The Crown, St Albans

Written by: Sarah Milward
Date added: Wed, 17/02/2016 - 14:06

Get it right for customers

After a successful career in IT and publishing, a friend approached Paul Wigham and asked him to invest in his pub. As Paul began to get more involved, he realised that good business principles would be required to make the pub a success and decided that he had all the skills needed to do it himself.

His decision to run his own pubs paid off. ‘It’s been hard work, but I’m proud of the fact that I now have 24 pubs managed by my company, All Our Bars,’ says Paul. ‘I’ll be the first to say I have made mistakes along the way, but it’s important to learn from them and apply that knowledge next time.’

Paul added The Crown in St Albans to his growing portfolio, which opened again recently after an extensive refurbishment. ‘This is quite an affluent area and people have plenty of choice where to drink, so I had to make The Crown somewhere they wanted to visit. Although I have a background in finance, I describe myself as a ‘reluctant accountant’ – I get a feeling for what will work and then keep an eye on the numbers to make sure things are OK.’

‘I believe that it’s attention to detail that makes all the difference. Customers appreciate it when the little things are right. For example, in the recent refurbishment I realised the women’s toilets were not being finished to the level my customers would expect, so I made sure they were upgraded. If it’s important to customers, then it’s important to me too.’

‘While the pub was closed we had time to recruit new members of the team who would be working alongside some of the existing staff who were staying on. I’m a firm believer in training and decided that everybody should be re-trained – even if they had worked here before. I was really impressed with the level of training we were given and have already talked to the training team about making sure that we put in place an on-going programme to keep everybody up-to-date. I’m passionate about delivering the highest level of service so this make good business sense for me.’

‘We stock a large number of premium spirits and beers, I think that’s where our pub will start to set itself apart from our competitors in the area. It isn’t enough to stick a bottle on a shelf and hope it’s going to sell. Customers paying for a premium drink want excellent service and need to know the story behind the brand that they are buying. I make sure that all my team know about the products they’re selling, so they can talk about the drink and serve it perfectly. It’s all part of the experience that customers are paying for.’

‘Since we have re-opened, the business has transformed. Customers talk – so people already know about us and it looks like they are saying great things. I couldn’t be more delighted!’