INDEPENDENT PUBS are in the midst of a financial nightmare right now – and borrowing more to see them through really isn’t a sensible option.
But while they hang on for an improvement in the trading environment – or even a government intervention – local publicans can still take low-cost action to improve their cash flow.
According to Lennoxtown-based business accountant Julie Campbell, using free social media to promote a hospitality offering can be surprisingly impactful on the bottom line, while funding for local advertising and marketing is often available via Business Gateway.
“Honestly it’s a nightmare for pubs just now,” said Ms Campbell. “They are being hit from all directions. The cost of servicing the additional loans they took on to make it through Covid is a huge drain on cashflow so cash reserves are depleted.
“If they aren’t still in contracts for their electricity/gas then the heat and light costs are astronomical. Those that are still in contract for their gas/electricity will be dreading the contract coming to an end.
“This, coupled with the general cost of living increases, is making it a very difficult industry to operate in and then minimum wage increases coming will be a further cost,” she warned.
“Additional financing isn’t really the way forward for them as it needs to be repaid. The local governments should be providing more support to them – a rates holiday at the very least would help. They are key to Scotland’s tourism and hospitality industry and need more proper financial support.”
However Ms Campbell stressed that publicans aren’t powerless against the financial tide, if they can harness social media to promote their offering: “I’ve had businesses increase their turnover massively from doing this,” she said.
“If you put on events/singers/food specials/menu offers, you must tell people! They don’t know what’s on or how good your pub is until you let them know. Advertise your opening hours and the hours you serve food. The regulars already know this, but the outside world doesn’t.
“Create pages on platforms such as Facebook/Instagram/Tik Tok/or your own webpage. Post your events and get them shared. If you’re unsure about using these platforms then get your family/staff involved to help, but do monitor it,” she advised.
“The offer of a prize, even small, gets people sharing far and wide. Put pictures of your food on Instagram, let people see how good it is. Make them want to come for your specials. Tell people if you are sponsoring something, let the local community know you are involved and part of it.”
She continued: “In some cases Business Gateway may even offer funding for advertising and marketing. This changes all the time so it’s worth contacting them www.bgateway.com or checking www.findbusinesssupport.gov.scot to see what’s available.
“Promote your business – give people a reason to come to you and get talking about you.”