Words from the Wise: Andrew Harmer
Andrew Harmer, managing director of Wilde Thyme, reveals some of his business secrets.
Never assume that business will just come in If you have a concept that works, that's great, but you can't afford to be complacent in this market. Always look for opportunities that fit in with the company vision and business model to keep up momentum. Stay up to date with what's going on across the industry and don't be afraid to take risks.
Networking is more important than ever - don't just wait for clients to approach you, get on the phone and express your interest - it shows enthusiasm and a positive attitude.
Bring back the personal service Having a fantastic event is the culmination of months, sometimes years, of planning and the most important aspect is service - for both the clients and their guests. In this tough economic climate, clients, more than ever, expect first class service and this is often the deciding factor when choosing which company to use.
Investment in people Employ a team with a diverse skill set - this gives you a much better foundation to run your business. Training, development and staff retention is very important. Clients build relationships with people and they feel comfortable working with people that they know and trust to deliver.
That said though, don't be afraid to bring in fresh, new talent. It's great to get new perspectives on business from fresh eyes - you never stop learning in this industry and your team can be one of your strongest, or weakest, links.
Seasonality and local produce Fresh local produce is the story of what you do. People are much more interested in local/national sourcing; they like the stories of its origin and we have great people in the country that are passionate about their produce.
Local produce is competitively priced and it keeps the chefs interested in their job as they are not working like robots on the same menu all year. This gives you a cutting edge when it comes to menu content.
Here in Scotland, we have the best natural larder in the world and we are proud to showcase it to its fullest in our menus.
Having worked at the Gleneagles hotel for nine years (five as executive chef) I was ready to go out into the business world. When the opportunity with Wilde Thyme came along, I jumped at it. It was a risk, I was starting a new time of my life but I knew I was ready for it.
I get great pleasure out of what we do - we are a restaurant and party design company on wheels. We set the business up to deliver the best experience in this industry and each day brings a new challenge.
â- Worked at Langans bar and grill as chef de partie/sous chef
â- Head Chef at Lochgreen House,Troon, in 1994
â- Executive chef of the Gleneagles hotel, 1996-2005
â- Co-owner and catering director, WildeThyme, 2005
â- Managing director and co owner, 2010
You are only as good as your last performance. Treat the people you work with and working contractors the same as your business clients - with respect. A happy team results in a happy client.