Real Life Story – Building A Solid Pub Business In Norfolk

pub tenancy, running a pub
Written by: Pub Partners Team
Date added: Tue, 16/10/2018 - 10:00

A popular misconception of the pub tenancy model, is that once a licensee has taken on a pub the pub company just collects the rent and leaves them to get on with running the business by themselves.

At Greene King this couldn’t be further from the truth! We have a whole range of different ways we support our pub tenants to help them build a solid pub business that provides them with the rewards they want. In this real life story we share how we’re helping one couple create a great business for themselves, by providing business support, training and capital investment.

Support And Investment For The Crown Inn, Gayton, Norfolk

Lisa and Neil Staples took over the Crown Inn at Gayton earlier this year having previously run their own small business. They were looking for a new challenge and taking on a pub was something they felt they had the skills to do; they knew the pub and hospitality industry and were also experienced business owners.

Although the Crown wasn’t their first choice of pub, Greene King were prepared to work with the couple to help them create a solid business that works for them. Neil says:

“We’ll be honest and say that this wasn’t our first choice of business as we were looking for more of a ‘party’ pub. But we knew the Crown well, as it was only a few miles from where we live, and Greene King promised to invest money into the business to help support us. It was good advice as we have ‘learned the ropes’ in a business that suits us well.”

 When there’s planned investment for a pub it can be tempting to dive in straightaway and start renovating and refurbishing the pub. But in many cases it’s a good idea to trade as the pub stands, and use that time to get a better understanding of your business, customers, and what works in your specific pub. That’s what Lisa and Neil did:

“…having been here for a season, we are starting to get a feel for how the business works. It’s too easy to get excited by the plans and overlook some of the practicalities – for example, when the restaurant is busy there is too much congestion around the doorway that overcrowds the bar. As a result, Greene King is changing the plans to make a separate entrance and ensure a better flow.”

Help With Developing A Profitable Food Offer

Lisa and Neil have also taken advantage of Greene King’s training courses. Although they had run their own business before, they were keen to get as much knowledge as possible about the industry and running a pub. One area that Lisa and Neil found particularly useful was measuring profitability, increasing margins on food, and putting in checks and balances so they can quickly act if they notice a downturn in profits:

“We were introduced to the Pub Partners Food & Supplies Service has been great for us too and has really helped to drive margin from our food. Once we were set up, everything has been easy to order and the dishes are simple to prepare. The Crown was known for its epic Sunday lunches and we can still continue with this tradition by ordering from Greene King. However, now we knew how to check our margins, we realised that another great tradition of serving discounted leftovers on Monday wasn’t earning us any money. Sometimes we were ordering spares, so we had enough leftovers, which didn’t make business sense.”

Drawing On Their Previous Experience And Skills

With a background in website design and digital marketing, Lisa and Neil haven’t needed much support with marketing their pub. In fact their original business plan included some innovative ideas for attracting customers and building a loyal customer base; including adding some quirky hen houses and using the hens (and their personalities) as a marketing tactic.

This, as well as other elements in their business plan, is what impressed us about Lisa and Neil – their creativity and original thinking is what we’re looking for in new pub tenants. With their experience running their own business too, we could see that they had good transferrable skills and great ideas for making a success of the Crown.

To get inspiration and see what their doing so successfully at the Crown Inn, check out Lisa and Neil's social media channels:

Instagram - @crowngayton

Twitter - @gaytoncrown

Facebook - @gaytoncrown

Having now been at the Crown for almost a year, Lisa and Neil with Greene King’s support will soon be embarking on the planned investment project. Watch this space for more news, as this pub and its tenants are a great example of how you too can take on a pub and build a solid business that’s right for you!

Please get in touch if you would like to discuss running a pub with Greene King.