Give me a pub team anytime! (… so says Roy)

Image: Felipe Dan Reis

Image: Felipe Dan Reis

Any place that runs speed-eating competitions would probably have their stocktakers tearing their hair out over pre-ordering quantities for the event. Especially if the world champion competitive eater is expected in town. But in order to be recognized, she’d probably have to wear a notice saying “I’m the Champion” because the petite, size 8 mum-of-four doesn’t look like she could shovel away a 5000 calorie burger in six½ minutes! The “Stellanator” consisted of six slabs of meat, slices of cheese, six fried eggs, 12 slices of bacon, lettuce, tomatoes, mayonnaise, pickles, grilled onions, peanut butter, jalapenos and then there was the bun (top & bottom) to keep it all together.

It all started off as a way of proving someone wrong – as one does – and things escalated from there to 9 lb burritos, 54-inch pizzas and more. I’m still trying to get my head around how she manages to work her way through a 12 lb sandwich and 1 lb of fries in 53 minutes!

The question many ask is, “Why?” But Mollie Schuyler does it for the money. In January she scooped £17 800.00 for guzzling 363 chicken wings in 30 minutes.

Money also seems to be the motivation for becoming a professional football player. You’d think that earning 200 grand a week would be enough. But no, Yaya Touré “wants his cake and eat it” too! But Manchester City insist that they did give him a cake to celebrate his birthday. I didn’t realize that birthday #31 was such an important milestone.

Who would be a football coach? Especially when your star player is miffed because no one (allegedly) gave him his birthday bumps? And especially if you’re Louis van Gaal, the new coach of Manchester United when the National Coach has said that he could beat Man U with a pub team if he had six months to prepare! And he’d probably only have to pay them in pints and crisps, too.

But for that matter, who’d be a politician when things go wrong for some of them the way they did this week. You had a leader who didn’t know who he was there to support, nor who was running that particular council – all caught on two separate occasions on TV and on radio. Awkward.

Or the politician that organised for steel band who were all set to play their tunes and entertain the crowds when they discovered that the political party that had contracted them wasn’t who they wanted to support. “Pack the drums away, lads, we’re outta here!” I wonder if they had to return their fee?

Jon Rutter would be the first to tell you how imperative careful planning and good strategy is in running a successful pub, restaurant or club. Sportsmen and politicians could do well to take note of his principles and ethos – if they did, they’d end up with the cake they wanted, knowing what candidate they were there to support and they’d have had music to dance to as well.

The beautiful game showcase kicks off in Brazil in 21 days time – hopefully the hosts have their careful planning and good strategy all in place. 

Innovate … or go backwards!

Innovate!

Innovate!

Richard Branson has expressed the view that “if you aren’t innovating, you’re going backwards.”

Now that all the fuss about the “new-year-resolutions” has died down and everyone is back to normal, creative stocktakers all over the country are planning strategies to continue to help their customers stay in profit in spite of indications from some that people have less money to spend on going out to pubs and restaurants. So people like Jon Rutter and his team are determined not to let their 2013 efforts be “good enough” for their clients. Results show that regular stocktaking provides the accuracy and experience needed that helps improve a venue’s profitability, minimises waste, and enables the owner to concentrate on the key role of running the establishment. But using a stocktaker like Rutters doesn’t absolve the owner from the need to come with their own ideas to innovate.

We’ve all seen the videos that have gone viral on social media about men proposing to their sweethearts, or the flashmob announcements etc. Recently there have also been couples using these means to announce to their family the arrival of a child. The most recent is the couple in Toledo, Ohio who have produced a horror film type trailer announcing the “Bun-in-the-Oven … Coming June 2014.” Instead of just posting a message to their family saying, “Relax, we’re pregnant” this was a clever way of turning the announcement into something unusual and memorable. The video has had over 135 000 views and people are sharing it all over social media.

An innovative landlord, restrauteur, club or guest-house owner might consider making their own unusual and innovative video clip to announce something. And the wonderful thing about the way social media works is that even if something is not produced by Pinewood Studios or a professional videographer, if it’s clever and a quirky enough to get someone’s attention, it will be “liked” and “shared” and “advertised” with little or no effort made by the originator of the video. Today, using mobile phones and some basic free-editing software, anyone can make and publish a video. All it needs is for someone to think a little bit differently to the way they have been and then to have the “oomph” to try something different. So, landlords, don’t be surprised if your stocktaker comes to you with an idea about producing a short video clip of your chef making his special, or of the local choir singing in the grounds of your garden to advertise your community involvement – they’re just thinking “out the box” for you for 2014!

One wrong way of “thinking-out-of-the-box” was when Michael Gearty supplied a Dreambox decoder to a Nottingham pub. The set top box allowed Sky Sports coverage to be shown via an internet connection. The problem was, there was no Commercial Viewing Agreement with Sky Business and Mr Gearty is now watching TV from a prison cell. It has been reported that over 1500 licencees have been convicted for showing Sky Sports without a commercial agreement.

There’s innovation and there’s incarceration – the difference is stark!

(PS: There’s no license needed if you produce, publish and broadcast your own video!)

“Profit” – isn’t a dirty word

Put any butcher, baker, landlord, or stocktaker against a wall and grill them on the cost of things and they will probably be able to reel off the list of items relevant to their trade and where to get the best value. Put a prime Minister on a radio show and he can’t even tell you the price of a loaf of bread (he bakes his own, you see) but he can plug the flour he uses and the machine too. He just doesn’t know what they cost.

Image: Mike Korn

Image: Mike Korn

But the PM will be able to confidently give you all the low-down on this or that statute, the nuances of a particular bill before Parliament or the intricacies of the trade agreements with another country. And it’s quite interesting how politicians will talk of paying millions of £’s for something as though they were discussing the cost of a packet of crisps, but get very serious expressions on their faces and talk about the generous increase in the NMW of 12p per hour to a hefty £6.30.

If you want to turn your hard-earned cash into a profit, though, just don’t send the PM or Boris off to the shops together. The only one making a huge profit from their custom would be the shop owner.

Songwriters Kandor & Ebb wrote “Money Makes the World go Round” for Cabaret, but few would disagree with the sentiment. Without it, you can’t live at the level you want to. With it, you can! Anyone who is “in business” is probably constantly working on ways to ensure that they have an excess of the stuff by applying Mr Micawber’s recipe for happiness – spending less than you have, instead of more. Jon Rutter’s teams of stocktakers know what it’s like to juggle the options and ensure that their customers work on Mr Micawber’s happiness formula rather than on Dicken’s other character, Pip, who “… began to contract a quantity of debt …

Perhaps this is what lead to Ben Hatch labelling himself as Britain’s stingiest dad, with his cost-cutting measures and frugality. His account of the tricks and ploys he uses makes fascinating reading and will have many raising their eyebrows in disbelief or astonishment. From the way he sneaks his own food snacks into Disneyland Paris (strictement interdite) to shopping almost exclusively at Oxfam, his accounts of cost cutting is ingenious. And it stems back to the example he learned from his mother. One of the lines Ben writes jumps out when he says, “… children don’t need expensive things. They just need love and your time.” He is quick to point out that his family do not lack anything. He just has a different way of approaching spending habits in order to stay in profit.

Sky is also doing things differently. They have launched the new Pub Challenge App in an effort to help landlords with their profitability. It’s designed to search for nearby Sky Sports venues that are showing Premier matches and also to incentivise patrons to spread their custom around so that they qualify for prizes and special deals.

And with the Christmas season fast approaching, be on the lookout for the calendars that are being sold to make profits for various charities and causes. Over the years, though, diverse groups have had to resort to ‘nude shoots’ as a way to get their calendars sold. Remember the Calendar Girls? That was the start. Then there have been the Troopie Wives, the Firemen, the Armed Forces etc. The latest is the Foxy Fillies Naked Posh Girls calendar, from the Jed Forest Hunt. All on horseback or holding shotguns or hanging round 4×4’s.

I wonder if there’ll be a Naked Pub Landlord calendar on the cards soon?

Just a hole in the ground? … no, a marketing opportunity!

The newspapers are so full of doom and gloom lately, about the pub industry, about regulation, about tax, about licensing fees etc etc, so it was refreshing to hear reports on what players in the industry are doing to help.

Enterprise Inn’s Ted Tuppen indicated that about 800 pubs are going to get their “kerb appeal” enhanced. As any real estate agent will tell you, this is the strategy employed to make people want to stop and come in. This is a good plan and can only be of assistance – it’s much nicer to walk in to a place that looks inviting rather than a seedy looking joint, even if the chips are good.

Horse

This presents the perfect opportunity for restaurants and pubs in the vicinity of the Leicester City Council car park where they have just confirmed that “His Grace Richard Plantagenet, King of England and France, Lord of Ireland” met his fate and was unceremoniously dumped into a tight hole in the ground. An enterprising publican or restrauteur could dolly up his frontage and advertise a walking tour of the site, expound a bit on the history of the unfortunate Richard III and then repair to the pub for a “meal of the period” to enhance the experience. A package deal. Now as ridiculous as that might sound to some, there are people from all walks who would pay good money for that type of thing. And it’s current news that Henry VII’s predecessor has been confirmed as ‘the body in the carpark.’ A Shakespeare fan could even quote the “my kingdom for a horse” speech … just don’t let the chef hear!

Slangkop

And for even more enterprising folk, think of the opportunities the Bristol Channel provides for those interested in the history this stretch of water has seen over the centuries. The Gull and Leek is on the market, complete with an 86 acre beer garden! It’s a Victorian pub on an island and probably doesn’t have the problems of having to contend with binge drinkers. It even has its own lighthouse. This could be developed into the type of venue that would make it desirable and exclusive to a particular, targeted clientele. Rutters would gladly ensure that their excellent knowledge and planning skills would enhance the effectiveness of the place. All the owner would have to do would be to ensure a regular means of getting to one of the most remote bars in Britain. The Cardiff Council owns this beautiful place and it’s up for grabs.

The ongoing debate (war) about the screening of sports in bars took a twist too. Sky TV is offering discounts to tenants of certain groups. Probably as a measure to keep folk from using those foreign services. Nothing wrong with discounts, a pity they’re not offered more. Everyone has to make a living and no one really minds a bit of give-and-take in the process. Darragh O’Connor of Kenricks Bar is really smiling. He won the Sky competition and walked off with a years free subscription.

How about some more competitions, Sky?

Just not a competition like the one at the recent Super Bowl party where record-breaking food-wolfer Kobayashi made a pizza disappear in just one minute. Definitely not fine dining!