A day in the life of a Greene King BDM
Business Development Manager Yvonne Fraser has worked for Greene King for four years, having previously worked for JD Wetherspoon and SSP. Last year she was awarded Business Development Manager of the Year in the 2017 ALMR Operations Managers Awards. In recent years Greene King BDMs have been shortlisted and have won this prestigious industry award year-on-year, so we are delighted that Yvonne’s hard work and commitment has paid off with another great result.
Pub operators and prospective operators who have not worked with our BDMs before may be wondering what’s so special about our team. We thought we would provide a snapshot of a typical day in Yvonne’s working life to show just how important BDMs are to our pub tenants and lessees.
Supporting Pub Tenants Through The Application Process
Yvonne’s day starts off with a call to arrange a meeting with a new applicant who has applied to run a pub with Greene King. In this case they’ve been waiting a while to find their perfect pub having missed out on an opportunity last year. Yvonne says:
“It can be a bit of a waiting game to find the right pub. However, during this time we get to build a good relationship with prospective tenants and that helps us to be sure they're getting the right pub. I arrange to meet applicants in different pubs so that we can talk about how other operators are running their businesses, what type of pub they want, and what they want to do with it.
“I’ll also put them in touch with other tenants from similar backgrounds and in the same area. I think it’s really important to build relationships with other operators in your part of the country. It can be very isolating running a business, spending long hours at your pub, so having a network of other operators who understand what it’s like and can offer advice and support is really important.”
Typically our BDMs will meet applicants several times before an agreement is signed. These meetings are an opportunity for us to find out more about the applicant and what they’re looking for in a pub, and to go through all the information about running a pub and taking on a tenancy or lease.
We asked Yvonne what she’s looking for when meeting applicants for the first time. She says:
“Personality and character are still important. You want someone who’s great front of house talking to customers, making them feel valued and promoting the pub. But you also need someone who’s good at leading a team: good at development so that there’s a consistently high level of customer service.
“I’m also looking for applicants who understand that the business is changing, that just opening the door is not enough. Pub operators must be prepared to adapt and change, meet demand and changing customer behaviours.
“Operators must also be open to feedback and receptive to new ideas. Ultimately my job is to help our pub operators to be successful, to make money and to drive profits for both the pub and Greene King. I can’t do that if a pub operator doesn’t want that dialogue, and doesn’t want to work in a collaborative way.”
24/7 Support For New Pub Operators
Next on Yvonne’s list of things to do is to visit a pub operator who has recently taken on a new pub. Once an applicant has found a pub, signed an agreement and taken possession of their new pub, the job of the BDM is to be available 24/7 to help them get their business off the ground. Yvonne says:
“In the early days it is essential to be available to help if the operator needs it. I will visit regularly every two weeks to see how things are going, and discuss what’s working and what’s not working.
“With pub operators who are either new to the trade or haven’t worked with Greene King before, they’ll often be questions to do with operational things: like how to use pub systems and where to go for things. I will guide them through our systems and point them in the right direction, and may suggest specific training if there are areas of the business the operator needs more support with.
“Everyone’s different and needs different levels of support, so it’s really important that they know I’m available – always at the end of the phone.”
On-going Support For Operators
Next Yvonne needs to finalise a few details for an Area Meeting to be held later in the month. Yvonne arranges two Area Meetings per year for Greene King pub tenants and lessees in her area, held at a Greene King pub of course!
Area Meetings are an opportunity for Greene King pub operators to network with each other, as well as being an opportunity for our BDMs to talk to operators about different aspects of the business. Yvonne says:
“At our next Area Meeting we will have a couple of presentations talking about PP.net [our online ordering and back office systems], a talk about training opportunities for operators and their staff, and since we’re a heading towards spring we’ll also be reminding operators that it’s now time to think about garden furniture!
“I’ve also invited a number of suppliers to attend so operators can chat to them, but most of all it’s a chance for our operators to get out of their pubs and find out what’s going on!”
Our BDMs work with pub operators with different objectives for their business and different skills and abilities. Some are very active in looking for new opportunities and growing the business, whereas others are quite happy where they are. Yvonne says:
“Even when your business is happily ticking over, you can’t stand still. There are always a couple of things you can do better, and you also need to be aware of what’s going on elsewhere too.
“What your competitors are doing – other pubs, restaurants or coffee shops – affects your business. I try to encourage operators to get out, get some perceptive, and keep an eye on what’s happening locally.”
Support For Multi-Site Operators
Yvonne’s final meeting of the day is with Tracey Parmee at The Woodman near Sevenoaks. Tracey took on this pub alongside her existing pub – The Red Lion at Bletchingley – a few months ago. As someone who has been in the pub trade for many years, Tracey doesn’t need a huge amount of support, but this is her first time running a multi-site operation. Yvonne says:
“One of the key things about taking on another pub is that they need to be no more than 30 – 40 minutes away from each other. I’ve had operators in the past expressing interest in pubs much further away from their current site, it just doesn’t work.
“Tracey has the right set up. The pubs are far enough apart not to compete with each other, but close enough that staff can work at either site. There’s also a certain amount of cross-pollination between the two pubs where regular customers at the Red Lion visit The Woodman and vice versa.”
Both The Woodman and The Red Lion are Greene King pubs, but to be a multi-site operator you don’t have to work with your existing pub company or brewery. Yvonne says:
“I would recommend that you find one or two PubCos that you want to work with and focus on building a good relationship with them. When we talk to our multi-site pub operators about their business, we’re just as interested in their pub with another PubCo as their Greene King pub.
“The success of each pub will affect the other, and therefore we don’t want to see either pub fail regardless of who owns what. When Tracey took on The Woodman we worked very hard with her to ensure that it wouldn’t have a detrimental affect on The Red Lion.”
Yvonne’s meeting with Tracey is a chance to catch up and see how business has been going since the New Year, and discuss plans for the pub such as events and other initiatives to attract more customers to the pub.
The Woodman is very different to The Red Lion as it’s in a rural location with only a few houses within walking distance of the pub: whereas The Red Lion is in the heart of a village with a population of over 2,500 residents. BDMs like Yvonne are ideally placed to share their experience from working with pub operators with similar pubs and challenges, helping pub operators like Tracey develop their businesses. Yvonne says:
“I see my role as one of a consultant that provides guidance, mentoring and reassurance. We’re here to support our pub operators whether they’re taking on their first pub, growing and developing the business, or becoming a multi-site operator.”
Whatever stage your pub business is at, your BDM is the first point of call to discuss anything to do with the business and your plans for it.
If you’re interested in taking on another pub, find details of our Multi-Site Operator training course here.