Jim: We like to pride ourselves on being the best “Small Business Consultants” we can be. We never forget that our Licensees are self-employed, so our primary job is to support them in every way we can to achieve their goals in their own businesses. This can range from help with marketing, HR, product range, food support, and financial planning amongst all the other challenges self-employed people face.
Chris: The relationship is the most important thing for me so the way we work together is honestly and collaboratively. Working together I always like to encourage creativity while making sure all the basics are done brilliantly to create fantastic pubs that we can all be proud of.
Jim: We recruit and offer tenancies to the best candidate we have who applies. We then hold an induction meeting, guiding them through the process of starting their own business and pointing them in the right direction for specific help and advice. We are there on the day they take over and I would expect a BDM to be in weekly contact with all new tenants as they settle into their business.
Chris: Depending on the knowledge and experience of the new pub operator I can get involved with every detail to just being a sounding board for ideas and to help with how we work at St Austell Brewery with our tenancies. The most important things are that we talk regularly, and we have progress meetings in the run-up to taking on a pub tenancy with us and that I stay close to the business during the early stages of trading.
Jim: There are so many skills required by great tenants and it’s also fair to say the skills required are determined by the pub they choose to run. The skillset needed to run a community pub is completely different to that required to run a hotel or destination food business. However, all great tenants possess the following skills, energy, drive and determination, creativity and they must have what I call the Hospitality Gene. If you don’ get pleasure from serving customers and making sure they are having a fantastic time don’t run a pub.
Chris: All the things that we can’t teach people are what makes a great tenant, passion for the industry, desire to be the best they can be and operate a brilliant pub, energy to keep going and find new ways of developing the business and the willingness to find a way. During the pandemic the pubs that have done the best and are continuing to trade strongly are those operated by people with those attributes.
Jim: A vision as to what their business will look like as well as an understanding of the current position. Financial awareness, a cash flow forecast and P&L projection are also key. But above all, it is the document that “sells” their plans and passions for the business.
Chris: A great understanding of the area, the pub and its history along with the opportunities for the business for the future and a clear vision and identity for the business. A great business plan will really inspire and excite me while demonstrating all those things that make a great tenant the passion, energy, commitment, and desire.
Jim: What makes me most excited is every day seeing people achieve their goals and succeed. Great pubs will always thrive and survive but just being OK isn’t good enough, you need to be great. In the South West we have huge opportunities both in terms of Inward tourism but also natural beauty and resources that make our trading area a dynamic and exciting part of the world to operate in.
Chris: Innovation, a lot of the best industry innovation comes from tenanted pubs because you operate the business as your own you really can move quickly and take advantage of opportunities and trends quickly. I learn daily from our fantastic tenants as they have great ideas that we can work together to deliver.
Jim: It is a hard competitive marketplace. If you do not have the drive and energy to succeed then choose a different occupation. Running a pub or any own business is tough and you need to be resilient, be able to bounce back from setbacks and above all be able to build a team of employees to support and help achieve your ambitions.
Chris: Customer’s expectations, being good is no longer good enough our customers want a fantastic experience every time. If we can exceed those expectations on every visit, we will be successful, being able to deliver what our customers want consistently is a challenge. It’s all about the people in our businesses, great people make great pubs - from the pub operator to the cleaner. Attracting, recruiting and retaining great staff is more important than ever.
Jim: Because we have the same drive and passion for our pubs as our licensees do. We operate in a spirit of fairness and try very hard to make sure our Licensees are looked after to the best of our ability. Through the Licensee Survey, we have consistently scored very highly (rated by our tenants) against lots of pub companies operating in different parts of the country. We care deeply about their success.
Chris: Being a family-owned business every decision we make is about the long term ensuring our business is fit for generations to come. Because of this, we make decisions with this in mind, the investment we made during the pandemic was substantial in our tenanted estate. This was to ensure we kept our great tenants, and they had the best chance to recover brilliantly, and I am proud to say we achieved our goal.
Jim: There are so many it's difficult to choose just one. The important point is it is the people that make the pubs, not the pubs that make the people. I can show you a pub in a poor location run by amazing people that delivers the best experience. I’m proud of our amazing people running our amazing pubs.
Chris: Picking a favourite pub is like picking a favourite child! We have so many fantastic pubs in our estate of tenanted pubs not just in my area but in the areas covered by my fellow BDMs it would be difficult to choose. You may be able to get me to divulge my favourites over a pint of Tribute one day.