Collaboration for the Hospitality Sector

Collaboration for the Hospitality Sector

The first blog in our guest series has kindly been written by Dave Plunkett from Collaboration Junkie.  Dave specialises in helping brands get high quality referral leads on a consistent basis by building a strategic partner programme.  Today, Dave has focused his expertise on how collaboration can achieve this specifically within the hospitality sector.

Collaboration for the Hospitality Sector

It’s been tough times for many sectors over the last year or so, but one of the positives that I think we can take forward has been how much more collaboration between businesses we’ve seen – with new or improved services being offered that has enabled businesses to not only survive, but in many instances thrive, despite the climate.

That’s the great thing about collaboration and partnerships, you can create something far greater than the sum of its individual parts, meaning the long-term benefits are huge.

But one of the hardest hit sectors has clearly been hospitality, they’ve had to jump through more hoops then most, and yet have still had the harshest restrictions placed upon them.

And they’re not traditionally great collaborators.

So, whilst I’m doing my best to support my local (I’m sat in the beer garden while I write this actually), I thought there’s maybe more I could do, and so I thought I’d come up with a few practical tips for pubs, café’s, restaurants, and takeaways on how they can leverage collaborations and referral marketing.

So here goes

Refer a friend

So, this is one that everyone can take advantage of, but I’m always gob smacked by how few establishments do.

There’s nothing more powerful than a word-of-mouth referral, so why not encourage more of them into your business?

A simple way to do this without seeming overly salesy is to offer something to everyone involved.

How about giving out a raffle type ticket after your customers pay the bill. The prize can be whatever you wish – a free glass of wine with each main course ordered, or a free desert if 2 courses are ordered, whatever you choose and is right for your own business.

If the ticket’s redeemed by the friend of the customer who referred them then the customer in turn gets the same offer when they hand over their stub.

It means you’re not only attracting a new customer but encouraging repeat business from the original one as well – all at a cost you’ve been happy to cover.

It can be a really cost effective marketing strategy and one I’d encourage everyone to utilise in some form or another.

The drunken kebab

Who doesn’t love a cheeky takeaway after a couple of drinks?

So, if you’re a running a takeaway and there’s a pub local to you who doesn’t serve their own food (or even if they do but the kitchen closes early) why not see what you can do?

I’m not talking about just dumping some flyers on the bar though, that’s not really adding value to anyone.

Remember, the secret of any successful partnerships is value all round.

So, can you run a special offer for people who have come via the pub?

For those pubs that don’t offer food maybe even run a priority delivery service?

You could ask them to personally recommend, leave the special offer flyers on the bar or at table, or maybe even see if they could include your details on their receipts?

And of course, see what you can do in return.

Can you promote them in your premises or maybe include flyers when you bag up orders?

The customer gets some much-needed grub and feels special because of the offer. The pub looks good in their eyes because of this so builds customer loyalty, and you get extra business.

Winner!

Cabbie collaborations

Especially relevant if you have the opportunity for a good amount of transient trade, your local taxi firms could be a rich source of customer referrals for you.

Again, a simple offer (think if it as a marketing cost, but one that guarantees you a paying customer) can be the reason why it’s relevant for the driver to mention your establishment by name when they’re asked, or maybe even have your materials displayed somewhere in their vehicle.

You might need to sweeten the deal with firm themselves on this on this one, be that in cash or a tab, so make sure there’s a way of tracking their referrals, it could be as simple as a bespoke flyer, card or code to quote to claim their offer.

Yes, there may be a cost to it, but it’s business that you may otherwise have never had had, so as long as it’s profitable for you why wouldn’t you explore this avenue?

Go where your audience goes

I’ve given a couple of specific examples, but the same principles apply to any business or organisation that has contact with your target market and is an appropriate match.

Offer something of value to the audience, and something of value to the organisation making the referrals and you’re well away.

Café owners – why not approach your local primary schools or nurseries? Most of them have some kind fund that requires donations so can you offer a small % of orders over a certain size for anyone that comes through their recommendation? They may be able to include you in their newsletter on social media channels – which is great exposure for you, without any upfront fee.

Time waits for no man

Any service where the customer has to wait for a period of time could also be a great source of new business.

I know I’d rather sit somewhere nice with some refreshments then in a garage waiting room while my tyres get changed.

Who is local to you where you can capitalise on their captive audience?

In it together

So, my final suggestion is to look at where you can collaborate with similar local businesses to take advantage of one or more of the above suggestions more fully.

It takes a bigger leap of faith sure, but people have different tastes and preferences on any given day, and by combining your efforts where you may lose out on an individual customer on a given day, the overall impact will almost certainly be a more positive one.

So, there we have it, my starting suggestions for how look to leverage word of mouth referrals for your business. I hope you find them useful, and I hope the summer is a successful one for you!

Dave Plunkett

Founder | Chief Collaborator

07904 330628

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PS: If you’ve found this useful why not connect on LinkedIn.  Or if you know someone who this might be useful for, do them a favour and let them know.

How to Think Big and Create Sustainable Business Growth

How to Think Big and Create Sustainable Business Growth

Creating sustainable growth for your business is a goal shared by all business owners.  But sometimes we can lose sight as to how to achieve this.  ‘Thinking Big’ is an incredibly powerful strategy, but only if it’s done in the right manner; with clarity and with quality.

Clarity is Key

One of the secrets to business success is to ensure that your audience knows and understands what you do. By picking a market or a skillset and sticking to it, you create a much stronger brand and you can then grow your business under that brand in such a way that the goodwill you generate will extend to everything you offer.

By moving between markets or offering random services that aren’t linked together by a common skillset, you risk confusing your target market and the confused mind always says ‘no’.

Think Quality, Not Quantity

If you find you get the biggest buzz from the ‘new’, you need to hear the story of Rand Fishkin, founder and former CEO of Moz. Today, Moz is one of the most successful SEO companies in the world but that wasn’t always the case.

Fishkin describes his obsession with ‘the new’ as “one of Moz’s most consistent, most pernicious failures” under his leadership of the business. Instead of continually improving and refining his offering by focusing on what Moz was good at, the entrepreneurial founder was continually chasing the next big discovery. He wanted to repeat his original experience of finding a problem, solving it and becoming a huge success.

However, this chase led to many new product or features being launched, marketing and then promptly forgotten about. There was no support, no upgrades (both of which are essential in the tech industry), until everything came to a head with severe product failures and what Fishkin describes as “nightmarishly bad customer feedback”.

It was at this point that Moz’s growth rate plummeted from 100% year-on-year to just 20%.

A Lesson Learned

In the end it took years to turn Moz around, something which happened under new leadership. But the lesson was learned by Fishkin, who says he plans to carry it with him for the rest of his career.

In my experience, a successful business is something which needs strategic thinking.  Make time today to stop and consider why you are successful.  Then plan to deliver more of the same rather than diversifying or over-expanding and risking the whole business.  ‘Think big’ but with clarity and quality.

 

How to drive footfall to your business 

How to drive footfall to your business 

You’ve got your loan agreed and the money is in the bank.

You’ve set up your business, but now you need to drive the sales into the business.

Unfortunately, much as we would all love it to happen immediately, often it takes a bit of time for people to get to know that you now exist.

Having said that you don’t want to spend lots of money on marketing, that’s completely understandable.

So, here are some tips to help you to drive footfall into your business without breaking the bank.

Google my business:

Google is key to you getting found.  So make sure you’re listed on Google my Business.

What’s more it’s free to use.  And often Google will send you a voucher to use for Advertising.

To make it work even harder, get your customers to give you a review.  That way when people find you online, they can also see what a great service you give.

Social Media:

Running a social media account can be hard work.   Having said that social media is a great alternative to having a website and has no cost associated with it, only your time.

Local noticeboards are great places to start to get your name out.  And if you prove popular, are also a great way of getting people to spread the word about you.

Use the platform that you are familiar with and like using and post updates to on that.  People like to be nosy so think about:

  • Behind the scenes
  • Customer of the week
  • News

Flyers:

Key to getting customers is people knowing that you are there.

Using services such as Vista Print allows you to design and print a leaflet at a reasonable price.

Once printed, it’s worth walking around the local area delivering the leaflets through the doors of residents.

Also give them out at key traffic points, for example.

You can also use them as posters on Parish Noticeboards, in the local library.

Board outside the shop:

Create intrigue or stand out with an A board.

This is particularly important if you are up an alleyway and people don’t automatically pass your establishment.

But it also works to get people to notice you.

Get a blank blackboard one which you can attach posters to, or which you can change depending on what is going on.  You can also use this to highlight why people should come & visit.

Just one thing you need to be aware of.  You may need the local council’s permission to put this board out depending on where you are located.

Local Newspaper:

The local newspaper is always looking for stories.  Why not approach them with yours?  Why have you set up, what you’re wanting to offer the local community.

Use your business plan that was developed for your loan to help you.

Incentivising people to come in and come back:

When you’re starting out, it’s worth adding a small incentive to get people to try you out.  Think about giving value, rather than discounting.

So, offering a side dish with any main meal or similar.  Whatever you decide to use, don’t forget to do the maths to make sure it’s not costing you more than it needs to.

To get people coming back, it’s worth thinking about a simple loyalty card.

Do work out what you can give away without impacting the bottom line.  But a couple of examples are:

  • Buy 5 meals, get a free side
  • For every £10 spent, get a stamp. Once you have 10 stamps, get a free meal.

Whilst we recommend using incentives, they should only be used sparingly.

Running special offers all the time creates an expectation for customers that they don’t have to pay full price.  Something you want to avoid.

So there we go, just a few tips to help you on your way.

If you want any further help, do get in touch as we have several partners who can guide you in the right direction.

Exit Strategies and why the end should start at the beginning

Exit Strategies and why the end should start at the beginning

When it comes to success in business, there’s a chapter people rarely consider. The art of the exit strategy is the part of the business journey which stands entrepreneurs apart from the crowd.

Some would argue that you’ve only been successful if you’ve exited with a return on your investment, ready to move on to the next bigger and better opportunity.

This is the third and final blog in my three-part series about how to Aim Big, Think Big and Act Big. These are the three essential steps to guaranteed business growth that I spoke about in my first blog of the series.

So, how do we Act Big? I’d like to take you back to my little dog, Baxter, and his very big stick. I guess Baxter has the luxury of not needing to worry about where his big stick journey goes. To me, there’s a clear failure coming, when he realises that half a tree isn’t the best thing to decide to carry on a long walk. But, he’s living in the moment, and very happy to do so.

When it comes to business, we can’t afford to set ourselves up for failure. Which is why, oddly, one of the first questions I ask a business founder is “What happens at the end?” I’m not for a minute suggesting their business won’t continue, very successfully, for many years. But I am suggesting that they might not always be a part of it.

Unlocking the door

There are lots of choices when it comes to an exit strategy, the four most common are:

  • Management Buy Out (MBO) – when an executive team combines resources to acquire some or all of the business they manage;
  • Outside Sale – a straight sale to new owners;
  • Merger & Acquisition (M&A) – either merging with a similarly sized company or being bought by a larger one;
  • Initial Public Offering (IPO) – essentially floating on the stock market and raising capital from external investors, not as popular as it once was, following the bursting of the dot-com bubble;

There’s no ‘best’ option as the right strategy will be the one which fits your business and personal goals. It’s this framing and planning stage which should come at the start of the business journey to enable you to structure your business for ultimate success in the exit strategy you choose.

Determining the right balance between personal and business goals as well as honouring any investments needs careful planning. The key point of the strategy is to optimise the value of the business so planning from an early stage provides maximum flexibility and opportunity.

By acknowledging and actioning the need for an exit strategy, not only are we fulfilling the need to Act Big, we are giving ourselves the opportunity to grow yet more in the future as we have the chance to move on to greater challenges or more business opportunities.

 

How to scale your business – part one

How to scale your business – part one

Your business is established.  Your customers keep coming back time after time, and they are recommending you to their friends.  It’s time to move to the next level.

When we look at the next level for businesses, we talk about growth and we talk about scaling.

But what does that really mean and which should you be doing?

The difference between growing and scaling

Growth is about increasing your revenue in linear terms.  You add resources, such as capital, people or technology and your revenue increases as a result.

Scaling on the other hand is when your revenue increases without a substantial increase in resources. You can expand without being hampered.

For example, take a food truck which cooks and delivers take away meals.

Business is good with lots of customers. The standard of cooking is high and all meals are consistently well made and delivered warm and on time.

If you’re looking to grow an obvious thing to do is to replicate what you’re doing with your first truck. You buy one or more new trucks and hire a different person to run that truck, cook the food, organise deliveries etc.

Your revenue will increase, but so will the resources to maintain that growth.  Resources that will often drain profits, time and energy.

Scaling: taking a different approach

If you scale, however, you take a different approach.

Scaling is about increasing revenue without incurring significant increased costs to the running the business.

It’s about finding ways of doing things more efficiently in order to keep the costs down and be able to grow faster than previously possible.

Think about these problems within the growth business:

  1. How do you maintain consistently high-quality food when you have many more trucks in different places with different people cooking?
  2. How do you manage the different food truck owners to make sure the deliveries are done effectively, avoiding longer waiting times and deliveries of food that’s not warm enough?

You’re stretched having to train 5 different chefs, the delivery drivers are inconsistent, and you’re limited in the amount of food you can supply for both take-away and delivery because it’s all coming out of individual trucks.

We need to start thinking differently.  To look at how the business can work with less resources, to be able to expand your current reach, potentially even reach new audiences, or unlock new markets without adding to the costs.

So with our food truck example, rather than replicating the model, we look at how else the business could run.

  1. Multiple food trucks: But the food is prepped in a central kitchen and then delivered just before service to be finished off.  This allows you to maintain high-quality food.  It can be cooked more quickly at the truck because it’s already been prepped and so you can serve more customers per truck.
  2. Delivery is conducted centrally: Rather than delivery drivers going to each truck, they go from one central location, where the food is cooked fresh.  Control over quality, control over delivery times and no distractions for those who are serving in the trucks.

Rethink the model and you’ll be able to grow faster than previously possible.

How Streamlion can help

At Streamlion Consulting, we are experts in knowing and advising on the difference between growing and scaling your business.

Our scale-up workshops are designed to help entrepreneurs face exactly this type of challenge. We spend time looking at your business, acting as your trusted advisor to help you to make the decision that’s right for you and your business goals and aspirations. And we can then help find funding for this type of expansion.

We are experienced and trusted by many of our clients to step in and help with this process as and when further scaling up means more funding is needed. We can give you the peace of mind that you haven’t missed anything when planning the future of your business by acting as your trusted business advisor.

If you’re interested in finding out more, contact Helen on helen@streamlionconsulting.com or call 07790 493033.

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The importance of the credit check when starting a new business

The importance of the credit check when starting a new business

Starting a new business is daunting at the best of times, but when you need to consider a loan in order to get set up, it goes to another level.

Funding is such a vital part of getting set up for product businesses; buying stock, renting premises etc. but it can feel that lenders are holding back, making you doubt whether or not you want to continue on the journey.

At Streamlion, we’re really proud of our high success rate when it comes to getting start-ups off the ground but there is one area that prospective business owners can do to really maximise their chances of success.

Making sure you understand your credit history and your credit score. 

What does that mean?

Your credit history and credit scores are vital pieces of information that lenders use to understand your financial wellbeing.

They tell the lender a lot about you – how well you have repaid debt in the past, if you have missed any repayments on mobile phones, utility bills, rental/mortgages and also how much you owe other people.

Lenders will never want to add more debt to your burden, so they always make sure you can afford the loan repayments before approval is granted.

Your aim is a fair to good credit score.  So, before you start looking for any funding, it’s worth looking at your credit score to make sure you won’t fall at the first hurdle.

What do you need to do?

You can check your credit score using one of these sites.

All three of the above allow you to carry out a free check on your credit score.

An Experian credit score is out of 999. ClearScore credit checks are out of 700 and Equifax are out of 850.

All these will tell you what it is and how it compares to the national average.  A healthy credit score means you can apply for any funding you want with confidence.  This tends to be a score that is fair to good or above.

The website will also give you guidance on areas that need attention.

What happens if my credit score is Very Poor or Poor?

The good news is that you can do something about it.

When you get your credit score, you will be able to download your credit report as a PDF.  This will give all the detail you need to help you understand what has influenced your score.

The sorts of things that can negatively affect credit scores are:

  • Late or non-payment of bills
  • Being close to credit limits on overdrafts or credit cards
  • Too many ‘hard’ credit checks – these are checks carried out by lenders & creditors in the past
  • County Court Judgements (CCJs)

Whichever company you use to check your credit score will be able to help you to improve the score.  Just get in touch with them directly.

And ongoing?  What to do……

It’s good discipline to check your credit score every month. Many of the websites will offer the chance for an automated update to be sent to you. This means you will know of any issues at an early stage and can take action to remedy them.

Then as soon as you’re ready, you can apply for the funding you want with confidence and achieve your new business dream.

Streamlion specialises in helping entrepreneurs starting on their business journey.  We help you create a business plan and finance details which ensures that your loan application will be successful.  We can give you the peace of mind that you haven’t missed anything with your loan application by acting as your trusted business advisor.

If you’re interested in finding out more, contact Helen via helen@streamlionconsulting.com or call 07790 493033.