ERDINGER and Klopp

At the beginning of March, ERDINGER Weissbräu announced that its new ambassador was Jürgen Klopp. We prepared to launch a campaign that featured TV advertising, a fan site and a limited edition red can just in case he clinched a first Premier League title as Manager – his Liverpool side was 22 points clear at the time after all.

Then everything went on hold as we focused on things far more important than beer or football.

It felt as if the moment had been lost and that the campaign, like the football season, might be mothballed forever. Both did kick off again, though, in June and ERDINGER showed just how much can be achieved with great planning and teamwork. Much the same as Jürgen’s approach to management, really.

He sealed his place as a legend and, despite his fan base growing all the time, he’s keeping his feet firmly on the ground. And ERDINGER continues to build its own loyal following, with Jürgen front and centre.

The TV ad launched, the red can be followed by a limited-edition glass featuring his image and an interactive fan page continues to get people talking about ERDINGER and its ambassador. It hasn’t quite happened as it was originally planned, but a four-month hiatus didn’t dent the enthusiasm and professionalism of the team behind the campaign. I’m proud to have played just a small role in that and am already looking forward to the next chapters in the story.

If you’re intrigued, visit the FANtastic page on the ERDINGER website, wait for the last line of the TV ad to see just why he is so popular and catch a glimpse of all the fantastic work that ERDINGER has pulled together. Bravo Jürgen and bravo ERDINGER.

They’ll be back

At the beginning of March, I was thrilled to be invited to The Publican Awards, organised by trade magazine The Morning Advertiser, celebrating the very best of Britain’s pubs and clubs. Held in the magnificent Evolution in Battersea Park, the awards combined great food and drink, theatrical presentation, fantastic entertainment from Rob Beckett and wonderful company alongside friends and colleagues in the hospitality industry.

But what made it so special was the operators who run the finest venues in the country – not just the award winners, but the finalists as well. It’s a sector that’s often taken for granted, part of the fabric of our society and there whenever we want to nip out to meet friends for a quick drink and a catch up, a pub lunch for family celebrations or a big night out with our pals. And yet right now, when everything is closed except for takeaway or delivery, people are suddenly realising just what they are missing. A warm welcome, great atmosphere, top class food and drink, an escape into the world of clubbing, maybe, but most of all, somewhere that you feel comfortable and gives you the chance to relax away from your own home.

As a judge of the Publican Awards for the last three years, I have seen first-hand just how much love, care and attention is invested in these businesses. This year, I was on the judging panel for the Late Night Operator category and we reviewed the finalists in depth, with focus on the operational, finance and marketing aspects of their businesses. There was evidence of solid trading and getting the essentials right, yes, but every one demonstrated great innovation and progress in improving staff development and customer experience. Even within this one category, the finalists all had something different to offer and had created a commendable out of home experience.

And it is people that are core to all their achievements. Hospitality employees are a creative and resilient bunch, who always work their socks off to put their customers first. If you read some of the stories of what has been happening during lockdown, you will see that there is an inspirational group of leaders in the sector and their vision and enthusiasm really motivates and galvanises their teams and others in the industry. From lobbying government for support, feeding the homeless, supplying food for NHS staff and care workers, being a hub for community care and adapting their trading model to provide takeaway and delivery options, our pubs and clubs are still there for us.

That spirit is why I have absolute confidence that hospitality will bounce back. Pubs, clubs, restaurants, hotels, leisure facilities – they are all preparing for life after lockdown and, whatever challenges they face, they will be there to welcome us back. It may not be exactly as it was before, but they will evolve to adapt to the circumstances and will be just as good as we remember them. In fact, they will be even better.

A round-up of the 2020 event can be found here.

Never underestimate the benefit of an external audit for licensee recruitment

I recently completed an audit on their licensee recruitment process for a client.

They were concerned that the pipeline of applicants was blocked as they weren’t getting the quantity – or quality – of applicants that they expected, especially for some particularly attractive pub business opportunities.

For a few years, the licensee recruitment process I managed had been subject to a similar audit as part of an initiative to improve standards across regional brewers. It was great to go back to basics, learn best practice from each other and recognise some of the small things that can make a pub group stand out, particularly important when competition to recruit the best licensees is crucial to long-term sustainability.

Fast forward to carrying out an anonymous enquiry of my own and it reminded me just how important it is to get an impartial assessment of different business areas from an external adviser. As a mystery caller looking for details of an appealing licensee vacancy, I found many gaps in the process that explained that the pipeline of applicants wasn’t, in fact, blocked but was leaking. The shortcomings and poor management were significant contributory factors to the delays in placing licensees in appropriate pubs.

I provided a comprehensive report for my client with some clear recommendations for improvement – from how vacancies are advertised and presented to how calls are handled and followed up – with proposals ranging from urgent action to advisory modifications.

You would have been surprised at some of the basic mistakes that I identified, so maybe this is a good time to check that similar oversights haven’t crept into your processes without you realising.

Happy to share the benefit of my experience if you feel that an external perspective would be as helpful as it was for this client.