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Fri 29th Sep 2017 - Friday Opinion
Subjects: Over-celebrating the roast, nurturing loyalty over discount bounty hunters, and enticing talent by generating desire
Authors: Glynn Davis, Ann Elliott, and Chris Edger and Tony Hughes
 

Over-celebrating the roast by Glynn Davis

When Tim Martin announced JD Wetherspoon was to stop selling Sunday roast dinners he got more flak than he’d received for his vociferous support of Brexit. Surely a bit of roast meat, a few vegetables and lashings of gravy cannot be deemed worth more to fight for than keeping the country in the EU.
 
But apparently this is the case. The country seems to have a love affair with the traditional roast. This has puzzled me for a long time as it is the last meal I would choose when eating out. It leaves me a little cold (as the potatoes and gravy have too often been on the few occasions I’ve succumbed to the dish) because it is one of the easiest meals to cook.
 
Any fool can bung all those core ingredients in the oven and come out with something palatable. I find it entertaining so many venues state with great seriousness they have the best Sunday roast in the area, the town, the county, the country, the planet.
 
This reminds me of a pub I used to frequent in Paddington, The Dickens Tavern, which continues to claim it has the best fish and chips in London. For years this has amused a friend because one look at it tells you it is not even the best on the road – just like many of the places that suggest the same for their Sunday roast. In many cases it will be average at best. That’s because even when extremely well cooked, it is still a pretty anodyne dish.
 
I therefore read with interest we apparently have a British Roast Dinner Week coming soon, and research by Unilever Food Solutions has found 40% of consumers would like to see roast dinners on pub menus every day. For any pub mulling over doing just that, I’d suggest having a word with Tim Martin. They should also recognise this research also means a sensible 60% of customers don’t want to see it available every day.
 
Perhaps for this 60%, the roast is part of a keep Sunday special viewpoint. It certainly sells in vast quantities on the day of rest – and a roast definitely sends me into a state of stupefied rest. For this very reason I can understand why pubs and restaurants like it. It is also the dish lesser chefs can be let loose on. Apparently consumers eat 1.2 billion roast meals every year. I can believe it because whenever I’ve tried to get into a pub on a Sunday for a beer I think most of those people were in there with me.
 
Could it be that it’s not the actual roast I’m against, it’s the invasion it causes in pubs – rather like the Sunday-drivers phenomenon. Then again, perhaps not, and it’s really the over-glorification of an average dish I’m at odds with. There were some interesting words from Michelin-starred chef Mark Sargeant, who has been added to the list of judges for the forthcoming Best British Roast Dinner competition. He said he was “hoping for some impressive entries – maybe some seasonal side dishes or a bit of theatre in the way it is served”.
 
This suggests he clearly knows all too well the dish is really about the non-core accompaniments and the way it is served. This reminds me of Christmas lunch. Yes, it’s the best meal of the year but only because it is served on Christmas Day. This is its main redeeming feature. It is why eating out on Christmas Day at some swish restaurant is a bit of a waste of money as there is only so much even the very best chefs can do with the key ingredients.
 
I’m not completely against the roast dinner, it certainly has its place, but I have an issue with it being celebrated at a level that cannot be seriously justified. We can surely all do so much better in terms of the dishes that should be held in high esteem. Tim Martin thinks we can – even if he did support Brexit!
Glynn Davis is a leading commentator on retail trends
 

Nurturing loyalty over discount bounty hunters by Ann Elliott

The casual dining market has always, it seems, driven covers through the use of discount mechanics. Kids eat free, two main meals for the price of one, get a dessert free with every main course, and 50% off all food offers have all been around for as long as I can remember. Loyalty schemes too – Beefeater had a Family club and an Emerald club (each with more than 500,000 members) in the early 1990s.
 
So today’s apparent plethora of discount activity is nothing new. I do wonder, however, if we are just doing what we have always done – scared, almost, to get off the treadmill? Do we discount because we worry if we don’t someone else will and the competition, not our brand, will capture the discount-hungry customer base? Or are we taking time to consider alternative strategies and approaches and then, and only then, making the decision to go down the discount route in a measured and considered way?
 
I completely understand that horrible gut feeling when like-for-likes are down yet again – I have been there more times than I care to remember. I have witnessed desperate chief executives asking the marketing team to do “something, anything” to find footfall and to do so quickly with phrases such as “Let’s just test the art of the possible here, eh?” added in for good measure.
 
Discounting is so easily done. It’s a quick fix. It can sort out today’s, and perhaps tomorrow’s, covers problem. Most customers want a bargain, great value and to feel they’ve got a deal. They may move from brand to brand in search of that deal but at least they are out there eating and drinking rather than staying at home. They may not be loyal but they may be frequent depending on what you are offering.
 
I can’t help feeling, though, that a lot of time, effort and money goes into chasing customers who don’t really care which brand they use as long as they have a discount – a pizza is a pizza to them. All the brand equity you might be building up by having great sites, fabulous interiors, wonderful teams, consistent food, and engaging consumer communications is wasted on this group of people. They probably can’t tell their Ask from their Prezzo or their Pizza Hut from their PizzaExpress.
 
All the while, though, you may have a group of loyal users who come back to you because they really love what you do and are true advocates of your brand. They might visit you once or twice a month – for different occasions with different groups of people on different dayparts. They may use a discount but that’s not their motivation for visiting you. These customers could potentially only comprise 15% to 20% of your customer numbers but they may account for a significantly high proportion of your sales – perhaps 40% or even 50%. It’s vital to know. It’s surely more cost-effective to market to this group of people rather than the 85% of people who may comprise the other 50% of your sales?
 
It is this group of loyal customers you need to understand, appreciate, love and cherish. What do they love about your brand that you change at your peril? What do they think you do that you don’t need to do? What do they want you to stop or start doing? In my experience this group of customers have lots to say and want to say it because they are proud of using you. Loyal customers are a joy to have in a focus group.
 
Once you know who they are, it’s not hard to find more like them. Customer targeting is now so easy with social media. Your loyal customers are the ones you need to nurture – not the discount bounty hunters. These are the people who need to think you are brilliant value all the time because of the experience you offer in your brand rather than the discount percentage you have on your vouchers.
Ann Elliott is chief executive of Elliotts, the leading integrated marketing agency in the hospitality and leisure sector – www.elliottsagency.com
 

Enticing talent by generating desire by Chris Edger and Tony Hughes

Service businesses are people businesses – they thrive through enticing talent with great people-handling skills. This means organisations need to communicate with, attract and hire the right candidates, namely those with a great attitude and a real “service personality”. But how should they go about generating a real desire to join them?
 
Creating a brand candidates crave: The first building prop that needs putting in place is an appealing brand proposition that candidates will crave. The perceptions of prospective staff will be influenced by the reputation of the brand or company; something they will have “felt” either through their own dealings with the brand or what other people say (directly or online).
 
Noble calling: An attractive brand proposition is vital and this must obviously be accompanied by equitable terms and conditions of employment. We would also offer the observation that companies which operate in sectors traditionally regarded as low-paying – retail and hospitality especially – should think hard about what the work they offer will mean to those they hope to entice on-board. Organisations within these sectors must think about “the calling” they are offering potential recruits, which offer high levels of intrinsic value, alongside acceptable terms and conditions that fulfil basic extrinsic needs.
 
Alluring marketing: The way in which an organisation presents itself to potential recruits is, of course, crucial in securing the right calibre of candidates. Often recruitment is left solely to HR professionals. The best recruiters do not limit the task to HR – they also involve marketeers who appreciate the importance of alluring imagery, a presentation with impact, and targeted demographics. Showing how Jack or Zoe have been nurtured, trained and have progressed through the organisation – in their own words – connects with the dreams and aspirations of Generation Z jobseekers who feel like all humans do – an overwhelming desire for personal improvement, achievement and worthwhile contribution!
 
Rigorous assessment: Often organisations have to shift their sights to recruiting “B graders” who have the potential to shift up to “A grade” status. So how do you spot people who will be tireless advocates, zealots and evangelists? Those with pace, a pleasing aesthetic appearance, pace, energy and determination to do well for both themselves and the brand?

– Pre-screen: The best companies calibrate the true character and potential of the potential recruit. What do they really feel about the job and the company? What are their dreams and aspirations?

– Values-based interviews: A technique we would advocate as being particularly revealing and successful in uncovering people’s core values is asking candidates to “list three people you admire and respect, and explain why”. The traits they mention are – most likely – indicative of the traits they aspire to imitate and copy.

– Strength-based interviews: Useful questions we have found that “unlock” strengths and weaknesses include “describe a good day you have had”, “what do other people say you are good at”, “what makes you really happy at work”, “what do you find comes easiest to you at work”, “what sort of experiences give you real energy”, and “tell me about something you’ve achieved that you’re really proud of”?

– Audition/role play/trials: Of course, particularly for service-based roles the best way of judging candidate suitability is through analysing people’s behaviours with other team members and customers. This can be achieved through “theatrical-simulated” auditions and role plays or on-the-job trials.

– Emotional intelligence testing: Great service companies hire people with high levels of emotional intelligence – individuals able to empathise with their co-workers and customers and who can put themselves “in their shoes”. There are many ways companies can test for emotional intelligence but one technique that trumps all others is testing levels of personal self-awareness and insight. This can be tested through interviews and observation but validity is increased if psychometric testing is included, particularly tests that ask candidates to honestly appraise their feelings and reactions in certain situations.
 
Support from opinion-formers: This is something McDonald’s in the UK targeted and achieved in the mid-2000s. Alongside revamping its “employer branding”, the company also ramped up its training and development systems, offering staff the opportunity to undertake a suite of nationally-accredited courses that would improve their level of skills and employability. In doing so, the company won a suite of awards, became regularly cited as one the UK’s best companies to work for and, as a result, made parents feel McDonald’s was a good company for their sons and daughters to work for.
 
In summary, enticing people to work for your organisation comes down to creating strong feelings of desire among potential candidates. We would also offer other insights. First, the message companies must put out is that they are out to groom stars “not necessarily for what they have done in the past but what they are going to achieve in the future”. Second, companies should always highlight not just the personal benefits individuals would reap but also the wider social upsides of being part of an elite, high-performing team that derives a huge degree of satisfaction and fun from what it does.
This article was extracted from Chris Edger and Tony Hughes’ book “Inspirational Leadership – How to Mobilise Super-performance through eMOTION”. Professor Chris Edger is a multiple author on retail leadership and Tony Hughes is a luminary of the European foodservice scene

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