In 2013, Darren Walsh and his business partners, Yvonne and Gary West, all of whom had no previous experience in the restaurant or hospitality industry, were given the chance to open their own pub.
Seizing the opportunity to open their own business, which had always been a goal, Darren, Yvonne and Gary launched OFF THE GRID (OTG) Bar & Kitchen as an English-style pub and restaurant.
Since then, the restaurant has rebranded into an industrial-style bar and kitchen, but the loyal clientele that the business has built up over the past eight years has remained loyal – and continues to grow.
Lessons from the front line
Knowing nothing about hospitality, OTG’s founders quickly learnt the value of teamwork. “Identifying key personnel, adapting to changing situations, separating business from personal life and the implementation of systems were all lessons that we needed to learn early on,” says Darren.
“Our growth phase was more about understanding customer dynamics and catering to current market trends, while still maintaining our identity. This was something that took time to blend together, but we’ve made it work.”
By keeping their fingers on the pulse of their business, Darren and his business partners have built OTG by watching their stock closely, understanding their business from the inside out, investigating everything, and following their gut instincts.
Here are five more lessons that they believe are the foundations for success in the restaurant industry:
- Blend old-school values with new-school ideas.
Always maintain your old school values, especially business integrity, no matter the situation. But don’t let that stop you from bringing in new ideas and new ways of doing business either.
- Manage cash flow and budgets.
Determine what is most important in your business and focus on that. Manage your debt and understand your numbers, and plan for the worst and expect the best. An integrated payment solution ensures that you always know exactly what is coming into your business and can track your trends and projected cash flows.
- Implement systems and procedures.
The true value of your company is in its systems. Implementation of a solid stock system is essential from the start.
- Listening skills.
Focus on the people in your business, including your employees, customers and suppliers. You’re only as strong as the team surrounding you.
Know where you want to go and ensure continuous improvement by trying new things and adapting to changing markets. Revise your relationships with customers, staff and suppliers regularly. Make sure the people surrounding you are of value to your business.
Working with suppliers that care as much as you do
With this level of passion and commitment, Darren and his business partners make sure they are working with partners and suppliers who take their business as seriously as they do.
“When we launched, we were with a different payment solution supplier,” says Darren. “As new kids on the block, we didn’t believe we were receiving the level of service we needed to ensure we could grow our business. Sureswipe introduced themselves and promised us the world and five years later, they continue to deliver everything they have promised.”
As a bar and kitchen, portable card payment machines are an absolute necessity. “As most experienced business owners will understand, business is fluid and ever-changing. You need that ability to move around and adapt. Having portable machines are a must in any restaurant. You need the ability to move from table to table. Fixed machines are simply not an option.”
Sureswipe’s latest solution for OTG has been a direct response to load shedding. “Due to load shedding and cell towers going down, we needed to find another way of ensuring our machines were always working. Because we always have access to our Sureswipe team, we reached out, and they came back to us with a WiFi-enabled machine that ensures we are always able to use our Fibre connection at those times when conventional machines are out of order.”
To find out more about our portable card machines, fixed card machines and integrated payment solutions, contact Sureswipe today on 0860 200 111 or click here and we’ll call you back.