Wednesday, 29 April 2015

Keep calm dear - it's only an interview!!!

Yep - my stress levels get set to rise again as we (SOH - Scrumptious Other Half and I) travel to London next week for the next round of judging to hopefully get us to be the winners of this years very prestigious BII Licensee of the Year award!

You may recall I've spoken previously about our quest for this award, we were semi-finalists the year before last, finalists last year and I'd quite like it to be third time lucky, but who knows.
This bout of judging last year was probably one of the most nerve wracking things I've done in many years - for all sorts of reasons.

Firstly, I WAS incredibly, gut wrenchingly nervous! I haven't felt as bad as that over anything in YEARS!!! I am so competitive and I so didn't want to let our team or customers or SOH down. I've had scores of interviews over the years and also interviewed many dozens of people myself, but this was sooooooo far out of my comfort zone.

But also I was still fat! Yes FAT! My clothes were tighter than tight and my button pinged off in the ladies before we'd  even said hello to the judges!! I did the whole process with a small safety pin that kept popping open and stabbing me in the tummy. I got anxious, hot and sweaty and my beautifully made up face resembled a cherry tomato by the time we were filmed at the end of the morning. It's very hard to concentrate and appear professional on answering questions from a Dragons Den type panel when all you can think about is whether your trousers will survive the next 2 hours!!!!!

When I'm nervous I speak even more - correction, I babble -  and faster than ever (I know, that's INCREDIBLY hard to believe!!) consequently my adrenalin levels went through the roof and by the end of the morning I had the headache from hell and didn't stop shaking for the best part of an hour afterwards.  I think I slept the entire journey back to Devon I was so shattered.

So my motto this year is: Keep Calm and be Awesome - because we know we're great, our business proves we're great, we've just got to remember everything we need to get across, do our homework on all the likely questions (remember to let SOH get a word or 3 in!) and as for trousers?? I have lost loads of weight since that cringe making morning and my interview outfit is ready to go!

We're meeting good friends the night before for a meal in London so I'm sure that will relax me no end:- memo to self relax does not mean get blotto!!!  Hung-over for an interview is definitely not a good look!!

This Friday though I have an absolutely lovely evening to look forward to as I'm going to MEET Michael Ball before his concert in Plymouth.  I've splashed out on one of the Meet & Greet tickets that seem to be so popular these days, and I have (I hope) a great seat after that event to see a man perform whose music I have loved for many years.

A Bank Holiday weekend and a diary full of bookings will also ensure that our minds are taken off next week and today has been spent typing up the summer menus for the 8 weeks that we will run them, starting Mid July. Just where is this year going!!!!????  Tables in the pub garden have been sanded and painted (a nice pale green - very pretty), once the frosts are gone there will be planting, and the bunting for regatta week has been ordered. We have nearly a full compliment of our summer team signed up and ready to go as well.

This weekend we have our resident Storyteller & Magician making themselves popular with kids and adults alike.  Hop over to the latest news page on our website for all the dates and times: Why don't you sign up for my infrequent chatty newsletters too whilst you're there?!

What else??? Oh I know, I have been immersing myself in the likes of Master Chef and also the new Alex Polizzi (Hotel Inspector etc) programme Chefs on Trial.  I absolutely love all of those sorts of programmes where our business in one way or another is examined and I'm always keen to see what we can learn.  I would love the opportunity to meet Alex and see what she thought of the Vic!! I already have some great ideas for the Autumn menu's and where we're going to go next with them and better still my kitchen team are up for the challenge. What is it?? Oh no, sorry - you'll have to wait and see!!

So till the next Blog when I'll tell you all about our trip to London town,

Much love

Liz x

Thursday, 23 April 2015

Hard work brings more work...........

I've long held a belief (drummed into me by my much loved, but long departed Mum) that (and I quote) 'Hard work never killed anyone' quickly followed by (I quote again!) 'But why give it a chance'!!!  Consequently, I've always had a very strong work ethic, and believe I've worked quite hard ever since I left school  at 15 &1/2 with not one qualification to my name (I was even a failed 11 plus).  So, where am I going with this blog tonight??

I guess it's to say I've never been so successful in my working life but I also NEVER worked so hard - EVER!!!!  The more successful and popular we become, we seem to be working harder than ever - but in other directions and not just pulling pints! (mind you being a publican is NEVER just about that!)

One day recently
For example - we implemented a feedback form for customers to tell us if they liked what we're doing, what could we do better and would they like a newsletter clogging up their inbox 4 times a year.

Good idea?? Absolutely blooming fabulous BUT.............. I now have to sit trying to decipher bad handwriting, enter it onto a database, deal with comments saying thank you or whoops!

A website?? Brilliant - but woe betide you if it's not kept current and up to date! (no point having it otherwise)

Trip Advisor (even those 2 words make me shudder) can make or break the mood of my day!!

Twitter, Face book and Instagram?? Oh my word - there are just not enough hours in the day!!!

So next time dearest darling customers, you wonder why I'm not behind the bar it's probably because I'm glued to a computer/phone/tablet screen somewhere. I might (pah!!) be on a beach somewhere hot and sunny (nothing planned for a while) but I guarantee my IPhone won't be far away!

But I like nothing more than meeting other successful people and I'm really lucky to know a few who are around me here in the South Hams and guess what?? They're also women!

Zoe - who owns The Beauty Lounge here in Salcombe.   A young woman with the most fantastic business. Great products, high work ethic and on her way after a relatively short period of time to being exceptionally good in her field. Already expanding her business and starting to be recognised for excellence in the field of Beauty.  

Sara who owns HAC in Kingsbridge is another:
she is an award winning salon owner who takes training to another level for her team. She makes visiting the hairdresser a unique experience and is the consummate professional. She takes young people with an interest in hairdressing and turns them into exciting and enthusiastic stylists.

Lastly its Shani who owns Bella Borsa - a beautiful Handbag shop - in Kingsbridge. What this woman doesn't know about handbags and how to sell them is no odds to anyone (much to my SOH's chagrin). It is almost physically impossible for me to walk in and walk out without buying one of her beautiful, high quality bags or purses.

What unites us as successful businesswomen?? A passion for excellence, a will to succeed, the drive for delivering a great product and a commitment to a high degree of customer satisfaction. As well as the ability to consume copious amounts of wine and chocolate when the going gets tough!!

But principally its hard work, determination and effort. 

On that note - I'm off to the pub to work a shift on the bar!

Love and hugs to you all,

Liz x