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We spent the day with one of our Area Business Managers, Linda Goodfellow, to see what a day out in trade is all about. With a wealth of industry experience and 12 years at Daniel Thwaites, Linda’s knowledge, expertise and guidance are second to none to her portfolio of 41 sites and customers.
“There isn’t a job description that fits this role. The demand and spectrum of challenges are so varied and unique. You need a skill set that can continuously adapt and develop. Every customer’s needs are different, and ultimately what they need from you has to be tailored.”
The first visit of the day was to a site undergoing a Capital Expenditure refurbishment. One of Linda’s key objectives was to make sure her customer’s needs were being met and the refurbishment would be completed on time so the business could get back up and running.
“It’s important to manage expectations and offer reassurance. The customer has to be involved every step of the way so they’re aware of changes and know what’s happening.”
The refurbishment cost comes from an annual budget that Linda has to manage through the entire year. It’s another part of the job that takes constant assessment and decision making to know where and when to spend the money and that investment is the correct option. Whether it’s a design-led refurb, a surprise repair that’s needed, or property damage that’s affecting trade, an issue can arise at any time. All investments have to be planned and presented to the board of Directors for approval to show that the outlay will give a minimum of 20% return.
Throughout the day we made short stops; from visiting a pub where the customers were unsure about paperwork and needed advice, to completing a variety of tasks including cellar standards audits. This is a new checklist process that the pub operations team have recently put in place. It relates to maintaining and monitoring the area and advising customers on how to keep the pub’s cellar and its operation at a high standard. It’s a great way to cement a positive attitude towards following set procedures.
“Being personable, honest and offering constant encouragement should not be underestimated. Using all of these qualities is a great way to keep your customers realistic but also help them strive for more in their business approach.”
There was also a visit to a recently reopened pub that provided an excellent opportunity to get a feel for how the opening night went and how the customers were feeling and settling in. Reassuring the customer is essential during opening week so that perception and expectations are managed. Linda’s focus was clear; build on the success of the opening and encourage her customer to maximise awareness by using all their social media platforms.
Linda’s entire attention is given directly to the customer for however long, or short, the visit requires. Some are planned, some just an unannounced drop in but the energy from the customer towards Linda, was nothing but positive and appreciative that help is available.
“It’s the customer’s business and it’s up to them how they want to run it. I’m here to offer guidance and suggestions on how to make it the best it can be and how to constantly improve it. Ultimately, it’s all to drive profits for both the pub and Thwaites.”
Any visit is an opportunity for both Linda and the customer to have a quick catch up on current status. It’s a great way to discuss different topics including layout, operating standards, external appearance, marketing opportunities, and even talking through how to merchandise a bar better through new signage.
Especially on the visits to sites in Ramsbottom, Linda asked her customers about the local area and the developments of recent openings nearby to make sure they were fully aware of their competition. They discussed making changes to keep their business at the forefront of the public visiting this very popular town.
“It’s about making the customer proactive in their approach to the local business landscape. What’s the competition? What are they offering? All of this is important to evaluate their current position and how they can develop and grow to compete and stand out.”
Frequent support encourages trust in the working relationship between both the customer and ABM and is important for success.
Contact time varies depending on the customer. If they’re new and it’s their first time running a pub, an ABM’s contact is more regular with weekly visits to get them settled and reassure them with support.
For customers confidently in the stride of running their business, it could be a monthly visit; it ultimately depends on the issues that may present themselves or how the pub is performing. The ABM constantly monitors to see where advice is needed.
Linda visits every one of her sites quarterly for a full business review. This is a regular meeting to go through every element of the business and set specific targets and objectives.
An afternoon can be filled with ad hoc calls, as they’re a great and simple way to check in with pubs; ABM’s need to be available 24 hours a day in case any situation arises.
If a crisis happens out of hours, the ABM is the first point of contact. It could be an emergency with electrics or gas, flooding, or even police issues or medical issues. Linda has emergency contact numbers to find the right contractor for the work needed.
For Linda, it’s important to find the right people that have a mixture of great customer service skills, whilst also having the ability to be business focused. Knowing overhead figures, being aware of stock and how to improve and increase profit figures is essential.
Ultimately, the question for the customer is why they want to run that specific pub and what are they planning to make it succeed. Their answer is essential to Linda during the recruitment process.
“Running a pub isn’t easy. It’s a lifestyle, 24 hours day in day out and not simply just pulling pints. You have to know your business inside out, and from the get-go know what you’re going to offer. You need to monitor and adapt constantly to get the most out of your business to make sure it’s successful and profitable.
Personality and character are also important. You want someone who’s comfortable interacting with customers and promoting the pub. But, they have to have a strong sense of leadership and ability in growing and developing a team around them. Delivering excellent customer service is an essential attitude for any customer going into the industry.”
As an ABM, two days are never the same for Linda. It’s a demanding, but highly rewarding job with fantastic pubs that are part of her diverse portfolio. Linda is part of a team of six ABM’s that cover the length of the country and help support our fantastic properties.
If you’d like to speak to a member of our pub recruitment team, contact us here, or alternatively take a look at our current available pub opportunities.
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