Running a pub can be an all-consuming, challenging profession. It’s all too easy to become overwhelmed by day to day ‘plate spinning’ and forget the bigger picture.

Control is the principle that drives success – When you’re fully in control of finance, staff management, marketing, customer service and communicate effectively, your pub business is more likely to thrive.

  1. Control – Work ‘on’ the business not ‘in’ it

Focus on working on, not in, the business. Your role should be managing not ‘doing’, to allow you time and perspective to grow your business. It’s very easy to get caught up in the ‘day job’ and takes concerted effort to take a different approach.

  • Every hour spent on menial tasks is actually a cost to your business.
  • Your role should be focused on monitoring the bigger picture, spotting problems, identifying solutions and identifying opportunities for growth.
  • Recruit, train and delegate each and every task to a member of your team – Monitor closely to ensure delivery.
  • Use experts to manage areas where you lack experience or knowledge. They’ll provide practical guidance, saving you time and money.
  1. Financial Control – Watch the numbers

The daily running of a pub can be ‘all-consuming’ leaving little time to focus on financial management – Control of this area is critical. Reviewing your sales figures and bank balance on a weekly basis is simply not sufficient…

  • Find the right accountant (ideally an industry specialist) and use them in the right way – This will save time and money and help you grow your business.
  • An accountant should ensure compliance / avoid HMRC penalties – This is the absolute bare minimum – Avoid the anxiety of lurching from one VAT quarter to another!
  • Monthly Management Accounts  – Ensure your accountant delivers on time, in an easily understandable format –  Without this you’re working blindfolded, unable to spot problems and unable to take action.
  • Metrics – Ensure your Management Accounts highlight key industry metrics such as wet / dry margins and staff cost ratios.
  • Set time aside (each month) to review accounts, plan for the future and ask for help if you need it.
  1. Staff  – Attract, hire and retain the best people

Your staff play a crucial role in the profitability of your business. They heavily influence the customer experience and determine repeat visits / recommendations to others. Recruiting / retaining great people is a key challenge facing pub owners, so worthy of careful consideration.

  • Attract the right applicants – Evaluate requirements before you hire.
  • Conduct a comprehensive interview process – Use competency based questions.
  • Check references – Ideally verbal, to allow you to ask more detailed questions.
  • Carry out a comprehensive induction programme and set expectations.
  • Offer continual training / development to maintain staff engagement.
  • Hold regular staff meetings to keep staff abreast of the bigger picture.
  1. Marketing – Drive sales and customer loyalty

In today’s tough market, it’s essential to stand out from the crowd – Identify your ‘ideal’ customer profile and find the best way to attract them:

  • Pinpoint your offering – Get to know your customers, ensure your offering matches their profile  – If it doesn’t, change it!
  • Identify the most effective tools to market your offering, create a marketing plan / budget and follow it.
  • Ensure your pub has its own website – Draft in the experts to help!
  • Blog occasionally, to optimise your site for local clientele,
  • Use social media to build an audience – It’s free, immediate and easy to execute!
  • Create promotions that fit with your customer profile, to draw in new business.
  • Measure the results of campaigns and refine your plans.
  1. Customer Service – Stand out from the crowd and drive sales

There’s competition and a lot of it! Exceptional customer service is vital to ensure you stand out from the crowd, encourage customers to spend more, return and recommend you to others!

  • First impressions really do matter. Give customers a warm welcome and ensure housekeeping is second to none.
  • Upsell – Ensure staff are fully trained to maximise sales.
  • Prompt service – Don’t make it difficult for customers to spend money!
  • Gain feedback via social media, feedback cards or email – Train staff to gain verbal customer feedback and respond positively whether good or bad!
  • Use Mystery Shoppers to gain impartial feedback.
  • Stay calm when people complain. Diffuse situations with an empathetic, proactive approach.
  • Train staff on your complaints policy. Fully investigate and respond to all complaints and retrain staff if necessary.
  1. Communication – Get feedback, maximise relationships and maintain control

Effective communication is vital to maintain control, boost profitability and create a harmonious workplace – However, it’s significance often gets forgotten! – The manner (and regularity) in which you communicate with others heavily influences the success of your business.

  • Staff – Your team are the lifeblood of your business, they need to be managed and encouraged to achieve your goals. With open communication and regular reviews, staff are clear on their responsibilities. Communicating professionally and respectfully develops team morale and increases productivity.
  • Customers – Effective communication is essential to create customer loyalty – Really listen and understand customer needs. When communicating, be attentive, polite, and open to feedback.
  • Suppliers – Forge strong relationships with suppliers to ensure you secure competitive pricing and get the most out of relationships – Contacts such as your accountant / web designer should be seen as an extension of your team, treat them as such! Never feel hesitant to ask questions and draw on their expertise.

We hope these pointers have been helpful in focusing your efforts to drive your business forward.

If you have further questions do get in touch with Fairmile and join our Facebook Group, helping business owners get more from their pub and connect with like minded people –