Keeping your eye on the ball

By The PMA Team

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Supermarket Public house

Charity: don't be a victim
Charity: don't be a victim
It has been tough in the trade for the last couple of years, but retail excellence and innovation is the way to success, says The PMA Team.

Are you master of your own destiny? If you find yourself answering this question in the negative, it might well be that you need to focus on a graceful exit from your pub.

For sure, life in the pub trade has been as difficult as any can remember in the past couple of years. But there is danger in regarding yourself as a victim. Victimhood is stinking thinking — a perilously close neighbour to the full-blown notion that success is impossible because external factors won't allow it.

External forces have been far from kind. Burdensome regulation, escalating beer duty and cut-throat supermarket pricing have piled on the pressure. Some have had justifiable complaints about the share of the profit pie their pubco takes.

However, none of these important issues should distract from the key issue that the entire trade should focus on. How do we go about creating a better experience for our customers? How do we attract more customers, and how do we keep them?

The majority of our journalistic resources on the Morning Advertiser​ are spent — as they should be — on searching out, analysing and reporting on retail success. And, thank goodness, there is lots of it.

Thank goodness, too, that each and every successful licensee whom we approach has the generosity of spirit, without exception, to share their valuable insights with the rest of the trade.

I believe retail excellence and innovation is the rising tide that stands to lift the vast majority of boats off the mud.

A tenanted pubco chief points out that pubs, unlike off-licences, are a "good-sized retail platform". By dint of square footage, inside and out, they lend themselves to reinvention in a way lots of shops can only dream of. The challenge is to look around at your competition to see what ideas can be stolen or adapted — think laterally, be imaginative, trial new ideas, never ever get complacent, keep improving. This mind-set involves, as they say, working on the business rather than in the business.

There have been pubco chiefs as guilty as licensees in failing to be consumer-focused in recent years. For licensees, energy needs redirecting towards more strategic thinking, not wasted on day-to-day frustrations. For the past few weeks MA journalists have toured the UK, visiting pubs that have reached the Great British Pub Awards finals, or finals of the MA200 Awards for the sector's best multi-site operators. They have one thing in common — what can be achieved by licensees who have a talent for delighting customers. Their pubs are an object lesson in the importance of galvanising yourself.

It's time for the trade to rise up warrior-like and snatch away trade from the coffee shops, quick-service restaurants and, yes, supermarkets, by creating compelling reasons to visit the pub.

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