Friday, September 26, 2008

Very difficult one if you're in financial crisis yourself but HAS to be done. Sink or swim. First, take a deep breath, clear your head and think hard about what makes customers want to come to your place over someone elses'. Be tough – look at what works well and what doesn’t - then roll up your sleeves and do things which will get bums on seats – you MUST cost cut at the same time as increasing income – two things that don’t necessarily go hand in hand. Make sure that any cost savings you make will not result in reducing income. Get rid of, as far as possible everything that doesn’t work – and make everything that does work – work better for you and your customers... it’s ALL about bums on seats. Think about the customer, what they want, think about what it’s like to be one of your customers, ask your customers what they do and don’t like about your business.

Buy more effectively. Pay close attention to every aspect of your supplies and make sure that you are buying goods in as efficiently and cheaply as possible without compromising on quality. Horse trade with all your suppliers to get better prices; they want and need your business, they are not immune to the credit crunch and will be willing to talk better prices to keep your business or to take you on as a new customer... if you’re getting everything delivered – compare prices with Cash and Carry – even with Aldi, Lidl or Netto – and see if you can’t save a shed load of money and increase your GP’s by going out and doing the shopping yourself. You could be surprised. A food led pub I know in Kent saved 45% on meat, fish and groceries by buying direct from market in London – by buying a clapped out van and going into town twice a week at three in the morning, getting back by eight and back to bed for a couple of hours before getting ready for service. It turned break evens and small losses into a healthy profit, even though it was very hard work. Gave him the chance to get away from the business and meet other people too.

Barter with Utilities like gas telephone and electricity if you're not in binding contracts with them. Use the 'phone less - don't let staff make calls, make sure lights are switched off whenever there’s no need for them to be on – like in the cellar. Turn off gas rings in the kitchen in between cooking. If you’ve got outside heaters – stop using them and buy a load of cheap but nice blankets cushions and throws for your smokers to sit on and use over their legs when the weather gets colder (from Poundstretcher for example). Tell your customers and staff what you’re doing and why. You’re saving on bills and saving the environment at the same time.

Make sure the pub your customers love is spotlessly clean and always smells fresh - front of house and back. Stale beer smells are sour and deeply unpleasant - get rid of those smells if your pub has them (invest in or hire a steam cleaner and do a once over deep scrub down to get rid of accumulated stickiness and smells). Make sure the toilets are looked after, well lit and have nice mirrors to look in, particularly the women's.

If you have any cash at all seriously consider doing a ‘Changing Rooms’ make over. Plan everything meticulously and close for one or two days – the quietest ones in the week obviously – and do a thorough clean of everything first and then impose a new colour scheme and change your menu if you do food, introduce a load of new snacks if you don’t do food, look at wines and spirits and beers and change them to make sense of your new set up. Do it all in two days. Ask your customers if they will help, get your staff to do things they’ve never done before – like clean, polish, scrape and paint, fit new lamp shades, change light fittings – make a big visible difference. Scour junk and old furniture shops and get in some new tables and chairs – just a few to make an impact – chuck out anything that’s not really up to scratch and make your place the new place to be.

Have an opening, invite loads of people – give away some booze (but not stuff you bought through the tie mind) and nibbles and make it an occasion for everyone to remember. Thank everyone for coming and supporting you. Then get your nose to the grindstone and work your butt off for as long as it takes.

Steve Norton. There you go again spouting YOUR unfounded nonsense. You've got nothing against the pubcos because one way or another you are paid by them, aren't you? There's no other way you could be coming out with what you are if you were in any way independent.

Further there's nothing really insulting in what I say about the pubcos - what I say is just boringly, dismally, stupifyingly, factually accurate. Insulting? You haven't seen anything like insulting mate. Have you paid a moment's attention to Dave Mountford's situation and what he's said here? What's happened to Dave is typical of what pubcos do to tenants and your denying that nails you for what you are - a pro pubco poodle... You're questioning the validity of the views of people who own tied leases and know what is happening in this industry. It's you who is insulting with your stance of denial in the cafe of stark reality.

And by the way Steve GMB didn't jump on this particular union bandwagon; they made it.

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