What Made a Successful Business Woman Change Her Career to Run a Pub?
Date added: Mon, 08/02/2016 - 10:00
What makes a successful businesswoman change her career from running a children’s home to running a pub? It could be about looking for new opportunities, reflecting on your passions or even avoiding early retirement? As Heidi Lane shows with the success of her pub, the Crown & Anchor in Eastbourne, there are plenty of reasons to feel inspired and motivated about changing direction mid-career and running a pub business.
Heidi had a successful career running a children’s home, but she changed her life completely when she saw that a local pub, the Crown & Anchor, needed someone new to run it. ‘I believed I could build a business that I would like to use as a customer,’ she said. ‘Somewhere you get a warm welcome, excellent service and you feel relaxed.’
She admits that some people were doubtful and questioned why she would want to take what seemed to some like a dramatic step. ‘But I had a vision of what I wanted to achieve, and I knew I could make it work.’
Heidi clearly has an instinct for what makes today’s pubs successful, based on her experience of what she herself enjoys when going out. Great pubs in the 21st century are about good food, a welcoming atmosphere and – although there is more competition than ever – they are clear about what they offer.
Key offering to customer
So how much experience in catering would you need to provide that ‘good food’? Heidi thinks other qualities are more important: ‘The key to providing excellent food is consistency,’ she explains. ‘I want all my chefs to work to my standards, so that people know what they’re going to get when they come to the Crown & Anchor. I have a team of talented chefs all serving food to a consistently high standard. When a new chef joins, they’re trained by the Head Chef to deliver the same menu to the same high quality.’
Heidi immediately understood that today’s successful pubs are at the heart of a community. That isn’t always a geographical area (you may decide to run a ‘destination’ pub, for example, which attracts the walking or fine dining community). For the Crown & Anchor, though, Heidi saw the huge potential of getting more involved with local people. ‘I realised that there were many university students in the area, and that I could encourage them to use the pub more by sponsoring their sports teams – everything from boxing to rugby, even the cheerleaders!’
The pub had already made an impact in the community, but Heidi wanted to do more. ‘So I got involved in the regeneration committee. It’s important that I help to raise the profile of the neighbourhood, because I love it here and take pride in it. I want others to share in my belief.’
When it came to refurbishing the Crown & Anchor, Heidi particularly appreciates the way Greene King involved her. ‘They made the decision to invest. Then their designers worked closely with me and listened to what I wanted. Jointly, we’ve created an authentic-looking pub that is also modern and welcoming. The space is divided into three separate zones, and we have a sports room with big TV screens. We can now make the most of our first floor function room, too. It’s great for holding events and celebrations – where else would you get a sea view like that? People booked the space from the start – it’s proving to be really popular.’
‘I’m proud of the fact that the Crown & Anchor is now right for so many people – from students to tourists and local businesses. They all recognise it’s a great pub!’
The local community clearly agrees. Heidi was voted ‘East Sussex Business Woman of the Year’. And the pub’s financial results say it all: beer sales are up 300% since she took over (plus the extra profits from food and venue hire, too!).
If you’re ready to close the door on your current career, that doesn’t have to mean retirement. You could get so much more out of the next few years of your life if you consider the option of running your own pub.