Working with pub managers - how to grow your business and team

Running a pub is a great way to build a multi-site business.  Once you have gained experience operating on one site, you can easily take that concept and that experience to expand into other pubs.  Investing in more than one site can prove extremely profitable and offer a lot of scope for future development.  Ambitious entrepreneurs can quite easily develop a mini-chain of pubs.

As a successful pub operator, you are well placed to approach a pub company about taking on other sites simply because you have already proved your worth.  You have shown that you have the business know-how and the background to make investing in other pubs a success.  It can prove very cost effective too; since having more than one pub site means you can centralise your resources with regard to functions like marketing and benefit from the economies of scale, thus getting more for your money. 

And it is not just existing pub operators who can expand a portfolio in this way.  Often businesses with associated interests such as hospitality, leisure, catering or hotels can find taking on a pub lease to be a perfect way of expanding a business portfolio. Operating a pub can perfectly complement a restaurant or hotel within a given area, allowing cross-pollination to take place and offering customers a wider product selection and different experiences.

Expanding onto other sites allows you to replicate existing concepts, or to try out new ones.  It may be that pub tenants operating in a rural area might want to experiment with an urban site, or vice versa.  Or develop a different business offer such as a fine dining experience in one pub and a gastro food offer in another.  This can provide a new and stimulating challenge that benefits all aspects of your business portfolio.

Finding And Training Your Pub Manager And Team

Business expansion is more than just about the sites – it is about the people too.

It is not just a matter of growing a business by expansion onto new sites; you are also providing opportunities for your existing team to develop their skills.  Having a successful team makes a tremendous difference when it comes to considering expansion.  You need to have people you can rely on, since you will not be able to give all your attention to just one site.  There will be times when you will be elsewhere, dealing with the running of a different pub.

Whether family or employees, successful teams are one of the most valuable business assets you can have.  These are the people you can rely on, no matter what happens. You know their weaknesses and their strengths, and how they will react in any given circumstances.  Providing the professional training they need to develop their personal potential makes business sense, since they will be able to make an even greater impact on your business.  It is quite simply, an investment in your future growth.

It is these people who can form the basis of successful management teams within multi-site businesses.  By providing them with opportunities to grow within your business, means they are more likely to stay within the company.

As Debi Sickelmore and Alan Monks of the White Horse in Sudbury point out:

“There are loads of really talented young managers in the hospitality industry but moving on to running their own pub is a big step and most people can’t afford it. Most managers hit this ceiling and there isn’t anywhere else to progress to.  We feel that contributing to the fact that hospitality isn’t always treated as a professional career. If people could see that there was a real career progression, they would be more motivated.”

As a company that aims to look after its employees, the duo turned to their existing staff when they decided to expand out of their central London base where they already had two pubs: the Grafton Arms and the Duke of York.

“Greene King suggested that we consider The White Horse in Sudbury.  They were prepared to refurbish the business and would work with us to ensure that this town centre pub offered something unique in the high street.”

She continued, “Ashley had been working with us for six years and Gary for two so we knew them well. They decided to get engaged and we felt that we wanted to help them. The Grafton Arms didn’t really serve food on a Saturday and Ashley suggested that there might be a way to increase trade – so we said go ahead! As a bonus, we agreed that any extra profits they made could be put towards their wedding fund!”

“It’s amazing what motivated people can do, and we realised that the next step for them both would be to start their new life together with a pub to run for themselves.  The White Horse would be great for them and we’re pleased to say they are proving us right!”

Ashley and Gary echo Debi’s comments.  “This has been a brilliant opportunity for us and things are really going well,” said Ashley, “it’s quite a different business from running a pub in the centre of London and we are still learning.”

If you think that at some point in the future you might want to expand your business and run multiple sites, start investing in your staff now. Having a pool of successful, skilled staff means that you have the scope to expand onto yet more sites whenever the opportunity arises, because you know that you have the staff ready and capable of stepping in and running those businesses on your behalf. 

Identifying staff that can grow with your business makes sense.  Creating a successful multi site business is possible, but you need to invest not just in premises, but also in the people involved.  Taking action now can create an extremely valuable asset in the future.

Incidentally, if you want to take on another site it doesn’t have to be with your current pub company / landlord. Many pub operators are working with different breweries and pub companies to grow their businesses. While it can be advantageous to run multi-sites with the same company, especially when you have excellent support from your Business Development Manager, it’s not essential.

If you would like to explore opportunities to expand your pub business, speak to your BDM or contact our team. If you’re not currently a Greene King pub tenant or lessee you can start the process of finding another site by completing our online application form here.