Chris Maclean: Excitement, growth, and the way to beat off stiff competition

By Chris Maclean

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Great depression

On Sunday the vicar's theme was "excitement and growth". Most people I know, and virtually anyone working in our industry, could not help but spot...

On Sunday the vicar's theme was "excitement and growth". Most people I know, and virtually anyone working in our industry, could not help but spot the double entendre. I doubt the vicar realised. Sure enough he went on about something completely different - but it got me thinking.

Without excitement there can be no growth.

As the media continue to publish stories stressing the economic meltdown, the problems of alcohol and drink-related behaviour, the health issues and a host of stories affecting what we do, it becomes increasingly difficult not to absorb some of these ideas. One person pointed out to me that now that we have 24-hour news channels and a vast array of news programmes we have to create more news to fit in the gaps. How is it there is always the same amount of news every day? Even when there are no stories at all, the media still manage to fill the space. How? By making up stories seems to be the answer.

This morning my Dad told me to look at the front of The Guardian​. It led with "Police demand action after pubs ditch drinking code - Calls for laws to regulate industry as price wars fuel 'happy hour' culture". The Telegraph front page ran "Beer sales in pubs at lowest since the Great Depression".

Two things emerge from this. Firstly, what did people expect? If our industry is faced with destruction because of the high rents, credit crunch, economic meltdown and the increases in duty and utility bills it seems inevitable that voluntary restraints on how we sell might be abandoned. Such measures are like trying to operate wearing handcuffs.

Maybe an example, in football terms, might be that you are one-nil down with 10 minutes to go, you've got the ball, there's only the keeper between you and the net. He trips over. Some would argue there is a moral obligation to wait until he is standing before you continue. But you've got to take the opportunity to survive. It's a no-brainer. People must use whatever resources are available to them to generate business.

The second thing is that however downtrodden one might feel, however difficult things might seem at the moment, it is important that we have the tenacity and determination to see it through and the excitement and enthusiasm to make a success of it.

I love visiting pubs. I feel enriched by their presence. Their history, their delivery and their atmosphere. When they are at their best I leave with a warm self-satisfied glow (not at all affected by the six pints of refreshing bitter). But the ones I prefer going to are those which exude a sense of enthusiasm and excitement. It is those, as the vicar said, that are going to thrive and grow. They are the ones with fresh ideas, the cleanest toilets, the smartest back-bar.

It is the ones that cannot show that, that will feel the pain.

It's going to be a long and difficult road. I just hope I can keep smiling on the journey.

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