Ann Elliott established Elliott Independent, a small marketing consultancy, in 2001 to offer advice to improve sales and profitability. She can be contacted on 01296 714745
Kerry and Nigel certainly know how to generate success and they have done that at Steps by completely understanding their target market and delivering something unique to them.
They have to do that at the White Hart and they know that.
While Steps is bringing in people from Birmingham and Coventry, the White Hart will focus on the local community and that's absolutely right. So how can they build that local business?
1. They should encourage everyone they know (and preferably, some they don't) to try the pub (and bring their friends). If they give them a fantastic experience then word-of-mouth recommendation will be their best form of marketing.
2. They should ask as many locals as possible about what they want from their local pub. Their customers (and their staff) will give fantastic ideas for free.
3. Nigel and Kerry should make their pub the very centre of the community by being involved in as many local activities as possible. They must be proactive create new events, tie in with other local businesses and make themselves (and the pub) known to every club and society.
4. They should invite the local media to visit the pub to see what they do. They could launch a website, produce their own newsletter, develop their own email database and/or distribute flyers. Now though, they should just do the simple things well and keep their locals happy.
They should think carefully about a huge capital investment and ensure their target market wants an Italian restaurant.
Anthony Mears is the MD of Inn Front Pubs Ltd; was Innkeeper of the Year in 2000; owns the award-winning freehouse the Ivy House in Chalfont St Giles, Bucks; is chairman of Thames Valley BII and a companion member of the BII
Kerry and Nigel have built up a sound business at Steps based on enthusiasm and an understanding of their market. Their decision to buy a nearby pub is based on good principles, but a second business can be a dangerous distraction. It is vital that they work out a clear operating strategy for the White Hart. Ideally the two premises should complement each other, increasing trade at both. It is crucial they set up systems and separate teams to enable them to maintain control of both businesses.
The idea of a community role for the White Hart sounds like a good idea, but it's important to decide on the type of offering family, sports, young persons etc. This decision will be made from researching the market, and looking for the biggest opportunity. It is especially important to bear in mind what market may provide a feeder to Steps.
The next stage is to provide a value-for-money offering, with lots of activities for and around the community. It is imperative that both businesses get 100% focus, and with any community pub it is vital to build loyalty with customers, so the choice of licensee is key. Employ a manager who understands the market, can identify closely with the clientelle, and has the time and enthusiasm to get involved.
The outbuildings seem to offer great scope, though an Italian restaurant sounds at odds with the community theme, and would provide a third, and even more distracting business option. Look at the option of franchising the food here, maybe into something like an Indian restaurant, which would suit and benefit both businesses better.