At the Bowden Group we specialise in providing Pub Consultancy for owners and operators of hospitality businesses.

The Managing Consultant is, and always has been, David Hunter.

David has a history of Senior Management in all of the sectors referred to, and more specifically, Restaurants, Hotels and Pubs.

There have also been along the way a number of ‘’Catering Businesses’’ that do not immediately seem to fit into one of the above sectors but that depends how you view them.

Outside Catering  /  Function Catering  /  Contract Catering are just Restaurants in another format.
As long as businesses are run ‘’for profit’’, using The Bowden Group is the choice to make.

The Bowden Group has never operated in the fields of INSTITUTIONAL CATERING (e.g. Schools/Prisons)   and most of those are ‘’cosy-driven’’ not ‘’run for profit’’.

Please call 01628 487613 or email us for an informal and FREE evaluation to see how we can help improve your profits

SO…  WHAT IS THE MAIN DIFFERENCE WHEN WE ARE TALKING ABOUT PUBS?

The main difference is Tenure, and there are:

  • Freehold Pubs – where the business operator owns the building
  • Leasehold Pubs – where the business operator leases the building, usually from a pub company or Brewery
  • Tenanted Pubs  – where the business operator leases the building, usually from a pub company or Brewery
  • Private Lease – where the business operator leases the building, but from a private owner

The second main difference is Tie, and there are:

  • Tied Pubs – where the operator is legally bound to buy their supplies of bar products from a specified supplier.  More often than not this involved paying a Premium for those supplies and making a lower Gross Profit Margin on those sales.
  • ‘’Free of Tie’’ Pubs where the operator can buy competitively from wherever they want, so suppliers reduce their prices to them to be competitive.

A ‘’Freehold’’ and ‘’Free of Tie’’ pub would almost always be the mote profitable to own…


SO  …  WHAT KIND OF WORK DO WE DO?

We ultimately specialise in Profitability and maximising that aspect of the business.

Focussing heavily on Gross Profit Margins and Labour costs, we also look at all other elements that affect the overall Profit  …  so for example a (heavily-abbreviated) summary of our key focus areas might be:

SALES – so we would get involved in Marketing

FOOD GROSS PROFIT – which is the relationship between the Cost and Selling prices

LIQUOR/BAR GROSS PROFIT, ditto

WAGES / LABOUR COSTS – very much the biggest ‘’trouble-maker’’, in profitability terms, and often the hardest to resolve

VARIABLE COSTS

  • RENT / RATES etc  …  negotiable but usually fixed for long periods.  If too high can simply make the business irretrievably unviable
  • UTILITIES – always need controlling
  • MARKETING – it is just too easy to spend too much, or to spend it unwisely with inadequate returns. Expenditure needs careful thought and strategic planning
  • CLEANING MATERIALS – are often over-used, abused, over ordered and under-controlled
  • LAUNDRY – too easily overused and overspent, needs ongoing challenging
  • MAINTENANCE – there is a big difference between Maintenance and Capital Expenditure, we need to be very clear which is which, and how planned and predictable Maintenance is
  • COST OF BORROWING – One of the biggest reasons for financial failure is borrowing too much  …  usually in the first place to buy / set up / improve the business.  We are here to generate profits  …  for whatever reason  …  and going out of business due to over-borrowing is a waste of precious time and precious money


SO  …  WHAT ELSE DO YOU LIKE TO KEEP AN EYE ON?

There are a number of other numbers that really do make a difference:

For example

  • With Food:
    • Covers (numbers of meals) served per meal session
    • Average spend per head, again per meal session
    • Average spend as above, on Food
    • Average spend as above, on Drinks
    • Numbers of covers sold on Special & Fixed Price Menus
  • With Drinks:
    • Wine list …  size, range, glasses offered
    • Pricing strategies behind all wines and other drinks

…  and just in case the Pub DOES have accommodation  …

  • With Accommodation:
    • Room nights sold and occupancy percentage
    • Bed nights sold and occupancy percentage
    • Average Room Rate achieved
    • Average Bed-night Rate achieved
    • REVPAR  … Revenue achieved per available Room
    • Forward bookings
    • Discounts allowed
    • Percentage of accommodation revenue sold by OTAs
    • Commissions paid for that OTA accommodation income
    • Complimentary rooms given away
    • Time taken (and this cost of) servicing a bedroom


SO  …  WHAT ELSE DO YOU LIKE TO KEEP AN EYE ON?

MARKETING OF THE FOOD & BEVERAGE OPERATION, and the rest of the busines

Yes, by the use of Print Media advertising, but these days largely through the use of Social Media too  …

MARKETING OF THE FOOD & BEVERAGE OPERATION  would include:

  1. the Strategy behind the type of Menu offered which depends on the local Market
  2. the type of food
  3. the pricing
  4. the offering of Fixed Price Menus, Specials and Promotions


SO  …  HOW DO WE DO THE WORK?

We analyse the Profit & Loss Accounts in detail, from which we can understand where the Profitability problems lie.

We talk that through with the client, and part of that is us saying how the issues can be resolved.

History shows that telling someone how to fix a problem and then walking away does not end up in successful change  …  so usually we will agree on a process which will mean US making sure that YOU are able to make the changes, with US monitoring progress.


SO  …  WHO DO WE DO THE WORK WITH?  

We will work with the business Owners, and the Managers, M.D.  /  General Manager / Head Chef / Deputy Manager / Sous Chef / Assistant Managers / Heads of Department.

We can assist individuals if they need specific development, and we can devise and deliver Training Courses specifically targeted at the business’s needs.


SO  …  HOW DO WE MONITOR PROGRESS?

With the best will in the world, even getting monthly Profit & Loss Accounts is just not enough.  This is a very fast-moving industry in which you HAVE to keep your ‘’eye on the ball’’ much more often than normal monthly P&Ls allow for.

The Banks like to see regular Profit & Loss accounts.

Out of pure frustration with not having enough figures information from a business fifteen years ago, David Hunter came up with a fabulous monitoring system which he called SPROWTS, and this is becoming more and more popular because IT WORKS !  and it has been improving ever since.

SPROWTS monitors all the key figures EVERY SINGLE WEEK, see the link to Sprowts on this website.  SPROWTS is a big part of what we do which is getting businesses more profitable and keeping them more profitable.

YES, we do still need the Monthly P&Ls to measure medium and long-term financial performance but Sprowts tells us week-on-week how we are doing so that we can take corrective action as soon as it is necessary.


SO  …  HOW DO WE KNOW WHAT FIGURES WE SHOULD BE ACHIEVING?

David Hunter is the expert, over the last 30 years he has worked with dozens of different businesses in this industry.  David will be able to BENCHMARK your business and set viable and achievable targets.


SO  …  WHAT ABOUT ‘’BLOODY BUDGETS’’ ?

Well, yes they can be very boring, BUT…

Budgets are very good, invaluable to be able to forecast how the business is expected to perform and perform financially over the next year.

And, the Banks like to see ‘’Bloody Budgets’’  and then they like to see the Profit & Loss accounts to show how the business has actually performed again the planned Budgets.