It's right and proper, given the range of problems traced to their door, that the post-Bec talk has been all about what pubcos must do to change the way they operate.
But there's another equally vital dimension to consider — what many licensees must do differently if the pub is to create enough profit for both them and their landlords.
For, let's face it, the pubcos are in a hard place right now. And though it may be of their own making, we have to be realistic about how much room they actually have for manoeuvre with their licensees.
It's obvious they will be much more willing to work with struggling operators if they can see the operator is doing everything possible to make the pub really work to its full potential.
Many licensees who've read this far may by now be fuming. They will have worked themselves into the ground pushing the pub's potential — and still can't make a profit. Don't fume: this is not about you.
Rather, it's directed at the 30% of licensees who are just not bothering to look at the competition around them. That's the staggering figure thrown up by our exclusive survey this week, commissioned from CGA. And it's directed at the similar number of licensees who don't bother to advertise their offers. And the 26% of licensees who, astonishingly in these straitened times, do not organise special events or promotional offers.
They're probably all the same group — and frankly, this lack of basic business nous is a disgrace to the trade. Small wonder that their pubs will be struggling. And small wonder either that pubcos and BDMs moan about them. If licensees don't help themselves, they can't expect to be baled out when times get tough.
We quote Fuller's pub boss Simon Emeny this week saying that its approach to under-performing pubs is "less about rent concessions and more about pulling in more customers". Yet how can anyone expect to get more trade when they don't work harder to promote themselves and put on more events?
What a relief, then, to turn from the survey to our Great British Pub Award entrants. Judging has been taking place this week. And as entries are up by nearly 50% to record levels, this has been a time-consuming exercise. But what a pleasure it has been. The ambition and brilliance of these inspiring licensees is staggering. Wonderful ideas for growing trade, events of every description, imaginative promotions. Business building at its best. British licensees at their best. And exactly the kind of pub trade that we all want.
If the MA readers who've entered our awards so enthusiastically can do all this in the midst of the toughest times we've known, so can many more. And what a different trade we could have then.