After a successful first year, a 'Pub Ready' operator awaits keys for second pub
With the launch of the Pub Ready Managed Operator scheme in 2019, Phil Carvosso was one of the first handful to be involved when he accepted the keys to the Rose & Crown in Carshalton, Surrey.
The Pub Ready scheme provides an operator with a pub that is ready to trade and run as your own business but with less risk and a minimal initial outlay – all that is required is operational experience, and a whole lot of dedication and passion.
This all sounds a little too good to be true, doesn’t it? Phil had all the requirements in abundance having experienced managed pub operations before, so how did he find his new pub? “I had been working for a different operator group, in a vaguely similar scheme with a wet-led pub. I already knew Mark, the BDM, so when I was approached and explained about the new Greene King model, the offer really seemed too good to be true.”
Although the operator managed format already exists in the industry, the Greene King model offers a more flexible and autonomous approach – providing operators with the chance to operate their business to suit their unique pub, themselves, and their local clientele. Phil found this a great way to work:
“I have been given full autonomy to grow my business and the model really encourages entrepreneurial skill. It is essential that you hail from an operational background. But, quite surprising to me at first, I feel like my own boss, I feel like this is my business and the customers consider me the landlord. That doesn’t mean that I am simply left by myself to ‘get on with it’. Our BDM Mark is always there to support me, we have great marketing materials (and access to more based on our ideas and creativity) and I have a sizeable entertainment budget so I can put on events that appeal to my locals. I have had nothing but support for my ideas. In fact, Greene King have been nothing but supportive, open to new ideas, accommodating and I can’t tell you how refreshing that feels.”
Being a Pub Ready operator for Greene King requires management experience in the industry. A history at management level (General Manager/Deputy Manager) in is essential to ensure your business is a success and you can hit the ground running. While a management fee is provided to an operator, the package encourages business success by providing additional payments based on a percentage of weekly takings alongside a quarterly bonus payment based on business operational profit.
While the scheme requires an initial entry payment, the pub ready operator is not required to provide huge ingoing investment. This reduces the risk associated with a leased operation. Nevertheless, in order to become a successful operator, the business will need to perform well which will require hard work and commitment, as you would expect of any leaseholder licensee.
Phil knows this from experience: “I am not going to sugar coat it, I did have to work seven days, open and close for months. This is what you do when you are getting any business off the ground. It is not for the faint hearted, but anyone with pub experience will know this. But, in time it pays off. As a Pub Ready operator, we are responsible for paying our own staff. In the early days, it’s hard to juggle what staff you require to operate and how much you can feasibly do yourself as you develop a regular business. Finding staff that you can trust and then developing them is tough but investment in good people – such as getting them an alcohol license - gives you more of a chance to step back and take a little time off.”
The pub ready operator, with the relevant experience, can also look forward to pubs that have an established food trade, which is puts them in a more advantageous position to most of the pub ready pubco schemes, who would generally be wet led pubs. Having a food option has its benefits says Phil:
“I was delighted that the Rose & Crown came with a functional kitchen and the ability to offer food. It has so many benefits, especially as we were able to attract a better quality of clientele. We focused our efforts on Sundays – if you can get them right the rest of the week follows. We were dedicated to value for money, ensuring quality and freshness – and found it led to being able to offer food that was as much as a third cheaper than competitor pubs nearby and we started pulling trade. Adding food to your trade not only increases your operational weekly income but will improve profitability adding to your quarterly management bonus too.”
Sport is such a fundamental part of pub life, too – for the locals as much as for the operators. You need the ability to live and breathe local and national football, enjoy rugby, revel in the Grand Prix, and choose whether to take the blows of boxing. Greene King pubs are designed to be hubs for the locals to enjoy their favourite sport, but as Phil explains, that too is pub dependent:
“I had to make the choice not to broadcast the boxing and due to my clientele, it’s not in our best interest to broadcast sport pub-wide either. In fact, it’s a joy to be able to have the sport live in the bar but choose not to broadcast where families will be enjoying a meal. This is something I wasn’t used to; it’s great to have that flexibility and to be able to broadcast what I want, and when, and have the marketing resources to support that, too.”
You’ll never be alone in making these decisions, either. Pub Ready operators are treated the same way as any other licensee in the Greene King family and offered ongoing support - from day one. Industry leading training programmes, contractor relationships that ensure any operational issues are resolved quickly with limited business disruption, and access to ordering systems that offer convenience and flexible accessibility.
“Do I feel supported? Definitely. I feel like whatever the problem I have a phone number and someone on the end of it, at any time. Not least our BDM – he has been great, supportive and has been a credit to the development of my business.”
Operator success is the key to Greene King’s success, and the development and growth of the operator’s business is just as important to the pubco as it is them. “I guess I must be doing a good job, I am about to get the keys to my second pub which I am really excited about. Having spent time and money developing my staff at the Rose & Crown, I have a team I can trust, one of which has got their alcohol license and will become the manager here whilst I focus on the new pub. I am even taking some of the staff with me for now. But let’s face it - after learning to step back - I am going back to seven days a week and long days all over again. Honestly, I can’t wait!”
If you think you have what it takes to be the next Pub Ready Operator at Greene King, speak to the recruitment team today on 01284 843 200.