Decisive action is vital if pubs are to survive

By David Elliott

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Business development manager Business development Public house Board of directors

Elliott: take decisions for the long-term of the sector
Elliott: take decisions for the long-term of the sector
As many town-centre pubs and bars recover slowly from the effects of the recent riots, it was disturbing to hear from a couple of pubs that trade has still not returned to previous levels and that customers, especially in the early part of the week, are staying away.

This, coupled with the very poor weather limiting the use of patios and gardens, has placed additional pressure on licensees, especially those outside the managed umbrella. It highlights for me the very fragile nature of our industry and unless action is taken sites will continue to close on an increasing basis.

So what to do? A number of very poor operators will be calling their business development manager (BDM) for additional help and support, and no doubt some will deserve it.

However, as a sector, I don’t believe we are getting it right at all and this was borne out by visiting 12 managed/leased and tenanted pubs of all shapes and sizes just two weeks ago in the Bristol and Bath area, with a mate who was preparing a presentation as part of an interview for a senior marketing role, with responsibilities for helping develop food-led businesses.

These visits were, of course, as customers and we were staggered by the complete lack of external marketing. Where there was some, no link was created internally; menu choice was poor, there was a lack of value for money and no interest in upselling or engaging customers.

Indeed, one of the managed pubs on the outskirts of Bath had just undergone a major capital investment, and if I was the MD, the BDM and operations director would have lots of questions to answer. They had missed nine separate opportunities to improve the business!

My point is that with our industry under such massive pressure, we are not helping ourselves. I accept, of course, that lots of pubs are continuing to do well, but they are now in the much smaller minority.

The simple fact is that customers expect and demand a great experience every time they visit. Disposable income will continue to be tight for a number of years, so ask yourself, “What’s the compelling reason for people to visit my pub”, and if you don’t have one then you have no future in pubs.

Finally, those of you who really care about our industry get off your backside and do something about it, and that means from the boardroom down to the individual member of staff.

Take the decisions for the long-term viability of our sector, demand exceptional service and support, and engage new customers; create that compelling reason to visit and you might just make a difference.

David Elliott is chairman of Quercus Pub Co

Related topics Legislation

Property of the week


£ 60,000 - Leasehold

Busy location on coastal main road Extensively renovated detached public house Five trade areas (100)  Sizeable refurbished 4-5 bedroom accommodation Newly created beer garden (125) Established and popular business...

Follow us

Pub Trade Guides

View more