The chef with no name 24 January 2020 How James Cochran lost the rights to his own name, and his triumphant comeback with Islington restaurant 12:51
In this week's issue... The chef with no name How James Cochran lost the rights to his own name, and his triumphant comeback with Islington restaurant 12:51
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Words from the Wise – Mike Bevans

02 March 2012
Words from the Wise – Mike Bevans

Mike Bevans, owner, Linthwaite House, Cumbria, shares his business secrets

Don't stand still, you'll fall over
Relish change. It's what keeps life interesting. The status quo is simply a very dull alternative. Hotels are constantly evolving. I like to keep everyone on their toes, engaged and involved in the process.

The really exciting and challenging thing for any business now is the social media stuff. In every organisation there will be a 20-something champion who understands it; so use them.

Managers and entrepreneurs
There is a fundamental difference between managers, who don't risk their own wealth, and entrepreneurs. Entrepreneurs often come into the industry from outside. They aren't blinkered and have a can-do attitude.

When we started Linthwaite, we risked everything financially. Probably stupid. Definitely exciting.

Hospitality is about people
I love people. I knew I wanted to go into hotels at a young age because I liked meeting people. They make or break your business. But people aren't on the balance sheet.

The three most important elements of our business are the staff, guests, (potential and otherwise) and last but not least, the suppliers. Treat them all with the utmost courtesy and respect their power. They are all equal.

Train yourself
You should never stop learning. The natural course of events is for older managers to no longer learn about new things. There are so many exciting things happening change-wise in society and in our industry. Keep up or fall behind.

The brand is king
Hoteliers are brand managers. That's what we need to focus on. Does the guest love your brand? If not, you have failed. Star ratings no longer do it for you as many younger people don't understand or respect them.

Think of your five favourite brands; you will have some, even if it's a just a football team, or Apple, or HP sauce. Why do they please you? Can your brand do the same for your customers? If not, what are you going to do about it, today?

Just do what you like, literally
I am amazed by and admire people who have the tenacity to work every day in jobs they don't enjoy. Those of us who still enjoy what we do are lucky.

I try to apply the philosophy to everything we do in my business. If I don't like the food, we don't service it. If I don't like the design of something we won't use it. It may be regarded as arrogant, but if it works, stick to it.

Just believe in your own judgement, have the courage of your convictions and stop worrying so much about what the competition is up to.

My mentor
Phil Taylor, my first manager. He taught me to look up to and respect staff. If someone resigned, he wouldn't accept it. He called it a cry for help. He never shouted at a member of staff. He was also a great delegator.

CAREER HIGHLIGHTS
1972 Assistant manager, Sackville hotel, Hove, part of Myddleton Hotels Group
â- 1975 General manager, Sackville hotel
â- 1980 Managing director, Sackville hotel & Royal Crescent hotel, Brighton
â- 1984-87 General manager, Craigendarroch, Scotland. New opening design and launch
â- 1988 Managing director, UK resorts division, Langdale Resorts
â- 1990 Acquisition of Linthwaite House hotel
â- 2001 Became a Master Innholder

Motto
Don't give up. When we first bought the business in 1990 there were difficult times. Property values were declining so the balance sheet looked bad. The Gulf War kicked off when we relaunched in March 1991, scuppering my USA market strategy. We could have gone bust twice. But we didn't. Since then we have had the foot and mouth crisis, high interest rates and all sorts of other problems to contend with.

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