Wednesday, March 28, 2012

From Licensees Supporting Licensees on Facebook

This is an interesting area... and what lies behind the 'negativity vs positivity' angle begins to get into the complexity of just Why The Pub Sector Is In Ruins. No one has spoken out or advocated for publicans / tied lessees for decades and, least vociferous of all are Licensees themselves.

The vast majority of pubco publicans keep totally schtumm about the precariousness of their position; The dilemma facing the Reasonably Efficient Operator when they see the writing on the wall:

"Do I tell the punters? Or do I not?":

"I have a load of loyal customers from all sorts of backgrounds who love the pub, who clearly love me, and they could be a powerful force in my arguments for standing up to the pub company who's trying to put me out of business with their price increases and the next rent review. Maybe somebody will have a Eureka moment and help me find a solution to this. Should I appeal to them to back me with a petition? Will they really get what's happening? Will they think 'He made the pub busy, I thought he knew what he was doing with the business but, maybe, really, he's been doing something very wrong all along?'. I could do with some support anyway, maybe it's worth chancing being open and transparent but maybe it'll just put them off, not sure what to do".

I spent years trying to inform / educate / bring up to speed my customers, open their eyes, without patronising them, trying very hard not to sound like a whiny whinging wimp looking for sympathy, about what was going to happen to me and their pub (i.e. inevitably go out of business while it a was busy, bustling community hub) and found, across the span of about a decade of doing this:

1) A very small number GOT IT and consistently were there to help talk me through the mountains and valleys of the Loony Landscape of pubco LaLa Land. And a couple of them even came to Parliament when we set up the Fair Pint Campaign.
2) Most just quite simply did not get it, they didn't really believe me, it was as if "it's busy, he's a nice guy, he doesn't understand just how good his business is, it can't possibly end the way he thinks it will, he's being melodramatic'. I think they thought I was being over cautious about how serious the situation was and, in a way, the longer I carried on trading – by putting up a nimble fight against the pubco through the courts, hoops and jumps, and having a nervous breakdown, the more it seemed like I was always exaggerating the position ('he said he was being bankrupted three years ago'; That is what they thought - until the weekend we had our closing parties just before the pub was boarded up
3) A small number thought it was all a weird attempt at my trying to get their loyalty out of hand wringing in public. Some of them blogged that the Landlord of the Sun and Doves should keep it down, people don't like having politics rammed down their throat when they to the pub' and a couple of them accused me, anonymously on blogs, of being just the same as the pubcos – for reasons unclear that I never undestood – and for presenting a case that was 'bleating on in public about something he should blame himself for because he signed the lease didn't he?'

Faced with all these realities, and the many more very real things they have to attend to every day and every night 24/7, it's not surprising publicans keep it to themselves.

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