um, managed to save most of the glasses to be fair I just want to add add that in there. Um, but yeah as you can imagine. Ah everyone in the whole room saw it and heard it probably.

39:40.52

philjstreet

Right.

39:48.15

Rob Byrom

Um, and yeah it was It was something at the time rather embarrassing sort of got up as quickly as I could ah collected the couple of glasses I did drop um sort of went back a house to to put it down and you know get the mopp etc. But yeah, no, that was ah, certainly a highlight that that's kept with me which. Most put. Well everyone there found highly amusing at the time.

40:07.69

philjstreet

Yeah, there's an unwritten law isn't there that if if there's a glass drops or a plate drop somewhere that everybody in the vicinity has to go away. Yeah and and that's the last noise you want to hear when you're the one who's actually done it ah as well.

40:17.49

Rob Byrom

Yep, and so everyone on the night certainly know that unwritten law.

40:24.11

Rob Byrom

Yeah, all eyes on you. Absolutely.

40:27.22

philjstreet

Um, yeah, but at that general I think that's also part of the learning process right? is that things like that are inevitable. They will happen. Um, it's how you deal with them and then how you you'll try to make sure that that doesn't happen again. So maybe you'll.

40:35.40

Rob Byrom

So.

40:41.24

Rob Byrom

Um, yes, it exactly there's always ah any event. However, bad you think it is. There's always a ah learning some somewhere in there. You can learn something.

40:43.79

philjstreet

Be a little bit more sure of your footing the next time or or wherever.

40:52.26

philjstreet

Um, yeah, absolutely and cool I've like well what would be your your top 3 reasons for somebody to come and join hospitality.

41:02.52

Rob Byrom

Um I think for me. Um, So for me, you need a job what brings fulfillment into your life. You know I don't believe anyone is truly happy unless they are fulfilled So like I mentioned you know you could be a. Multimillionaire You know you could be you know, earning loads and loads and loads of money a year. But if you're not fulfilled. You're never going to feel Happy. Um, and I Ah really truly believe the hospitality industry does this. You know there's such a wide variety of characters within you know.

41:28.60

philjstreet

Yeah.

41:39.13

Rob Byrom

Restaurants hotels care homes. You know wherever you're working within hospitality and there's this huge variety of that and you know you make friends very very quickly. Um, and you know a lot of them are friends for life. You know I've still got friends back in the hotel and I worked there. Ah I was only there eighteen months and that was ten years ago now and I'm still very close with them people which is you know which is really really nice. Um, so the second one is variety so you know most roles you know whether it's an office role or whatever sort of role. It might be It's normally you go there to do None thing you know None

41:57.27

philjstreet

Um, yeah.

42:12.21

Rob Byrom

That None specific role whereas hospitality. You know it is that umbrella term so I was lucky enough within the hotel to work in. You know the banquets reception restaurant bar housekeeping you know, even the kitchen you know so I wouldn't have got that variety elsewhere. You know like I mentioned earlier it might be. Areas that you know you don't want to pursue in your career you know whereas actually it might be area where you think actually this is a bit of me and this I do feel fulfilled you know within that and I think probably the third um.

42:32.69

philjstreet

Um, ah.

42:40.26

philjstreet

Um, yeah.

42:47.72

Rob Byrom

Probably mentioned it in in number one to be honest, but yeah, just going back to the team bonding I think is is just I think it's so powerful that team bonding and that you know the support in every area I think it's one of the few um areas of of work where. Everyone It doesn't matter what department you're in within the hotel or within the care home that everyone helps each other you know it's not like well I'm a kitchen Assistant. So I can't do the cooking. You know it's no the chef and the kitchen system work really closely Together. You know the care team they work really closely with the kitchen as Well. The housekeeper work really closely with the.

43:14.42

philjstreet

Um, yeah.

43:24.69

Rob Byrom

Care Team The Lifestyle team the the laundry team The even the garden team. You know every single department. It's never that's not my job walk away. It's always how can I help let's do this together you know and that that just is so powerful and again just just gives you that.

43:31.99

philjstreet

Yeah.

43:42.25

Rob Byrom

Respect for your colleagues. They respect you and it's just such a nicer place to work when everyone supports each other and of course we get a better outcome which which is a better outcome for the residents.

43:50.32

philjstreet

Yeah, totally yeah and it's um yeah I Yeah you kind of live and die together don't you as ah as a team So you you know you share your successes and your your failures and take the learning together and you know and and you can't help but.

43:59.53

Rob Byrom

Yes.

44:08.62

philjstreet

Build bonds with people when you're in that kind of environment. Um, and that all stems from leadership. Ultimately I think if the leadership are creating the opportunity for people to do that and there's not this isolation from team to team. Um, then then that's ultimately when you get sparks flying and really good stuff can happen.

44:25.47

Rob Byrom

Absolutely yeah, could not agree more.

44:28.30

philjstreet

It sounds like very much you guys are are are nailing that at a hallmark for for sure. Um, great. Well yeah, last question before I let you on your way. Um, what's what does the next year have in store for for Hallmark. What's where's the next.

44:33.44

Rob Byrom

Just there we try.

44:45.90

Rob Byrom

So I think with Hallmark over the next year or so so um, a little time before covid and sort of as soon as I came back four years ago I started building on the hallmark hospitality standards. So it's sort of the bible for hospitality.

44:45.66

philjstreet

Big thing.

45:05.17

Rob Byrom

Standards across our group. So again being careful. It is a guide you know it's not your lounge has to look like this or your cafe has to look like this. It is purely a guide and then it is resident led you know like I mentioned it's their home. They lead on what we provide.

45:16.45

philjstreet

Um, yeah, it's like that. It's like the foundation that yeah.

45:21.41

Rob Byrom

Exactly Yeah, exactly that and is sort of a minimum sound if we want to get to so obviously Covid put a little bit of an obstacle in the place in place for that and you know certain restrictions and we couldn't do certain things. You know it doesn't mean that there wasn't a high standard there. It just meant we couldn't quite do it the way we wanted to do it So you know as.

45:37.90

philjstreet

There.

45:40.30

Rob Byrom

As restrictions have eased a lot. You know they're still not quite back to normal especially in in care homes. But they are. You know we? We're certainly moving in the right direction a lot of these standards really are coming back in place now. So we've now created just launched last month um the crystal award so the crystal award is just an internal award at hallmark and that celebrates the hospitality excellence. So for me, it's not something where we do an audit you know well done you' done really well on this visit here's the crystal award. You know it's something what is consistent over a long period of time. So for example, it's got to be that standard consistently maintained for you know a minimum of six months say um before you are you know you do receive the crystal award. But It's not job done once you've received the award. It is. You know you've got to maintain that standard if you don't we'll take your award away you know and obviously you know team benefits will come in with that. We. You know we've got a great team recognition budget. Um, so we'll so certainly be you know dipping into that once they do receive the Christmas award.

46:31.16

philjstreet

Um, yeah.

46:47.21

Rob Byrom

Um, so for me, that's my main focus this year on on supporting the homes on being able to achieve the crystal award themselves. But again like you mentioned we want this to be a foundation. You know we we are already got lots of ideas for the next you know 1 2 3 years time on the hospitality but we want to offer.

47:02.32

philjstreet

Um, ah.

47:06.71

Rob Byrom

You know hospitality. It's a given that you need a clean care home. It's a given you should be providing good Food. You know and a good experience. But what else can we do you know to really give everyone you know from residents who lived here. The team members who work. Within the homes. Plus you know family and friends of the residents as well. Um, what can we do to give them that experience to you know, really want to come In. It's not just oh I've not seen my mom or my grandmother or or relative for a few weeks I'll better pop in you know it's actually.

47:33.75

philjstreet

Um, yeah, yeah.

47:41.63

Rob Byrom

They live in a beautiful home I Really want to spend time there you know like you say they can come in and and go to the coffee Shop. You know it's all Inclusive. So There's no sort of fees to pay or anything. It's all inclusive so they can come and you know have a coffee or they can go outside of its nice weather in ah in our lovely Gardens. Um. It's just getting that Wow factoring but just keep building building building I think with hospitality if you think right? we've made it job done. Um, it's not for you. You know it's yeah you know it's right? What can we do next? What can we do next? What can we new to and just having that mindset of you know, keep going keep going and.

47:59.96

philjstreet

A.

48:05.37

philjstreet

Yeah, this game over? Yeah yeah.

48:16.94

Rob Byrom

Um I was lucky enough I went on holiday a couple of weeks ago and stayed in it. It was a nice hotel and I was just getting ideas. You know what do they do? you know a couple of things I wouldn't fancy doing you know, but of course you find that everywhere but there was lots of you know, took lots of photos and thought yeah I like that I like that I like that. Um, and yeah, just just.

48:31.10

philjstreet

Um, yeah.

48:34.57

Rob Byrom

Continue building on what we're doing at the moment.

48:36.30

philjstreet

Yeah I know I can just see ah you coming back loaded with ideas and all of your all of your hospitality marriage is gone. Oh god's Rob's come back from holiday again. What we got that what we got in store now. Yeah.

48:46.10

Rob Byrom

Something on them lines. Yes I believe.

48:55.45

philjstreet

Wicked um, great stuff. Well no look. Thank you very much for coming on and and sharing your story. A very very interesting part of the industry and I think it feels like it is um, moving forward at a rate of knots and and the the recognition for what you guys are doing is is just getting better and better and so I wish you can. Continued success I'm going to keep pilfering away my savings into my retirement funds so that I can afford to come and live in one of your homes for my later years. They are beautiful. Beautiful places. Um, and wish you well for the for the next year ahead and beyond.

49:23.36

Rob Byrom

Please do.

49:30.46

Rob Byrom

Thank you very much. Thank you very much for for giving me the opportunity Very much appreciate it And yeah I'm sure we'll we'll catch up very soon Bye bye.

49:36.70

philjstreet

Fantastic! Thanks so much Rob take care. Cheers.