Winning is better than just “taking part!”

Young stylish businessmanSince the dawn of the professional era in sports the focus for the spectator has generally been on the spectacle of the event, whether it be football, motor racing or even darts. And as media has become more sophisticated and accessible there is hardly a gap when sport of some kind is not available to be watched and enjoyed.

So you can imagine the outcry across pubs and sitting rooms across the country when ITV decided that switching from the last tension-filled game of the French Open final wasn’t a priority so they turned it off. A “spokesman” was quick to point out that things had gone “… over the scheduled broadcast time etc etc” … but cynics may suggest that there was some technician sitting in front of a darkened console, who was not interested in tennis, who merely just flicked a switch according to the roster he had in front of him instead of actually thinking about the result of his action – after all, public relations aren’t his responsibility.

Perhaps there will be a different, tennis-loving “techie” on duty at ITV while Wimbledon is on.

Gone are the days too, when the result of a match tended to be played along the lines of the Olympic Creed, “The most important thing … is not to win but to take part …” This won’t sit well with many supporters of some teams at the World Cup in Brazil. You won’t get much of a smile from Roy Hodgson’s lads by telling them that it was only a game, and wasn’t it nice to take part?

Professionals who strive for success in any field will tell you that winning is everything. Even in the hospitality trade, success is measured in results and successful results usually translate into profits. Jon Rutter and his team of professional stocktakers can show you many examples of this truth. You can make the best soufflé in the world but if you’re not selling it for a profit it’s not contributing to your success.

Occasionally some strive for success without proper planning or attention to detail and then are found wanting. Like the holidaymakers who thought that climbing up a mountain in the Nevis Range was a bit of a stroll and had only packed their enthusiasm. They had to be rescued. If you happen to find a pair of flip-flops on the side of a Aonoch Mor sometime, they will be the ones a rescuer chucked away in anger as he had to carry their owner down on a stretcher.

But planning and strategy, while vital in any business, can be a bit like smoke-and-mirrors if you’re not careful and want to give the impression of prudential management, while in reality nothing changes. The prime example is the FIFA Exco (sport, again) who have decided that the recommendation of the Ethics Committee should be adhered to and that the awarding of bonuses should be banned. So they have stopped taking bonuses. Instead they have given themselves a 100% pay rise.

One punter commented, “Nice work if you can get it … but why do we even have FIFA Exco members being paid a salary? Oh yes, it’s for the love of the beautiful game.

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Bins, beer and regulations – it’s tough being a politician!

Don’t you just hate dodging bins and bags that are left out all over the pavement waiting for collection? It’s dodge this one and step into the road to miss that one – all as a result of the regulations (don’t even mention Brussels) imposed on the consumer. You can’t do this and you must do that in an effort to recycle or eradicate waste. After a long campaign it appears that plastic bags are now going to be charged for at the supermarket – at 5p a pop – in an effort to deter people from using new ones each time they shop.

They say that the money raised will go to charity. But, small and medium sized businesses with less than 500 employees will be excluded in order to protect independent retailers. What happens when these retailers get so busy with extra customers seeking to avoid the charge-per-bag that they have to hire more staff to cope and then exceed the magic 500 number? But I’m sure the regulators have thought that one through.

Image: Denis Slogar

Image: Denis Slogar

I wonder if Jon Rutter and his team of professional stocktakers are having to start suggesting to their customers ways they can provide packaging that meets all the regulatory requirements but still keeps the customers happy and prevents their purchases from falling on the floor at some inconvenient time?

Having dodged all the bins and bags on the way to work, can you imagine the irritation commuters faced when they had to dodge a hoard of press photographers sprawled all over the pavement outside a pub in London the other day? The gentlemen of the press were excluded from entering as some politicians were in there – no other punters either mind, just the politicos and their entourage as they sought to put on a brave public face in the wake of the election results. Nick & Vince were all smiles and even had some froth on their lips from the different brews they were sampling, mild and bitter.

The pub had possibly agreed to host the event on the off-chance that the press corps would surge in afterwards to take shelter and fortify themselves for the next stage in their busy day of seeking news once the main players had departed in their limos. I suppose the landlord of the Queen’s Head in London had told his stocktaker to factor-in an empty pub for the chaps do their photo-op in, ‘but make sure the keg of bitter is fully charged AND that the press lads have plenty of snacks and ale available for afters!’ It just didn’t seem to be as jolly an affair as when Nigel visits a pub, though.

What the England Football squad will have plenty of though – their stocktaker has seen to it – is their favourite sauce and butter, if they want it. Gone are the dietary restrictions imposed by the previous coach. Roy has rescinded the ‘no sauce’ ban and ketchup is back on the list. Some of the lads also like fast food and it appears that’s okay too. So hopefully, with their concentration off “what’s for dinner, coach?” the games will deliver the desired results too.

Roy might even throw in some of the prize-winning pies from The Chestnut Horse to keep the boys on track. Jon Allen has just won the “Pub Pie of the Year” with his Welsh cob pie (Wayne Rooney would like that). The pub has 42 pies on the menu – all named after breeds of horses!

How does Tom Kerridge get to be a judge at these events, lucky chap?

My greengrocer’s gone underground …

“I can get some veggies and micro-greens for you, Mate. Even fresher than the ones from Covent Garden! Oh no, Guv – these ones are from a special mate of mine who’s managed to get his hands on an old air raid shelter. He’s now using it for a farm. Yes, underground. But not just any old underground. This place is using hydroplanes or something. And he’s growing all the greens you’ll need and not even a slug’s bite on anything. He’s clever, this lad. There’s no sand and no pests and he uses a special light that makes things grow. And he’s got that Australian cheffie lass, Michelle Roo, on board too. Don’t roll your eyes like that, Rodney, this is the pukka deal!”

09419118b5It would only take about 15 minutes for Del Boy to scoot over to Clapham from the flat in Peckham to pick up a load of greens from his suppliers, Richard Ballard and Steven Dring. They have managed to secure an old air-raid shelter and have embarked on a venture that will revolutionise the growing of herbs and vegetables right under the heart of London. Michel Roux Jr has teamed up with these entrepreneurs in setting up this garden that is aiming to produce top quality fresh herbs, vegetables and flowers that have never seen the light of day during the growing process. The proximity of this underground farm also ensures a pest-free environment and greatly reduced “food miles” owing to its central London location. It’s the sort of hare-brained scheme Del Boy would have been proud of – if only he’d thought of it first!

But it might have been Del Boy’s advice some landlords followed. Instead they possibly ignored the good advice of their stocktakers and decided to screen Sky Sports matches without the proper commercial viewing agreement in place, have been hit with a total £19 000.00 bill by the courts for their indiscretion. This detail would be one of the things that Jon Rutter and his colleagues would advise their customers to factor in to their planning. For those who provide sports coverage for their customers, this case proves the absolute necessity to plan carefully and ensure that all the correct licenses that they need are in place.

Stocktakers all over would agree that strategy and planning in the Industry never cease – especially with the news just out that April will see the implementation of minimum pricing of alcohol in supermarkets and shops. While some might argue that low supermarket prices have been factors in keeping people out of pubs and restaurants, with the advent of this move, those same pubs and restaurants might need to up their game in their plans to attract punters to their premises back by offering value for their £. Pubs and premises all over are trying different things from grabbing a pint at nine in the morning at a service station pub, to the round-the-clock-drinking rules that many are trying to get changed. In Blackpool, for instance, some are advocating early morning restriction orders preventing sales between 3 am and 6 am. Others are petitioning a relaxation of rules during the World Cup so that punters can enjoy watching the matches in their favourite pub.

It was jolly inconsiderate of Sepp Blatter to arrange the World Cup to be held in a time zone that causes so many problems to English fans and their publicans. I mean, who is really geared up to start watching a match at 11 pm? But it’s probably a good thing the PM has intervened and overruled Norman Baker’s refusal to extend pub hours.

There could have been a lot of miserable fans being chucked out the pub at closing time with the score on 1-0 in England’s favour!

Don’t tell the Poles, but we’re off to Rio!

If you thought stocktakers only pop in to the pub occasionally to count the bottles in the back, or analyse the till slips you’d be wrong. While helping owners to devise strategies of how to maintain the balance of stable profits while keeping their customers sweet at the same time is challenging, Rutters are also involved in community affairs. They played a part in the “Beautify the Dip” initiative the other day. Some children from the local school presented their ideas on what they saw as ways to jazz up the area.

I’m sure Jon Rutter and Hertford Junior, together with the Committee will put more thought into their beautification project than was shown by the Pontypridd council who, without community involvement, decided to lay some new paving. All in all, a good idea. The problem was that the new paving was so crazy that pedestrians couldn’t distinguish where the pavement ended and where the kerb was, and 20 shoppers were injured or hospitalised after tripping up.

Another victory for “beautification” seems to have been won in the Yorkshire Dales too. Some wind turbines that haven’t worked for years but have been left to spoil all the photographs of the area have finally been removed, much to the delight of the local residents and those in the tourist industry who can now rightfully boast in their brochures of an “unspoiled landscape.” And the opponents of the wind farm project will no doubt say, “I told you it wouldn’t work!”

The other thing that probably won’t work in the UK is the idea that Nicolas Nauman, head chef at “Eat” in Brooklyn, New York has introduced to the restaurant. Once a month there is a four course meal during which no conversation is permitted. The chef justifies this by suggesting that the enjoyment of the food should not be spoiled with conversation or other noise and will give diners an opportunity to enjoy their food in a way that they might not otherwise have. One wonders how to order – is it a “set menu” so that the whole evening doesn’t dissolve into gestures, pointing, eye-rolling and eventually frustrated arm waving? Clearly, not a venue one for one of Gordon Ramsay’s TV shows.

Image: Marcelo Mokrejs

Image: Marcelo Mokrejs

One would also hope that last night was not one of the restaurant’s “silent meal” evenings with a couple of England fans dining there. In silence. But surreptitiously following the Wembly match on their mobiles held on their laps. It would have been a bit disrupting to the rest of the dining room, and Chef Nick in particular, when England scored against Poland and secured their place in Brazil, with the silence being shattered with screams of, “Yes, yes, yes – Gerrard you beauty!

Wembly erupted! Noise from both lots of fans, fireworks (tsk, tsk), chanting, flags et al. Roy Hodgson must have shed a stone in sweat and by chewing his nails off (he DID say he’d died 1000 deaths) and now England are rated 22/1 to win the World Cup. Hopefully the odds will shorten, but it would be wise to put the tenner on now.