David Moore is the owner of Pied a Terre and L'autre Pied, London
Have sound advice at boardroom level Non-executive directors should be the kind of people who aren't afraid to challenge you. Our non-executive directors have been with us since the beginning and they bring a lot of value. They are very different people and while one is always cautious, the other sees opportunities so they bring a great balance. For instance, while one predicted the economic crisis and was against us opening L'Autre Pied in 2007, the other saw it as a great business opportunity. In the end the opening of L'Autre Pied generated PR for Pied à Terre and helped boost both businesses.
Don't be afraid of making difficult decisions In order to be successful you have to make difficult decisions. If you've really thought something through and know it's right for the business then you have to do it, no matter how hard it is. When you have to let someone go, do it as gentlemanly as you possibly can - don't break them down, they're still human beings. How you treat people in those difficult decisions and situations forms who you are.
Let people do their jobs Give people the freedom to do their jobs. Even though they probably won't do it as well as you would you can't let it annoy you. Empower them and let them make mistakes and learn from them. If everyone did their job perfectly there'd be no place for bosses.
Figure out the integrity of a book-keeper Find someone you can really trust, because if they give you just one wrong piece of information it can be detrimental to your business. Having your accounts audited is expensive but it's a really good health-check. Every time we have our accounts audited we make savings. It gives you a big sense of security and if ever you do get into financial difficulty, the banks will want to see your audited accounts over the past three years.
Embrace technology Hospitality is an industry that is slow to embrace technology but it won't go away and can only make you better. We have had great results with our website through search engine optimisation and making sure that third-party information about the restaurants is correct. We were able to increase traffic from 12,000 hits a month for both restaurants to 20,000 just for Pied à Terre.
HIGHS AND LOWS
A pivotal moment was when Pied à Terre burnt down in September 2004. The fire broke out in the middle of the night, with no one around to hear the fire alarm. Eventually someone from the hotel across the road noticed and called the fire brigade. The third floor was completely destroyed - everything was gone and we had to close the restaurant for almost a year.
But it gave us the chance to think about things and how to improve the business. We realised that we needed a manager because after 13 years of being on the floor every night I didn't need to be there any more. We realised that taking the brand forward was not about me taking the next order, it's about me thinking of the next idea. My job changed, which has allowed me to become more media-facing and TV definitely brings in customers. You have these pivotal moments in life where a light bulb comes on and you are forced to reconsider.
1986-1991 Assistant restaurant manager, Le Manoir aux Quat'Saisons, Great Milton, Oxfordshire
1991 Owner, Pied à Terre and L'Autre Pied, London