Creating a proper community pub needs a real family, who understand what families want, to be involved from the outset.
New franchisees Andrew and Lorraine Fuller are doing just that in their Marston’s pub in Dorset, where three generations of the family have pooled their talents, knowledge and resources to create the warm and inviting atmosphere of a true community ‘local’.
Lorraine and Andrew involved Andrew’s parents, Tricia and Tony, who have several decades’ experience of running large family pubs in the country. They have also drafted in their daughter Sian, her fiancé Joe and son Kieron to contribute in different ways running the pub.
They became franchisees when Andrew took early redundancy from the army. He had served all over the world for 27 rewarding years, promoted through the ranks to captain. The son of a publican, he had always wanted to have his own pub and lived and worked in pubs until he joined the army. His inside knowledge of the trade, combined with Lorraine’s experience in catering and hospitality, would make a powerful team to run a pub business.
Andrew and Lorraine are the franchisees, helped by dad Tony who is a useful mentor. Mum Tricia is more ‘front of house’, offering advice about décor, presentation and looking after customers. Tricia’s opinion is so highly valued that when she came to the pub for the first time, Andrew asked her to go out and come in again, so she could tell him what was wrong. She couldn’t fault a thing.
After running pubs all their married life, Tony and Tricia were approaching retirement when, coincidentally, they went to a Marston’s franchising seminar to see what it was all about. They liked everything about the brand - its look and feel, the support and the financial rewards. Had they been a bit younger, they might well have bought a franchise themselves.
Instead Tony suggested Andrew and Lorraine should look seriously at Marston’s. They took his advice and decided to find out more about the package. Andrew says: “Dad was right. Franchising was the best option for us in many ways and so much better than trying to do it all alone. The investment, training and support we have had is fantastic. Marston’s has given us every encouragement possible and yet we still have plenty of autonomy.
“I don’t think you could beat the package we have, particularly on the financial side. Marston’s made a heavy investment of £150,000 into refurbishing the pub to a very high standard, yet involved us every step of the way, listening to our thoughts and ideas, and briefing us on each aspect, including interior design.”
They opened for business in December 2013 to a fantastic reception from the local community, who welcomed them with open arms. Previously the pub had been what Andrew describes as a “sports pub”, where people came to watch Sky sport on a widescreen TV and drink beer, but was largely ignored by the majority of local people.
Andrew and Lorraine wanted to create a more inclusive atmosphere that would appeal to a much wider audience, so they cleverly used social media sites Facebook and Twitter to reach their target customers. This generated a great deal of interest and support long before the pub reopened its doors after the refurbishment.
“People love the new look, with different areas set aside for specific needs and with special facilities to cater for everyone,” Andrew explains. “Our customers also love the fact that we have changed the pub from a rowdy place into a family friendly one where children are welcomed and provision is made for them. We are already very popular, as we are the only pub like this in the village.”
Dave Price, Marston’s franchise operations manager, is keen to meet more family focused people with Lorraine and Andrew’s brand of dynamism and determination for the pub franchise opportunities that Marston’s has available across the country.
He says: “This couple, with the involvement of their family, have been hugely proactive at The Swans and have very imaginative marketing strategies to reach and inform their customers. This is undoubtedly a very popular community pub.”
A Marston’s pub franchise costs £15,000, with £20,000-£25,000 working capital required. No previous experience of the hospitality or catering sector is necessary, as all aspects of running a pub franchise business are covered by Marston’s comprehensive training and ongoing support programme.
Contact the franchise team on 0844 245 7422 or visit www.marstonsfranchise.co.uk.