After three long frustrating years of Brexit, we now have the Coronavirus. At the time of going to press Prime Minister Boris Johnson has just announced that people should avoid going to pubs, clubs and other venues to prevent further spread.
Because of constant ‘latest developments’, I have changed this editorial several times! I am fortunate to have worked in the hospitality and on-trade industry for 36 years. That was in frontline hotel management and pub management, after which I went into publishing. Now I have been involved in publishing to the hospitality and licensed on trade for the past 24 years. I know the industry like the back of my hand and I absolutely adore it. I count myself very fortunate to have been involved in such a vibrant, creative, inspirational and wonderfully social industry that gives so much back to the public, providing an opportunity to socialise and celebrate any occasion any time!
The industry now faces a crisis. The mainstream news has been pushing for “lockdown”, with journalists aggressively confronting health experts, pushing for them to criticise the Government and lobby for lockdown.
Our whole “raison d’etre” has always been to support the industry, come what may. Sensationalism, we leave to mainstream media and what a job they are making of it!
If your business is anything like ours then you will know the severe consequences of closing. In simple terms, businesses in the hospitality/on-trade sector risk, if having to close even for a few weeks, never reopening.
Livelihoods lost, years of toil, sweat and tears gone in a matter of weeks. Many people will live on the business premises and will have ploughed everything they have into the business. Your home and income may be gone and you may be left in severe debt. Adding fuel to the fire there is a strong possibility insurance companies won’t pay out for any consequential losses as a result of closing down.
That’s if we continue to go down the route of panic. I’m not making light of the current situation – simply taking the opposite view of mainstream media and trying to introduce perspective!
Ever heard of a concept called Accurate Thinking?
It’s well worth spending a bit of time doing some research. The two principles of Accurate Thinking which stick out in my mind have always been:
1. Separate facts from fiction or hearsay evidence
2. Separate facts into classes : important and unimportant
A wonderfully simple concept to follow, and, to go even further, another quote I use quite often:
“Be careful of others opinions. They could be dangerous and destructive. Make sure your opinions are not someone else’s prejudices. The accurate thinker learns to use his or her judgment and to be cautious no matter who may endeavour to influence him or her.”
At the time of writing this, one of the country’s most well-known TV presenters has got into huge Twitter spats and online criticism for his constant attempts to bully those he is interviewing into following his own personal view that Britain should go into lockdown.
He is not on his own. I have seen many mainstream media journalists and presenters using this crisis to virtue-signal or further agendas.
I have, in my lifetime, seen many issues – from the Cuban missile crisis, foot-in-mouth and mad cow disease, flooding, business rates (when I had a wine bar/bistro here in Bournemouth, they went up from 12% to 15% to 18% and back down to 12% all in one day), and if I learned anything it is that the market goes down and we roll with the blows and then the market gets better again.
I wouldn’t be as presumptuous as to give anyone advice on what they should do – however, we all find ourselves at a key moment in our business career.
A key moment which calls for, as stated above, Accurate Thinking. That means being crystal clear the risk the virus poses to you and your family, your staff, customers and the wider public, but at the same time balancing your livelihood and future.
Right up there is the risk the Covid-19 poses to your business. Make no mistake – your business is under threat, and if this key moment is not handled correctly then it might be we do not have a business to go back to. We are included in this as well!
The country is gripped with fear, and that fear is going to have, (if it hasn’t already), a devastating impact on the economy and people’s behaviour.
As businesspeople fear is the biggest problem. When people find themselves gripped with fear they retreat, they hold back – sometimes they make that decision themselves, other times unfortunately it is forced on them.
What do we do? We market ourselves. We get out and we roll in the mud. We let everybody know that life goes on – our businesses go on and we carry on providing the same service that we did before.
Are you familiar with the story of Cadburys? During World War II when chocolate was rationed, Cadbury put as much into marketing during the period of the war as they did before the war started, even though nobody could buy chocolate. When the war finished and rationing was phased out Cadburys was the first name on everyone’s lips and they wanted chocolate, a great marketing story.
Any marketeer worth their salt will say that during downturns and crises businesses should focus on marketing more than ever, and “ramp it up”.
So, now is the time to take a step back, calm down, examine your business and THINK about what you can do to reassure customers old and new.
Tell them what you’re doing to make your business premises safe. Demonstrate to them that you are acting in their best interests, implementing and highlighting cleaning and hygiene procedures. It’s also time to think about any improvements you can make to the business generally.
This represents a period of reflection where you can re-examine your business. Does your website need updating? Are you communicating with your customers as much as you can? Are you taking advantage of newsletters and social media to let them know you’re still about still trading and have some great new offers to draw them in? Could it be a time to give the place a bit of a facelift? Are you communicating with staff getting them behind you working as a team, giving them as much reassurance as you can?
We at CLH News have consulted some of the industry’s leading professionals. This month we are bringing you their invaluable insight, experience and advice on marketing, dealing with suppliers and landlords, to help you paddle your canoe through the storm.
We would also urge you to monitor our website each day. We update several times a day and we will be putting up stories as they come in. Not just about the coronavirus, but also advice guidance on best practice on how to get through this, and if at all possible emerge in a strong position.
I would also make an appeal. We want to hear from you and share your views during this period, so please email with anything you have to say. Any comment, opinion, or any advice you feel is worth sharing, to firstname.lastname@example.org