Thursday 5 March 2009

Quality, that's the good news

We were without any electricity today. United Utilities were replacing stuff in the valley electrical supply. There is one line up the valley so any work necessitates a complete power down. We decided that we should be closed for the day. We decided to attend a Cumbria Tourist Board Members Meeting instead. They can often be useful if they have relevant subjects by the speakers. Today it was about food and drink, so right up my street.

Chicken ParcelOn the way out we met the Post Lady and so grabbed the post. As my knee is still slightly swollen Ann was driving. To prevent me from nagging about her gear change I read The Morning Advertiser which was amongst the post. Andrew Prings editorial was mainly encouraging readers to find some good news. Too many of us are "talking down" the trade. I think he's right and I'm just as much to blame as everyone else.

So, that put me in the right mood to look for good news. Luckily, despite some serious potential problems for the tourism industry in general, there was indeed some worthy points of optimism. It is a message I've heard many times before and indeed has contributed to shaping what we do here. It is the message of quality.

When running a business it is important to look at ones competitors. I have regularly done this. I look at similar businesses that are doing well. Crucially, it is the businesses that have decided to focus on quality that have consistently provided better business results. Food, in particular, is the area that has been most successful in nearly every single case study I have heard about. A pub, inn, hotel or restaurant that makes an improvement to the quality of the food does better. That seems obvious doesn't it?

Baked AlaskaThis really does explain to me the "Gastro Pub" phenomena. The reason why more and more I see comments about such and such a pub doesn't do pies, or sausage or chips anymore. It's because this is the good news in the pub industry. I have been to so many business seminars where the examples of success are not the regular pub stuck in the 70's doing something not much better than chicken in a basket, but are the ones doing something a little more fancy.

One speaker pointed out today that the majority of decisions about the venue for a night out or a weekend away was being made by the female of the relationship. For the ladies, value for money is not just about how many calories are on the plate for £9.99, but the quality of what is there. The majority of social spending is made by couples.

Of course the other bit of good news I heard about today was that quality goes hand in hand with local. Chianti was discussed alongside locally produced Real Ale. The Michelin experienced chef was very much in favour of the local stuff.

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