Tuesday, 27 January 2009

Something special

I haven't said much about the economic situation. I'm hoping the exchange rate is going to stop people going abroad, hopefully the summer, for the pubs that are still open, will be quite good. After all, everyone likes a drink with good company and even better on a hot lazy sunny day.

I don't say too much about Wetherspoons either. I do not like the places and will not ever pretend to. I do admire Tim Martin, however. Anybody who can make people part with money for such a low quality product is a wizard. That does mean I should admire McDollop and Bugger King as well. Perhaps, in a way, I do.

As a result of the Credit CrunchTM our usual man who acquires our continental fizzy stuff has cash flow problems. He's owed a large amount of money by some corporate prats. He owes a lesser amount to James Clay, the company who imports the beers. James Clay is reluctantly putting his account on stop. In normal times the bank would extend my suppliers overdraft and everything would be OK. But despite the government giving money to the banks to stop this happening, they are tightening up on all businesses. Nobody is happy about this, not me, not my man and not James Clay. Perhaps the banks are happy, because they now have taxpayers money and seem to be able to keep hold of it.

Today we had to go to James Clay ourselves, browse through a large warehouse full of beer and choose what we wanted. I was like a kid in a candy store. We came back with rather more than we went for, I just hope we can sell it all. It was worth going though. We got given a much larger than usual quantity of point of sale freebies, you know, branded glasses, bar runners, chalk boards etc.

On the way back we called at a very good pub, chosen by Ann from the good beer guide. We needed lunch so a call at the Fox and Goose was in order. As soon as I walked in I knew it was a good ale pub. I also guessed, fairly quickly that food was not a driver behind this pubs success. 4 hand pulls all with something interesting. Nice beers, nice chap running it and worthy of a visit. But no food for us.

So we ended up stopping at a motorway service station for a crap baguette pizza thing and a coffee. Left on the table was a copy of the Daily Mirror. We wouldn't buy it normally, but it was worth every penny we paid for it. Reading through Ann found an article on Wetherspoons. There he goes again, I thought, the master of PR, Tim Martin. And it just goes to show the target audience he has, Mirror readers.

Eventually, I reluctantly read the article. Through the rather smug comments about how he's still going to do OK, because he's selling crap beer for 99p a pint, he is also pointing out that people want something different in a pub. This is how he is winning. Yes, OK, he's playing dirty by selling volume at knock down prices where other pubs can't, but there is something else there. There is something that has got the run of the mill pubs, well, running. Like no other chain pub they also provide variety. I think there is lots the rest of the pub trade could learn from Tim Martin. He does say "customers are willing to spend a bit extra for something special". It doesn't take that much to be special compared to Wetherspoons.

So now I'm sitting drinking something special, and it's all Tandleman's fault. His blog alerted me to the NWBF, where I tried Budvar Dark. Now I've gone and bought a keg of the stuff. I think it's quite nice and when trade is slow I can still have a dark beer on without the problems of a cask not selling. And I can hold my head high because I'm selling something special.

7 comments:

Paul Garrard said...

Nice picture of the Erdinger Dunkel casks.

I agree that if people have the money they will be prepared to pay for something different or unusual. Every business needs a USP!

Tandleman said...

See, I'm useful for something!

Velky Al said...

Glad to hear you got the Budvar Dark, it is a lovely beer.

Woolpack Dave said...

Paul, I had to take the picture of the beer tower, it just looked so good. I should point out that I deliberately made it look much more precarious than it is by the camera angle. I was nearly lying on the floor to get the shot. I was actually really impressed with James Clay site safety.

Tandleman, I do wonder sometimes if I'm favouring you too much, but your blog is the highest referring URL for my blog, so perhaps you deserve it.

Velky Al, I've got Westmalle Dubbel to go on after that. Jeff Bell worries that these beers might compete too much with cask. I worry that they won't sell at all. After all they are going to be considerably more expensive than cask. It will be an interesting experiment.

Velky Al said...

At least you are trying different things, if the Budvar Dark doesn't sell there are worse things you could do with it than use it for marinating steaks.

Tandleman said...

Dave - You can never favour me enough - in my view of course. (-;

I wouldn't worry too much about taking cask sales away. Most people will mix and match to suit mood and pocket. Choice will bring its own custom, as will rarity. You seem to be doing a lot of good things and I look forward to coming to see for myself as my German trips will be severely curtailed until the pound recovers a bit.

Tyson said...

The Fox & Goose is indeed an excellent pub-I've been there many times. You actually weren't far from another pub that does decent beer and grub. The Stubbing Wharf
www.stubbingwharf.com/
as immortalised by Poet Laureate Ted Hughes.