Louise Gallant, Head of Publican and Management Partnerships Recruitment at Punch Pubs shares her experience and advice on how best to run a pub.. Louise reveals how invested she and Punch Pubs are in making running a pub easier and more enjoyable for their current and budding publicans.
Tell us about your first jobs in hospitality?
I worked in my Mum’s pub, The Oatsheaf in Fleet – first as a chamber maid in the hotel rooms, then in the kitchen preparing food and then I worked behind the bar when I turned 18. I also worked summer seasons at my Dad’s pub, The Sussex Cricketer in Brighton and also in a Tex Mex restaurant as a waitress which was great fun! (Until I fell on my bottom carrying 2 sizzling plates of fajitas! – a little embarrassing as it was bang in the middle of the restaurant! – Luckily no one was hurt – except a few bruises on me!!)
Why did you choose to work for your current company?
I have been in the recruitment industry for over 20 years including the hospitality and retail sectors – match that with my upbringing in pubs and running bars on cruise liners and it seemed like the perfect fit! Punch Pubs Co has a great culture – a collaborative bunch of people who support one another and foster a collective winning mindset - #wewintogether is one of our values.
How many pubs do the recruitment team look after at Punch?
I have overall responsibility for a team of 10 recruitment advisors and specialists. Together we are responsible for recruiting Publicans and Management Partners across all 1,300 Punch pubs. Our priority is always to find the best candidate and the best pub for them.
What do you think is the biggest challenge of running a pub?
Currently the rising costs of supplies and energy is affecting the magic of running pubs and it’s a real challenge for our publicans to manage their costs and plan effectively. We are giving our publicans all the support we can to help them balance the books and run successful pubs.
What advice would you give to someone looking to invest and run a pub?
If you want to run a great pub, you need to love it and have a winning mindset. Get to know your local area and people and involve yourself in the community. Be innovative; be curious, and be consistent. Standards are absolutely key; so ensure you get the basics right and train in standards until it becomes ingrained into your teams. Treat your teams well, train them and communicate to them to foster a positive customer mindset. Don’t undersell your product; instil value in your offering, have confidence in it and keep your standards high. And lastly, have fun – a customer will return to a pub with a great personality and the Publican is at the heart of this.
What do you offer to your Leased & Tenanted Publicans to help and support them to succeed in running their pub?
We will work with each L&T Publican to ensure the agreement is completely right for them. Once they are up and running, they have a dedicated and experienced Operations Manager who will visit them regularly, coach and support them with what they need to succeed. We have an industry-leading training academy at our head office and offer a week-long training programme, Progress with Punch, to every Publican joining our business. Progress with Punch covers all aspects of running a pub business. No matter your experience, all Publicans welcome and value taking part, and we get fantastic feedback. Our Publicans have access to BII membership and all the online training, compliance, qualifications, and materials they need for themselves and their teams. We have various training programmes available through our online training portal and app. Modules include driving sales, food safety and managing energy efficiency and can be opened up to the Publicans teams if they so wish.
As well as operating the Leased & Tenanted model, we also operate Management Partnerships. This model may be more suited to people looking to progress in their career in hospitality and experience running their own pub business but wishing to take a lower investment risk. In Management Partnerships, we will cover all the bills and rent, and the Management Company, led by the Management Partner, looks after the day-to-day operation and their team and labour cost. We offer a concept food offering from a premium to a more value-led menu and will supply the whole package to make it super easy to run their pub. We also invite our Management Partners to immersion days for every menu change and will support them as we do for our L&T Publicans with an experienced Operations Manager to coach and support them with everything they need to succeed.
What type of person do you try and attract to run a pub?
We try and attract people from all walks of life. Anyone who has experience of running a business or has the passion to run a business and has management experience can run one of our pubs. People who have a natural flair for making customers happy will be welcomed into Punch! We have a variety of pubs to suit all personalities and desires – from the premium food destination pub to the inner city wet led pub and everything in between. Our L&T agreements are set up so that our publicans have the freedom to build their food offering for any budding entrepreneurs.
Why should someone choose to work with your business?
At Punch, we put people at the heart of everything we do. We are passionate about pubs and understand the challenges and opportunities that come with running pubs. #welovepubs is one of our values, and that’s pretty apparent in all our teams; we have a great culture which runs through the veins of our business; through to our Publicans.
Our priority is to ensure our pubs thrive at the hearts of the communities they serve, and we are here to support our Publicans and Management Partners with everything they need to succeed. From maintenance support to training, coaching and providing assets and materials that inspire them to create and maximise the opportunities in their business.
What are you most excited about for the year ahead?
Punch has an optimistic outlook, and whilst things haven’t been easy for the industry in recent years and months, the great British pub and the epic Publicans that run them have proven how resilient this national institution continues to be. We are working hard to make running pubs a little easier for our Publicans. It’s been heart-warming to see all sides of the business come together, and I’m excited about collaborating with our pubs and various teams to continue to enhance our fabulous pubs and showcase what a thrilling and rewarding industry this is to work in.
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