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9 Ways To Fall In Love With Your Hospitality Business Again – Part 2, The Right People

Posted on Feb 16, 2016 in Entrepreneurship, Innventive
9 Ways To Fall In Love With Your Hospitality Business Again – Part 2, The Right People


Part 2


In Part 1, we looked at 3 great ways to step back from your business, in order to have a fresh and proactive view on the ways you work and lead your hospitality business. On or around Valentine’s Day, it’s also all too easy to think that your neighbours and competitors have the perfect team, perfect customers and perfect business, apparently in sharp contrast to yourself and your business.

So, what can you do to re-kindle the love for your business and the way that you feel about your staff team, customers and suppliers?

I’ve found in my hospitality businesses that my people, my customers and my suppliers are everything, whether I’ve liked it at the time or not! They ARE the business.

Here’s my second 3 (of 9) ways to fall in love with your hospitality business again, a short overview of how to get the RIGHT people, those who work for you, those who you serve and those who supply you:

  1. Find the BEST staff and KEEP them:


To the outside world, your staff team ARE your business. They represent it and are the essential conduit between you and your customers.

It seems the whole world knows that this sector is bad at finding and keeping good staff, that all kitchen and waiting staff are under-paid, under-trained and under-appreciated. It’s true! So what are you doing about it? The best operators in this industry are those who can reverse the paradigm that everyone seems to have i.e. to prove the cynics wrong and to reward well, train well and recognise and appreciate the staff teams that work for them.

Easier said than done? Easy for the chain restaurants, bars, pubs and hotels, but not you? Think again. Although it’s true that the managed chains and multiple operators have all the right systems in place, but as an independent operator you can be even better. You’re not restricted by the confines that the larger operators have to work within, you’re your own entrepreneurial insightful and agile business creator, one who can mould and shape a world beating team of enthusiastic, people-loving, food and drink enthusiasts.

1The fact is that some of the best talent out there really wants to work for smaller businesses, those that care about the customer and the product and the service and genuine hospitality that they can offer. Really good talent also wants and searches for mentors, those that can show them the way and inspire them; more often than not characteristics of leadership that are lacking in the larger anonymous chains.

Once attracted to your independent business, great talent needs to be inducted properly, trained, appraised, recognised and appreciated. This is where independent businesses usually fall flat on the faces. I’ve found that so many independent business owners are great at finding the right people and then it soon goes HORRIBLY wrong. As independent operators themselves have seldom experienced the organised and professional HR systems, training methods and appraisal procedures that are in the DNA of the successful chains, they lose talented and enthusiastic staff very quickly or, worse still, try to ignore a bad employer : employee relationship when it’s past the point of return.

The best way of keeping the best staff is to keep on being the best employer. Fact. At the end of the day it’s down to you and you only to be constructive, insightful, inspirational and appreciative. Good staff will look up to you and rely on you. They are on a journey, so it’s your responsibility to shepherd them and guide them as best you can and for as long as you can, so long as they are turning your customers into raving fans.

The best staff can make your life easier, whilst keeping the customers and your bank manager happier at the same time also. You may want to stick around to unlock some of the success secrets and ‘people strategies’ that the best operators in the business use for finding and keeping the best teams possible. It’s not rocket science, but it sure can allow you to fall in love with your hospitality business again and make your life a lot better!

  1. Attract and keep on attracting the RIGHT customers – the ‘3 Ms’

Who is your ideal customer? What sort of customer is attracted to your business, spends the most money, returns frequently, raves about your business and tells the world about you and the hospitality that you offer? Well, I’ve got news for you hard working hospitality pros…I bet you don’t even know!

Most operators seem to spend time working out which media to use, to either post their news on or advertise their produce on, rather than starting at the beginning, which is to work out WHO they actually want to attract in the first place. So, what inevitably happens is the wrong people fill (or partially fill) their venue. OUCH!! – wasted time, wasted effort and wasted profit.

Trying to please the wrong customers can be soul destroying for you and your team. You think you’re doing great but the paying public just don’t “get it”? Instead, how would you like to be serving your ideal customers each and every day? Customers who love what you do, who you are and why you’re doing it?

The days are probably over when you could appeal to everyone, and yet that’s exactly what most operators STILL try to do. Although many great concepts appeal to a wide audience, very few can make a business of it. Instead, great operators have realised that they have can really only start to capitalise when they focus their offer to a target audience and forget trying to please everyone.

Your concept is everything. If you struggle with the very word, ‘Concept’, because you think that in itself is very ‘Chainy’, then use the words ‘business idea’ instead. Go back to your business idea, who you want to attract. Look at creating a customer avatar (profile) of your ideal customer, their age, their sex, their likes and dislikes, their propensity to spend, their favourite pastimes, food and drink, styling and where else they’d like to go.

Only when you have a customer avatar and you know WHICH market you’re aiming for, can you then work out what message you want to send out and which media do you want to use, that is the most appropriate to transport that message to your desired target audience.

That folks (Market, Message, Media) is the ‘3 Ms’. Get it wrong and it won’t be just you who falls out of love with your business, your customers will also. In fact, you may never find anyone who loves your business in the first place!

  1. The right SUPPLIERS – who’s looking after YOU?!


Believe it or not, your suppliers can really increase your happiness but at the same time, poor supplier relationships can often cause good operators to go crazy and divert their attention away from vital Income Producing Activities (IPAs).

Think about your suppliers as significant stakeholders in your business. As an independent hospitality business, you have an increasingly hard battle to fight and these suppliers need to be on your side. When ‘push comes to shove’, how many of your suppliers will really have the relationship with you to take the wider view and arrive at a deal which puts you back in the fight? After all, with customer expectations higher than ever and customer spend restricted due to economic pressures, your suppliers really do matter if you want to provide value for money to your target audience in the face of increasing competition from pub, restaurant and hotel chains and supermarkets.

P&N1Most independent operators are notoriously bad at calculating food and drink cost targets, costing menus, comparing suppliers, controlling waste, portion size, measuring deliveries, receiving goods personally, identifying and eliminating theft, recording all sales, making accounting and stocktaking errors and updating menus. The list goes on, but on the whole multiple operators and restaurant and pub chains will always have these skills and processes under control, before supplier negotiation is even brought into the arena.

Good supplier relationships are a two-way thing, ‘Win: Win’ if you like. Skin them alive and they won’t be there for you. On the other hand, look after them, negotiate fairly, communicate and pay regularly and on time and they really will be flexible and make your life easier.

Think about the following:

  • Getting the best deal has never been so important, but so are internal processes and controls
  • Credit terms are just as important as price and need to be discussed and agreed amicably if both parties are to stay ‘in love’
  • Negotiate professionally, with accurate targeting, monitoring and analysis
  • Ask for added value and category support, not just discounts and price guarantees
  • Have you considered using a third party to look at your entire procurement process – it may save you a huge amount of time, stress and money and some suppliers could appreciate the professional intervention also

Suppliers all have different strengths and weaknesses. Choosing and getting to know your suppliers is crucial for long term success. Although the purchaser rarely holds all the cards nowadays, a new supplier or a better relationship with an existing supplier can transform the satisfaction that you and your team have at work. It’s not just about price, it’s about how reliable, quality focussed and customer focussed your suppliers are so that they can let you get on with what you do best – finding, serving and growing your own ‘tribe’ of customers.


Finding and keeping the right staff team, customers and suppliers are core skills of effective hospitality entrepreneurs. We explore these in depth in and we welcome your experiences and insights as part of our growing members’ community.

By Peter Austen, Business Planning and Operational Coach ( and Founder of Hospitality Entrepreneur (

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