Attention Any and every SME
but especially Hoteliers!
to see how the ideas on this page could be used in your business
Welcome to Craig y Nos Castle 2018 - and our latest great Marketing Ideas (we call them Marketing Keys) which you can discover for your own business.
As of 2018 my castle hotel needs to increase its volume of business yet again, just to get above ever higher (mainly Government imposed) outgoings. I suspect I am not alone. Are you too experiencing surging wages, soaring electricity and heating costs, and extortionate business rates?
If so, join us on our Marketing Journey and be Inspired.
We will see a few hotels cease trading this year and next, especially those whose prices are just too low that they cannot increase them fast enough. I am even seeing enquiries from Couples who had chosen another venue, but who've re-enquired because their wedding venue has 'chosen to cease trading'.
Bricks and mortar businesses are under attack, both from technological changes that favour internet based businesses and due to increases in property taxes. Business Rates have gone up well above inflation; our business rates have doubled from £20k PA to £40k PA in 2018 alone.
Well known retail chains and pubs are routinely falling by the wayside and more will fail before the end of the year.
Retail and hospitality are highly labour intensive sectors, traditionally reliant on low wages. We are especially vulnerable to Government imposed increases in the NLW (National Living Wage) which are destined to continue (in complete denial of market reality for our sector). I'm all for people earning more but Wages can account for 50% of our turnover, compared with 30% to 35% in other sectors.
Wages going up will only create more inflation, meaning we all have to put our rates up, without losing customers.
VAT at 20% is especially punitive for the hospitality sector. Unlike manufacturing, where VAT is claimed back on raw materials, in the hospitality sector half our turnover or more goes on wages. Unlike materials you buy and sell on, you cannot claim VAT back on wages.
Every country bar one in Europe sets VAT at a reduced rate of 6% to 10% for restaurants and the hospitality trade, in recognition of the lack of VAT reclaimable in our sector, and in recognition of the need to support tourism. Only in Britain do we have VAT at 20% for the hospitality sector.
If you are running an SME, inflation does not feel like it is 2% as claimed. And if you are not in business, just look at petrol and diesel prices. Fuel seems to go up every time you fill up. Heating and lighting are all up.
Employers and Employees now have to contribute a new pensions tax (sorry, 'pensions contributions') as the state passes on the costs of pensions that it used to provide, within National Insurance, to employers and employees. Pensions contributions are inevitably increasing annually, as the Government opts out of state pensions provision. As if we do not pay enough tax as it is, now they want us to pay for pensions as well just because we are all living longer (but we aren't, as of 2018 life expectancy in the UK is dropping - probably due to stress).
Combine the NLW and pensions contributions with VAT at 20% when all Europe has 6-10% for Hospitality, then double Business rates in just one year (absolutely criminal) and once sustainable businesses quickly become unsustainable. The answer is a lot will fail, and those that remain either have to scale up, or increase prices, or a combination of the two.
Actually I would like to know what has gone up by a mere 2%, by the supposed inflation rate. Electricity, Oil, food and beverages, I reckon they've all gone up by around a quarter in the last year or two. Around £100k of extra costs have been added to my business in the last 18 months, so other SME's must all be experiencing something similar.
A business earning 10% profit (I wish) would need to add £500,000 just to add another £50k to the top-line. As my costs have gone up by double that in a year, I'm certainly not able to magic up another £1m, even with all my Marketing Keys.
So let's aim for another £500k of turnover. It's not going to go very far and probably won't be enough, so I could just not bother and retire. Some businesses will just 'opt out' and cease trading. If Corbyn gets in, we WILL be repeating the 1970's, including the three-day week!
A three-day week is not so crazy in our sector. It is often easier to save £1,000 by not opening, than to keep adding £10k blocks of turnover just to cover each £1k of spend. Winter Trading is one approach I've adopted. We close our restaurant 4 days a week, opening only on Thursday, Friday and Saturday - and for Events. It can pay to simply close and turn low cover restaurant trade away (and just do the B&B) on slack winter mid-week days.
We did this last time in 2011 and 2012, and just traded the events. I know of at least one competitor wedding venue doing the same.
Everyone is having to reassess their business model.
But then I read a rather neat book. It had something NEW in it. This brilliant idea has indeed proved brilliant. It won't quite add £500k, but it will contribute another £250k - £350k a year extra within about two years provided the economy does not crash in the meantime.
It is so SIMPLE a marketing tweak that I ponder, "why on earth did I not think of it before?"
Where did I get this new £300k Marketing Key from? A bit of a secret, but I can tell you this: it cost me just £3.50 postage and packaging.
I estimate the ALFUS Marketing Key being launched in 2018 will help generate £300,000 of extra income for my business (yes, turnover is vanity and profit is sanity, but you do need turnover to have a hope of ever making a profit) in 2019/20 and 2020/21. Would you like to know what the idea is?
Well if you are in a business similar to mine the idea is infinitely duplicateable in your service too and will give you instant growth results. You have to like writing to make the idea work though. It took me about 4 weeks concentrated writing to set up the system, but once done, it is auto-pilot marketing.
It's sort of Psychic, like having your sales people follow up your prospective clients at the exact moment they are ready to place an order. Psychic Marketing - the system knows to capture each enquiry at the exact point they are about to make a buying decision.
Here is what this idea has done for me within 4 weeks of launch.
1. Doubled Wedding Sales in the quiet month of June. This is unlikely to be repeated but last June (2017) we booked just 4 weddings, June (2018) we booked 10. 'Bookings' are forward sales.
As summer months are full of weddings, the wedding viewings and forward sales drop as everyone is too busy servicing the existing weddings. August and September sales - every month is increasing. This cannot go on forever as the best dates will sell out.
Summer is normally quiet for wedding sales as Planners have no time to bother with new business or to follow up prospects in the wedding season.
2. Created a new pattern of quality appointments and higher sales that should shift bookings from 110 weddings a year to 135/ 140 a year. We may be able to sustain well above the usual 5 sales a month in the slack summer months (slack for new bookings, that is). We may now maintain 10-15 sales a month, until all the desirable dates are filled.
3. Marketing thought and innovation - high. There has been much thought on this idea, but almost zero marketing cost. It is a system that is copiable by any hotel, pub, or events business, and indeed, by any service business wishing to increase the number of their enquiries making a booking.
4. Marketing cost - a big fat zero, just time to implement - needs a good writer. Someone expert in their own niche, able to talk about what they do, in print, a lot.
Using this new Marketing Strategy, working alongside other marketing keys such as the Decor Key and the Deposit Close, I can with enormous ease, lift any business's sales by at least 10%-20% a year, depending on lead time for sales to become paying orders.
I can now project the increases on next years sales over last years sales at around 15-20% a year in my own business, though I need a few more months to see consistent comparative data over the same period last year.
This is being achieved at little or even NO COST in terms of advertising or marketing spend.
It will require no extra marketing staff (other than staff to see the prospects and sign them up on a contract, as new paying customers). However it will need more staff to service the extra clients (so more wageroll - this is added turnover and with more trade comes more costs).
The ideas I am applying in my business now are working right now, transforming the business. If you do not believe me, just compare the results on these annual weddings bookings counts:
Bookings 2020 year is quite far ahead, forecast to get to 140 booked Ignore the grey shaded dates on the above links, this is a separate small niche service (ghost tours - used for when no big events sold). It is all the coloured dots that show the events and weddings. You can see how these are increasing year on year.
The yellow squares are new sales in the last 14 days. As I write this, 2019 and 2020 years are still accepting bookings. A forecast end result is written for now.
As you can see, the number of booked weddings will have almost doubled between 2017 and 2020.
There was a major marketing tweak in 2017 that caused the first surge in 2018 but I had a problem with wedding guest numbers being too low.
So in 2018 I raised the minimum number of guests for a wedding, which so far has had no effect on sales volume. The increase in 2018 summer sales is due to the new marketing techniques introduced in July 2018.
We have an appointment generating system where customers book their own sales appointments with us. You still need a good team of staff able to convert the appointments the system generates. Appointments are generated automatically and booked by our prospective clients, no cold calling required. You'll still need smiley friendly people to convert them into sales when they visit.
In my business I have identified a number of niche offers and marketing tweaks that combine to add multiple streams of income. There are little and large streams of income.
I have lots of things going wrong in my own SME, don't we all? Yet every time, I am somehow able to magic up some new marketing technique, only to kick myself for not thinking of it before. Many times I have been so humbled by 'nothing seeming to work', that I think, "Whoops", but then along comes a new Marketing Key.
I can honestly say I have lost MILLIONS I could have made, had I been implementing these ideas earlier. Every time I come up with something new, I just think how silly of me not to do it years earlier.
It's a mistake to think you're clever when you (eventually) have a good idea, more sensible to realise you should not have missed the opporunity for so long beforehand.
Do not make the same mistake in your own business. Do not keep missing opportunities. My Marketing Keys will have application to ANY business, as I intend to demonstrate by applying them to another area of our business that has nothing to do with the hotel trade. And I am always looking for more Marketing Keys. You need a whole bunch of Marketing Keys to create multiple streams of income from as many sources as possible. The current niche marketing strategies I am applying to my own business work particularly well and are now proven in the hotel trade. They are so basic and so straightforward, they will work in ANY SME to SOME extent. Even if you merely add 10% to your turnover and profits, that is not a bad result! I am achieving almost a doubling in 4 years, so an average of 20-25% a year increase in business but then I have no choice and nor do you - because like me, you know your costs are just multiplying. We all have to market our business - Marketing is a Necessity, now more than ever - and you need a jolly good return on any more money you put in to marketing your business.
Once you have a working formula, it is duplicatable.
For me, the Castle is enough; it is just too big a project to take on any more like it. I don't really like all the headaches of running a Hotel which would give Basil Fawlty enough material for a lot more than one little series. I'd prefer to act as a Marketing Consultant and inspire other SMEs do the same, a bit like Hotel Inspector, but on the marketing side. The fun of marketing for new business without having the hassle of running the business.
Marketing is my interest, the 'having to run a business' element of it is less appealing to me. I just work on my business (A) to survive and (B) to prove it can be done! Few marketing consultants have the chance to (or would dare to) apply their own theories to their own business to prove what they say, works.
to see how the ideas on this page could be used in your business