It’s interesting to see how someone else runs their business – so here are six ideas from some pretty savvy licensees.
At the Pub17 trade show, we listened to Emily Watkins from the Kingham Plough, Chipping Norton, Oxfordshire, Jon Furby, head chef of the Sign of the Angel, Lacock, Wiltshire and Chris Galvin, Michelin-starred chef and one half of the brothers from Galvin Restaurants.
With a handful of thriving food businesses between them, they all had a few tips and tricks up their sleeves. Here’s what we nabbed for you.
1. Don’t ask customers if they want a dessert menu, just hand it to them
Dessert is often a group mentality. Once one person decides they want one, more will join them. Don’t give them the option to turn the menu down, just politely place it on the table and watch their sugar-brains kick in.
2. Serve a 6p sorbet to boost sales of starters and desserts
By serving up a palette cleansing sorbet (which costs just 6p a portion to make) Jon finds that customers are more patient between courses, and more likely to order starters and desserts.
3. Collaborate with others to train your chefs
Chris says it’s important for chefs to experience as much food as possible, so offers a dining swap with other businesses. His chefs get to taste food from other great pubs and in return that pub will get a meal for its chefs at the Green Man in Chelmsford, Essex.
4. Don’t quibble with recruitment companies
Finding kitchen staff seems to be universally a pain. But Emily thinks the best thing is to use a good recruitment company, don’t quibble with fees (to ensure you get the best CVs) and email them weekly with a list of what you’re looking for, so they can stay on top of things. Spending a bit of cash can pay off if you get a valuable long-term employee.
5. Hold hands with suppliers
Especially in a time when Brexit and bad weather means food prices are turbulent. Chris says it pays to ask suppliers what’s good and negotiate prices. You can strike deals by agreeing to take everything they have for the next three weeks. He explains, “If you can protect suppliers it encourages longevity within in the trade. Work together.”
6. Get your locals to taste the menu for a reduced price
Jon organises a five course tasting menu each month at just £25 for the local villagers. They get to try the food and then help spread the word to any tourists about the pub. As Jon says, they are your best marketers.