Case Studies

The Restaurant

Simon Scarborough Associates was contracted by a long-established local restaurant which, although extremely popular during the summer months, suffered from poor trade during the winter. The brief was to stimulate business during the latter quieter period and to put forward and implement proposals to build on the peak-season success.

Our first step was to make two in cognito visits – one on a busy Saturday evening and second on a much quieter midweek evening. The quality of the food was of the highest standard but, although the staff were welcoming and attentive, they lacked focus and “team spirit”. There was little or no attempt to up-sell or to re-book.

We subsequently reviewed the restaurant’s website and tracked social media activities, before presenting the owner with our recommendations, including:

  • Initiating team-building exercises for all staff to ensure they were familiar and comfortable with the owner’s service ethos and ambitions, with an emphasis on working together to court repeat business.
  • Developing closer contacts with the restaurant’s wine supplier, to negotiate special rates on a “wine of the month”. Our proposals also included specialist training for all customer-facing staff to increase their knowledge of the featured wines.
  • Incorporating data-capture cards into the bill-holders, with clients entered into a monthly prize draw and cash incentives for the staff members collecting the most completed cards.
  • In conjunction with the owner and chef, developing a year-long calendar of monthly events based around traditional occasions (eg Mother’s Day, Easter weekend) and local activities and celebrations. The calendar is to be publicised in the restaurant itself, and on the website and via social media.
  • Establishing a series of marketing and promotional activities, such as a quarterly cookery “school” led by the chef and his crew, and the availability for purchase of restaurant gift vouchers to encourage repeat business.

The end result? Simon Scarborough Associates was duly retained for a further six months to implement all of the above recommendations, and the work is ongoing.

The guesthouse

The owner of a ten-key bed-and-breakfast guesthouse asked Simon Scarborough Associates to compile a Hotel Inspector’s report and to provide quick-win recommendations to help generate more off-season business.

Before we visited the property, Simon Scarborough Associates checked the guesthouse’s own website for accuracy and navigability, read and analysed TripAdvisor ratings and comments, and visited third-party booking sites and the local tourist board site to see how the property is positioned.

Finally, Simon Scarborough Associates completed a room-by-room inspection of the guesthouse itself and conducted in-depth interviews with the owner/proprietor before presenting a series of recommendations, including.

  • The creation of a year-round calendar of room packages, not simply for traditional festive and Bank Holiday weekends, but also linked to local events and attractions. The packages are loaded on to the guesthouse website (and on appropriate third-party sites) and supported by email and social media campaigns.
  • Up-selling individual “feature” rooms. Originally, all rooms were offered at a flat B&B rate, even though some were larger or more characterful than others. Re-visiting the pricing strategy generated additional revenues.
  • Although within walking distance of the town centre, the property is set on a side-street in a quieter area, making it especially suitable for the corporate market, which is less seasonal than the leisure sector.
  • With just ten rooms, the guesthouse also lends itself to sole use – for celebratory events such as anniversaries, for corporate incentives and team-building exercises, and for high net worth international students attending local language schools.
  • While the owner is unable to offer a restaurant-style dinner service, it was suggested that she could provide pre-ordered evening meals on an ad hoc basis. Equally, the sale of home-made and local produce such as jams and chutneys, although not a significant revenue stream, would add to the guesthouse’s “homely” charm.

The end result? Within one year, the property was transformed into the best and most popular hotel in town. Residential guests benefited from a vastly-improved hotel experience, and the hotel’s lounge, bar, restaurant and gardens became a focal point for business and social gatherings. The hotel has been recognised with a number of hospitality industry awards, and newly-generated business continues to make a positive impact on the all-important bottom line.

The four-star hotel

Simon Scarborough Associates undertook a major turnaround programme for a 95-room four-star hotel which, although trading comfortably, was failing to realise its full potential. The project involved a root-and-branch examination of all aspects of the business and initiating new or improved practice where appropriate.

Preliminary investigations revealed that the property – and its staff – was heavily reliant on a dwindling number of regular guests; the décor had become “tired”; service had become complacent; and the very traditional food and beverage offering had failed to keep up with changing modern tastes.

Simon Scarborough Associates first reviewed all aspects of the hotel, inspecting guestrooms and public areas, meeting all department heads, identifying operational challenges, and re-establishing relationships with suppliers. With a sound understanding of the status quo, we then began to introduce a wide range of improvements.

  • Our first step was to develop a clear-cut sales and marketing plan, backed by an extensive and ongoing promotional campaign. Room rates and F&B prices were subjected to close scrutiny and adjusted as appropriate.
  • Working closely with the executive chef and his team, the restaurant menus were overhauled to incorporate more locally-sourced ingredients, and new offers – afternoon teas, garden parties, champagne receptions – were introduced to attract non-residential walk-in business.
  • Simon Scarborough Associates also initiated a hotel-wide staff training programme, to develop (and reward) improved service levels. Customer-facing employees were encouraged to adopt a more friendly, but courteous, relationship with all guests and visitors, and actively to seek new business opportunities.
  • Inexpensive but effective changes were made to the public areas, with elements such as soft furnishings, floral arrangements, and all printed matter upgraded and updated to create a more vibrant ambience.
  • We also placed a strong emphasis on building revenues from local businesses, increasing the hotel’s meetings and events business, offering fast-tracked business lunches, and upgrading selected rooms to meet business guests’ specific requirements.

Simon Scarborough Associates negotiated an extended block booking with a local language school, ensuring consistent steady income throughout the winter months until the start of the peak season in June.