Star Pubs & Bars new lessees to benefit from industry leading intensive start-up support programme

Following a year’s research and four months of successful trials, Star Pubs & Bars new lessees are set to benefit from an intensive pre and post start-up business support programme.  Called Countdown to Launch, it is designed to ensure lessees are fully prepared from day one and to establish them on a firm business footing from the outset and in so doing give their pubs the best opportunity of longterm success.

Star Pubs & Bars believes the first three months is critical for any business andCountdown to Launch brings unprecedented levels of support for new recruits in the leased sector via three key elements:

  • A bespoke Star Pubs & Bars business plan format, which will be central to management reviews and help the company ensure lessees are on track in all areas and to identify at an early stage where extra help may be needed.
  • A new pre-entry five day training course, Innside Knowledge, which replaces traditional classroom style training with an interactive workshop approach enabling lessees’ to fine- tune their individual business plans and focus on the management of their businesses.The finance section of the course has been expanded so that the cash flow statement is referred to throughout the course to show the effects on the bottom line of every decision, from an extra couple of shifts a week to starting food a bit later than intended.  Each lessee leaves the course with a structured action plan with support tailored to areas where help is needed.
  • An intensive 12 week business support programme spanning the four weeks between attending the Innside Knowledge course and starting at the pub and the lessee’s first 12 weeks in the pub for lessees identified as needing additional mentoring. Prior to taking on the pub, a dedicated support executive takes lessees through all the things they need to do before opening such as setting up a business banking account and elearning for lessees and staff, organising public liability insuranceand afood offer and looking at TUPE obligations.  They’ll call the lessees weekly and follow up with action lists  to check they’re on track.

In the first 12 weeks, the lessees are on an intensive support programme which consists of weekly coaching telephone calls to check people are on track, and also help if needed, and completing the gaps identified in their plans, extra visits from BDMs including one in which they accompany the lessee on a ‘customer walk’ looking at the business from a customer’s point of view, a mystery visit and a retail standards assessment and can include a visit from an Innside Knowledge coach.

Lessees on the pilot were shown to have all registered for VAT and PAYE and been 100% compliant with their accounting paperwork compared to 80% compliance among non participating pubs.  They also cleaned their lines more frequently than other pubs and completed 20% more online training modules than non participating pubs.

Says Star Pubs & Bars trading director, Chris Jowsey:  “We have focused on attracting the right people, and improving their deals and financial support.  More recently, we’ve been analyzing the elements that make pub launches a success.  As a result, we’re making individual business plans more central to our training and ongoing support.  We are also boosting the level of assistance provided in the all-important first weeks for new lessees needing additional assistance, which we believe is unprecedented in the leased pub industry.

 “Support will be tailored. If the lessee has been identified as great at marketing but poor on finance, the support will focus on the latter area.  The four weeks before starting at a pub are crucial.  We’re trying to help ensure lessees are completely on top of their game because once the pub opens it is a whirlwind for the first 8 – 12 weeks.”

Case studies

Patricia Ribton who took on The Bricklayer’s Arms in Southampton is nearing the end of her Countdown to Launch support and has got off to a strong start.  An experienced operator, in her time she has leased a pub, managed a pub and had a freehold pub, so she wasn’t expecting to benefit from training or support.  “I was surprised by how much the pub trade had changed in the 13 years I’ve been out of the business. Back then the brewery used to hand you the keys and leave you to it.  It’s much better nowadays.  The training and support open your eyes to what you’re going into.

“Anyone can put figures on paper for a business plan.  The training however, went through these in real detail making you see if they are achievable and realistic.  It made you realise what you had to do.  It was absolutely brilliant – a real help – all six of us on the course said it opened our eyes. The Countdown to Launch support prior to taking on the pub is a definite must.  The calls prompting you to make sure you’ve done what you’re supposed to, like organising insurance or music licenses, were really supportive.  If I hadn’t had them things would have been missed.  It was also really good if you had any problems as you could phone up and get help, which I did a couple of times.”

Angelo Allenby, lessee of The Golden Fleece in Louth, has just completed the Countdown to Launch programme.  Prior to taking on his pub he had been a chef at another Star Pubs & Bars outlet in Skipton.  He said of the Countdown to Launch programme:  “I learnt quite a bit on the Innside Knowledge course.  It was definitely worth doing as it expands your knowledge of what you know over and above what you think you know.  It was also helpful to have an action plan to follow in the weeks leading up to taking on the pub.  Claire, my support executive, called me every week to see what I had done the week before and help me focus on the next five actions I needed to take.   It was really helpful.”