How to kill your business

It was a gorgeous summer evening last Friday, and for the second week running, Sas and I decided to go to the local pub…well, why not!

It’s a lovely old pub right on the river, that went out of business some time ago, and was brought back to life with great fanfare several years later, but sadly it seems without any of the lessons learned around why it went out of business in the first place.

It’s very nicely done out, with a separate restaurant area, a lovely beer garden, and a big car park…all in a lovely village setting and on the main thoroughfare between Bedford and Northampton.

What it doesn’t have is a management team with any real clue about what it takes to attract and delight their customers.

Which brings me back to last Friday evening…

So there we were enjoying a Peroni in the sunshine, the garden filling nicely with the after-workers, and the school-holidayers, all dying to quench their thirst, and maybe stay and have a bite to eat. It was a lovely relaxing environment, and as people started to order food, you could tell that there was real potential that many would make an evening of it.

Sadly, the pub had other ideas.

Just after 7.15, having been met by friends, we decided that we would eat there, and so I went to the bar to get menus…only to be informed by a rather bolshy, frazzled-looking woman behind the bar, that they had ‘run out of food’!

At 7.15 on a lovely summer Friday evening, with the restaurant completely empty!

I asked about the pizzas that they serve from a separate kitchen in the garden…’we’ve run out of bases’. And ‘No we can’t make any more…have you any idea how long it takes to make those bases?’

At that point another group of people walked through the door, which caused the woman to throw her hands in the air, with a ‘Where are all these people coming from?’

Falty Towers ring a bell??

Needless to say, we, and most of the other groups left to find food elsewhere. We spent £100 between us at a local curry house. Goodness knows what they lost in total.

It left me angry. People used to travel for miles to eat at the two pubs in our village – bad management and the recession (to be fair) drove them both out of business – and now they are back, with the goodwill of the village, and the local area behind them, and they are making the same mistakes again.

For me there are 3 lessons for all of us from this tale of woe…and an empty stomach.

  1. Have good systems that ensure that the business runs smoothly whether you are there or not; that ensure you plan effectively for potential business, and that you make the most of it; that ensure you have enough product to meet potential demand, and enough staff to service it; that give your customers a great experience.
  2. Train your people in your systems, including your customer service systems, and only put those people who are excellent with your customers, in a position to work with them. [It turns out ‘the woman’ was an interim chef, who had been left in charge of the restaurant while the manager was away!] Set high standards for your people to follow.
  3. Be flexible and adapt to changes and opportunities.  Many pubs jump on the football bandwagon, but very few seem aware of the potential of local events, national events, or changes in the weather.  In this example, the pub didn’t even learn from the success of the week before and adapt to it, losing hundreds of pounds as a result!

The death of this business will be an inside job.Self sabotage will kill it. Make sure self sabotage does not kill yours.

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Marianne Page

Marianne is the author of three books, and is currently working on her fourth, whilst regularly writing her blog, we hope you enjoy it :-)


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