Monday, August 25, 2008

HELLO? Knock Knock? Most pubco BDMs do not know how to interpret a business plan. How could they? They are employees determined to do a job, a job which is to let business premises and make sure the rent and beer invoices are paid within the terms of the lease. Business Development to a BDM is making sure the tenant's i's and t's are dotted and crossed and trying to make sure their 'customers' don't buy out of tie. It is crashingly clear to anyone with any experience of the catering trade before signing a tied lease that they are not business development managers at all. They are pubco snoops. Calling them 'pubco police' does the national police service a major disservice.

S&NPE, my pubco, has accused me of not caring to take their BDMs advice on all sorts of things and that somehow my ignoring their advice has led me into difficult trading circumstances which are nothing of their making. I'm a generous person and the fact is that in thirteen years of a supposedly fruitful relationship with S&NPE I have had NOTHING in terms of advice from any BDM which has been usable or of any value in my business. I HAVE had loads of grief from the whole S&NPE edifice when it's come to rent reviews or being caught buying out of tie though.
I bought out of tie on a very small scale regularly well over ten years ago because I had a verbal agreement from Inntrepreneur that I could do so with bottled beers such as wheat and fruit beers which they were not able to supply but which my customers were asking for. This went on for a couple of years and then S&NPE bought the freehold (In 1997 Inntrepreneur's C.E.O. had personally told me that IF the Sun and Doves were to be made available for sale from the estate that I would be given first refusal by the way. This break of promise was one of the first clear indications I had that a tie partnership was not what it was made out to be. OK; I was naive then). The new S&NPE BDM got me into the high court for buying out of tie - tried to get full disclosure of accounts and forfeiture of the lease. He actually said to me: 'when I meet people like you I think of my bonuses and realise that you are actually stealing from me and my family'.

I have not bought out of tie since then, which has meant two things: 1) I have not been able to supply some of my customers with esoteric beers they would like to see us stocking and 2) it has been almost impossible to make a profit because our beer margins are ludicrously low and unviable in business terms. We've only survived for so many years because we're BUSY (because of US not them) and because we sell so many other things that bring money in that the business has been able to scrape along by perennially cross subsidising the losses we make on beer sales. This is bloody tedious especially when BDMs hint that they think you don't know how to run a business because there's always too many people on shift when they come in. As if they would know the first thing about running a business. Or working behind a bar. Or serving food at tables. Or taking a booking. Or how to clean a toilet properly or make a good solid stew and sell it to discerning customers.


This will continue... because I was caught buying out of tie four weeks ago, just before I was to go on holiday for three weeks. I was shopping for my 50th birthday present when the BDM came and had a burger (he told me he couldn't remember the last time he'd had such a good one) for lunch thinking I might be around for a chat - he was just about to leave, he said, "when it was a case of being in the right place at the wrong time or is it the wrong place at the right time? and I saw this white van turn up and make a delivery!". He took photographs and tried to get the invoice from the van driver. He left a 'buying out of tie' form which he'd filled in with the quantity of beers that were being delivered and left it, unsigned by anyone at the pub, for me to look at.

I called him from Portugal three days later.

I told him we made our normal order on Monday for delivery on Thursday. Then Monday Tuesday and Wednesday were much busier than we expected because the weather was really good and we had to borrow beer from other pubs locally or we'd run out. We HAD to replace the borrowed beer by the weekend - or the pubs we'd borrowed from would run out over the weekend. He said that was understandable but why did we not buy the replacement beer through the tie? 'Because S&NPE don't do next day and won't deliver before next Tuesday if the order's not in on Monday'.

"It's simple Gareth, hit me up with an invoice that shows the profit you've lost and I'll pay it".

We're meeting this afternoon for a coffee and a chat.

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