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On the North Norfolk coast in the seaside town of Sheringham lies The Two Lifeboats, a beachside pub popular with locals and visitors alike. Tim Joudrey has been a Star Pubs & Bars licensee at The Two Lifeboats for 11 years and, in his own words, has “never looked back”. Tim understands the importance of taking an entrepreneurial approach to running a pub business and creating a venue that’s now known across the UK. Below Tim has outlined his key advice in creating an unforgettable experience for customers.

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Know your customers

Tim acknowledges that whilst the Sheringham location is perfect, you can’t rely on it to do the work for you. To provide a fantastic pub experience, you need to know your customers. (39)

“The most important thing is what the customers want,” says Tim.  He spent time visiting pubs across Norfolk, speaking with patrons and understanding what they look for and how he could reflect that at  The Two Lifeboats. On the back of his research and with the autonomy to do what they wanted with the menu, Tim and the team looked at their food and drink offering.

“We became more food orientated and that’s paid off incredibly. Our signature dish has to be the traditional Fish & Chips overlooking the sea and the beach,” he added.  As well as the food “the cocktails are also a big winner here,” according to Tim, with some of The Two Lifeboat’s signature serves garnished with a side of candyfloss in a cone and nostalgic sweets, giving a nod to the pub’s coastal location.

As well as having a sharp understanding of your customer base, it’s important to be a part of the local area, as pubs are often seen as pillars of the community. Tim recommends getting stuck into the day-to-day activities of the town or city your pub is situated and support great causes in the area that embody the ethos of your business. “We wanted to support some local charities and we do in many ways. The one in particular is the local RNLI which is next door but one to us,” added Tim. The Two Lifeboat’s support of the local RNLI helps the pub and its team in becoming closer and more involved in the community.

Master the marketing

Brand and personality are key to a venue’s success. It doesn’t only give a pub a strong and recognisable identity, it also means that your venue will stand out from the competition, leading to increased footfall and ultimately a boost in sales.

Being keen on the water and with a prime location on the beachfront, Tim wanted the location of The Two Lifeboats to be reflected in its offering: “I wanted it to be a little bit vintage and very nautical and that was my inspiration. It gave me the chance to put my own stamp on a pub and I wanted to create something slightly continental.” The carefully curated interiors and strong personality throughout the pub echoes the heritage of the area and creates a venue that people instantly recognise and want to visit time and time again.

As well as building a strong personality for The Two Lifeboats, perfecting the branding and marketing is critical according to Tim, “branding and marketing are very important to me – almost everything you see will be branded. From our menus to our cutlery holders, we have our brand logo all over the place. We use it on absolutely everything, including social media”, ensuring consistent visibility and giving The Two Lifeboats a brand that is recognised across the UK. (41)

Build a business for all seasons

Making sure you can make your pub operate fruitfully all year-round and keeping close attention on the details is a must. Whilst summer is a busy and bustling time, to make your venue a success, consider implementing innovative and enticing offerings in the quieter months to make your pub business sustainable.

At The Two Lifeboats, Tim and the team are trying something new for the quieter season this year, “we’re looking at creating something a little different for out of season, so we’re going to create a gourmet season with more bespoke dishes, including perhaps a Spanish night one month, Italian night, French night, to keep it interesting. And then during the hours where we’re not so busy, we’re going to have an ‘early bird’ menu.” Listening to your own customers and what they want will allow you to be creative with your offering and ensure that your pub is busy all year round.

Create an empowered team

The hospitality industry is all about the people within it.  A valued and inspired team is vital to the success of a pub and will help to create a successful business, even in the quieter months.  It is important to ensure that you are hiring the right people and providing them with an environment for them to thrive.  This will help ensure that they stay with you for longer. 

At The Two Lifeboats, Tim prioritises supporting his team with full training and awarding the team to help keep morale and motivation high: “they're very, very loyal to us. And we are to them.” The Two Lifeboats’ managers, Stephan and Anna Marriot, have been in hospitality for almost twenty years and their passion for food, hospitality, drinks, and the guest experience is infectious and replicated with the rest of the staff.  Having an engaged and supported team will ensure they have pride in their work and want the pub and people involved to succeed. This in turn creates a warm and welcoming atmosphere that customers will recognise, return to and recommend to friends and family. (42)

Working with Star Pubs & Bars

The Two Lifeboats has been built on high standards and an openness to opportunity, which Tim puts down to the support and fairness of his relationship with Star Pubs & Bars. “What I like about Star Pubs & Bars, is that you can have as little or as much help as you can possibly want, it’s a great relationship.” Star Pubs & Bars believes your pub should feel like your pub. The team is available behind the scenes to give you the assistance and advice you need, when you need it, to make your pub business a success, whilst allowing you the freedom to operate as a true pub entrepreneur.

Since first taking on The Two Lifeboats 11 years ago, Tim has seen the pub go from strength to strength With a clear vision in mind, he was able to bring this to life and create a sensational seaside venue people enjoy and travel to from all over the country.

Are you inspired by Tim to start living your pub dream? Discover more about The Two Lifeboats’ story and start your journey here

Make Your Mark: On Tour

Star Pubs & Bars has been on the road this summer, travelling across the UK to bring to life some of the brilliant stories from its licensees and how they’ve made their mark to create successful pub businesses. From buzzing city centre bars to popular pubs on the coast, each and every Star Pubs & Bars licensee has a unique story to tell about how they got into the industry and created a venue they – and their customers – have always dreamed of. Paired with industry-leading support and a range of different business models to choose from to suit you, Star Pubs & Bars’ proposition provides you with an unmissable opportunity.

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