Words from the Wise – Nathan Jones

16 March 2012
Words from the Wise – Nathan Jones

Nathan Jones, co-founder & director of Harbour & Jones, shares his business secrets

It's your people that make the difference
When Patrick and I set up Harbour & Jones, we knew that the most important thing to get right was the team. Our recruitment methods are not always conventional, but they are designed to seek out passionate, sparkling personalities who can deliver great service, inspire team members and differentiate us from other caterers. Our guys are on the front line, the immediate face of the business, and I want to know that our customers are going to see happy smiling faces with a can-do attitude.

Direct, but be prepared to listen
It's not always easy to strike a balance between forging ahead with your own ideas and accepting advice. A company needs its leaders, but those leaders must also listen, to their staff, their clients and their customers. Hospitality is not a one-size-fits-all industry and different clients have different needs. We listen to and work with our customers to give them a tailor-made solution. Current economic pressures mean that I find us using this skill regularly. My job is to make a client think more clearly about what they want to achieve with maximum impact, and yet, with minimum disruption.

In our industry, trends are quick to move in and move on and it's important to stay ahead of the game. We are constantly striving to introduce new ideas, whether that is identifying new products or suppliers, creating exciting ideas for events, or finding new ways to motivate our staff. We know we've got it right when others jump on our bandwagon. Then it's time for us to find something else new!

Stick to your core values
Our core values run through Harbour & Jones like writing through a stick of rock. They are what we have built our business on and Patrick and I have worked very hard to instil them into our team. Don't become a busy fool; look for clients with like-minded culture and values. Be brave and do not chase business for the sake of turnover. Make it count, and never dilute your virtues as a business.

Make time for your colleagues
A beer after work, half an hour over a coffee, take them to a rugby or football match. Life is stressful and pressures of work are sometimes not as bad as they may seem if problems are shared with your boss. I find you get the best out of people if you take an interest in them and help them do their job.

best advice
Never over-sell then under-deliver. Be realistic in what you try to do. Don't over-complicate things. Do exactly what you say you will do for clients.

1991 -94 Assistant to area manager, CCG Services
â- 1994-99 Director, business development, Principal Catering Consultants (including Fayre)
â- 1999-03 Sales director, Wilson Storey Halliday (including Houston & Church)
â- 2000-present Co-founder & director, Harbour & Jones

Business mantra Work hard and the fruits of your efforts will be rewarded. Our industry is amazing, put the effort in and you will be recognised.

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