Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Robert - don't blame yourself for it all - you're feeling it's all your fault is part of the PubCo model - they don't get grief that way. As long as lessees are in isolation and apart and can't share experiences with each other they have got you over a barrel, feeling stupid and a failure. You aren't a clairvoyant and you were lied to. You;re made to feel it is all your fault. This is the point that shores up the PubCos model - and they all learn from and copy each other because it's so effective.

If every lessee were in tocuh with other lessees they would realise that everyone is being shafted and it's NOT just their own stupidity that got them broke, thinking that every one else, somehow, miraculously, is making a good living out of it. Well, if they are running a tied business legally, they aren't making a good living. IT'S AS SIMPLE AS THAT. Some commentators here will say otherwise - and they will say that it's the individual's fault that they did not do the research, the sums, the advice - well I did all of that and I have been running a busy tied business absolutely straight for thirteen years - and it doesn't work. And I've felt like an incompetent failure for over ten of those years. Ashamed of my lack of financial success when BDM's and people further up the food chain have said things like 'if I were running your pub I'd be having six holidays a year and driving a Porsche, what are you doing wrong?' 'You're always overstaffed when I come in here' and stuff like that.

Now I knew a lot about what I was getting myself into when I signed my lease in 1995. I had loads of experience of working in and managing very busy high end restaurants and a well known West End night club. I researched and drew up what several very experienced operators (two of them former employers of mine) told me was 'a better business plan than the one we did setting up the group' or to that effect.

I did the refurb on a ridiculously small budget, I won London awards within six months of opening and for years afterwards. Still get lots of press - was in the Times a couple of weeks ago. The pub was doing 1K a week when I signed the lease and I was paying 32K rent at the start... three years later I had a BDM saying he was very interested to see all the articles about my pub in the press 'so high profile, you're doing really well', telling me my rent would easily be into six figures at first review - 'just to prepare you for it' and what was I going to do about that? By then the Freehold of my pub had already been sold on, having been promised first refusal by the then Chief Exec of the original PubCo this rather annoyed me. Like many people, I hate being lied to, and from round about then I began to become more and more disillusioned with the whole PubCo / tenant relationship - every time I acted in good faith and tried to work in partnership with their suggestions, they shafted me. I've got it all recorded in meeting notes and letters, what is absent from their side of the relationship is anything in writing. IN spite of all the evidence that the PubCo model was what was wrong, in spite my working out on my own that they were earning much more out of me than I was, I always felt really really dumb. Thought I made a big mistake getting into the pub business. Just didn't really know what I was doing and had been deluding myself all those years when I worked for other people that I could run a business myself.

And it's only since I got to be really close friends with a couple of other publicans that I realised it's not just me - it's all of us. And decided I would do something about it instead of thinking about killing myself for my stupidity.

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