If one of the golden rules of pubs is ‘This is Hospitality. Be Hospitable’ then fair enough. The nice bloke that I met recently running a pub understood this. He probably, in fact most likely, didn’t give it a second thought but intrinsically just did it and I couldn’t fault his deluded enthusiasm for his customers.
But that wasn’t enough to put bums on seats in his empty pub.
You see, what he didn’t do was delight them. He didn’t set out to excel with brilliant standards, he didn’t do the basics well, he didn’t grasp the concept of chasing excellence and he certainly didn’t understand the importance of consistency. And in a microcosm of the world his competitors are doing it better [and they’re not brilliant it has to be said] and his punters have voted. He’ll be gone soon and yet another pub will be at risk.
This isn’t a review, so no names, and it could apply to one of many thousands of pubs that continually fail their communities. As in a previous post it would be easy to lay the blame at the pub co - the Area Manager, or whatever their title is now, could have done more from the outset. Arguably they could have recruited better, they could have supported better, they could have invested better. With the pressure on time and the pressure to keep the doors open, the relationship was doomed to fail.
But, the real issue lies with the publican who probably didn’t appreciate what he was getting into. He may not have appreciated that in the traditional pub world of the Shires the pub is still the beating heart of the community. And customer loyalty to their local is tested continually with the advent of social media, choice, cheap travel and the allure of the bright lights, amongst many things. Customers are more savvy than they have ever been; for a large swathe of them value isn’t measured in pounds and pence but rather in time spent well. Time spent in the right environment, time spent often subconsciously engaging with and measuring the offer. Customers will decide where to spend their money where they get the most bang for their buck, and experts, investors, analysts and some publicans, in my opinion, have lost sight of this key fact.
And finally, the notion that the profit from a pub business comes off the back of a person to person transaction is increasingly forgotten. And unless rediscovered and supported the trade, especially the traditional pub segment, will continue to flounder. Yes, of course its about return on investment, its a business after all, but if we want returns we need returning customers.