Vine dining 17 January 2020 Andrew McKenzie and the 2019 Taittinger UK Sommelier of the Year Romain Bourger on the Vineyard’s winning wine formula
In this week's issue... Vine dining Andrew McKenzie and the 2019 Taittinger UK Sommelier of the Year Romain Bourger on the Vineyard’s winning wine formula
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Words from the Wise – Nick Halliday

20 January 2012
Words from the Wise – Nick Halliday

Nick Halliday, chief executive, Brownsword Hotels, shares his business secrets

Stand by your brand values Don't try to be all things to all people - establish your brand criteria up front and use it as a reference point as your business evolves.

Never lose sight of the bottom line It may sound obvious but it's surprising how many businesses are seduced by turnover. Managing a culture where departmental supervisors are exposed to P&L accountability mentors a healthy approach to conversion.

Don't over sell The best form of advertising is by word of mouth. Don't over-hype your marketing - keep back an element of surprise and exceed expectations on the customer journey. While instigating the "wow" factor means being on the front foot with original ideas and creative thinking - it is attention to detail that ultimately ensures service delivery.

Keep it simple Ultimately our business is all about customer experience. Implement a solid foundation as standard that ensures the team have the skills to consistently do the simple things well. In our business, personable people equipped with the right skills should be a combination that delivers success. Of course, it's not always as straightforward as that but it pays to have a "simple" approach.

Protect your business reputation A strong reputation is hard earned and yet can be easily lost if the necessary layers of protection and control aren't in place. The instant availability of online information means that real-time management of social media is of particular importance.

Empower the GM They are your ambassadors and set a tone that often dictates success at the unit. Invest in organic growth and watch shining stars develop in to strong managers capable of positively influencing the business. An emphasis on structured graduate and management training schemes ensures a healthy vibrancy across the business.

These are very often individuals who particularly identify with a career in hospitality and are committed to learning the trade. One of the most satisfying aspects of my role is to witness the progression of rising stars within the business.

Good decision

In 2004, I left the relative stability of working for an expanding hotel group to join an entrepreneur with a vision. Seven years later I am charged with running Andrew Brownsword's collection of 12 hotels, including Gidleigh Park, the Bath Priory, Amberley Castle and Lower Slaughter Manor to name a few.

The decision to join Andrew opened my eyes to developing a business from scratch and challenged my perspective of business. It taught me to view options from an alternative angle and allowed me to be creative. Growing a small business is personal and I've learned to value a team and have had to react quickly to maintain a competitive edge in tougher times. The decision to step outside your comfort zone isn't always easy but your instinct to do so is often right.

CV HIGHLIGHTS
1985-89 Management trainee, Savoy Group
â- 1999-04 General manager, Malmaison Newcastle
â- 2004-06 Head of operations, Abode Hotels
â- 2006-11 Managing director, Abode Hotels
â- 2011-now Chief executive, Brownsword Hotels

Motto You're only as strong as your weakest link. It doesn't mean that you don't recognise success - it just helps to focus on a drive for perfection and ultimately helps promote collective responsibility and team spirit.

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