6 Ways to Avoid Burnout With Your Motel Business

Motels change hands, on average, every four to five years. Often, it’s not for business reasons. It’s just that the owners are battle weary. They have ‘lost the love’ and need a long extended break.
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Motels change hands, on average, every four to five years. Often, it’s not for business reasons. It’s just that the owners are battle weary. They have ‘lost the love’ and need a long extended break.

Are you in this situation? Is your business underperforming as a result of your lack of positive energy?

Here’s some symptoms that your motel business has worn you down:

  1. You don’t sleep as well as you used to.
  2. Once a bubbly and friendly person, you still are, but only on the surface. Your default mood is…grumpy.
  3. Your relationships are stretched.
  4. You don’t make time for exercise, to read, listen to music, cook, or catch up with friends.
  5. You have stopped implementing new ideas into the business, looking for ways to improve, or seeking feedback from patrons (or worse still, caring!).
  6. Your standards are dropping…you can’t be bothered pestering the cleaners again, so you just let it slip…it’s not that bad.


Motels are a great business. But to be able to deal with people all day long, you have to be switched on and running at 100%. Without the right strategies, it can wear you down.

If you and your motel aren’t maximising your potential, there are some things you can do to get back in control and make the business work for you, on your terms.

Here’s six ideas from successful moteliers we have spoken with:


1. Take Regular Holidays


It’s kind of bizarre that you spend your days helping other people enjoy their holidays. Laughing, lighthearted and recharging, yet you have stopped giving yourself the same privilege.


“Alternating periods of activity and rest is necessary to survive, let alone thrive. Capacity, interest, and mental endurance all wax and wane. Plan accordingly.” 
Tim FerrissThe 4-Hour Work Week


I am sure you can think of some problems with getting away, such as:

Problem: “Who will run the business?” Solution: Get relief management. A basic Google search brings up numerous providers such as or, if you can’t afford professional help, make it your goal to provide intensive training to a family member or friend. Find a solution.


Problem: “We can’t afford it.” Solution: Test your assumptions regarding affordability. Firstly, going on holiday brings you back relaxed, motivated, and inspired. Feeling alive and refreshed will help you make far more money than the cost of the holiday!


Secondly, perhaps reconsider the type of holiday you want. Yes, packaged holidays staying at five-star resorts can be very expensive, but it doesn’t need to be cost-prohibitive.

One of my favourite spots is Koh Lanta in Thailand. There are cheap flights aplenty and then a hut on a long beach costs about $35AUD a night, and beers cost less than $2 each. Search the web, ask friends, and get off the beaten track. Often, this type of getaway is far more fun. For ideas, visit

Being rested and inspired will make you money. But even if I am wrong on that statement, seriously, who cares? Put the numbers aside for a minute. It’s better to make $150k for the year and be happy than $300k living like a miserable asshole.

One of the best ways to create action, which I use regularly is to just book the flights and worry about the rest later! Once you’ve paid for the flights, you will find solutions to whatever ‘problems’ occur regardless if they are imagined or otherwise.


2. Get “Off-Site” Regularly


Too much time in one place drives anyone nuts. Tom Hanks in the movie, Castaway, became best friends with a volleyball. Don’t let that be you! Similar to going on holidays, you must find relief staff who can make it possible for you to take time away from the property, daily, to do all the things you aren’t making time for now.

Once again, if your mind turns to “I can’t afford it,” put energy into finding a solution, which will allow you to afford it. Until you do, you don’t have a sustainable business.


3. Outsource and Reduce Your Minimal Impact Labour


List the things you least like doing. How can they be done by someone else? For example, if you spend all your time and frustration trying to keep up with your monthly accounting requirements, but you love the marketing side of the business, change your focus.

What if instead you paid a bookkeeper $1,000 a month to look after your books and then you spend those saved hours on promoting your business. That could result in the equivalent of five to ten room nights a month that you need to obtain to cover the cost. What if instead of spending your own time doing your accounts, you paid someone so you could promote your business? Could you attract ten more room nights? If so, why are you spending your time working on accounts, or any other task you despise?

Look at the types of technology you are using to run your business. Tools like Xero can save you time on high labour admin tasks.

What part of the business do you love? Devote your time to that. Find ways to get other people to do the stuff you suck at and that exhausts your energy. Then put your time into things that have the highest impact on your well-being and the success of your business.


4. Be Special


It’s boring being average. So many motels are boring. They’re doing everything the same way. What can you do differently to make your motel stand out from the crowd? How can you amaze and excite your customers?

Look for inspiration from those who are out there kicking goals. Australian companies, such as 8 hotels are doing fantastic things - Get inspired by what others are doing well. As Sam Walton, founder of Walmart said, "…most everything I’ve done I’ve copied from somebody else..." You don’t have to re-invent the wheel. Look far and wide for ideas and case studies you can replicate or improve upon.


5. Keep Learning and Growing


“The secret to mastery in any field is to forever be a student.” ~Martin Palmer

The above quote says it all. The fact is we are happiest when we are learning and growing. Take on the spirit of a student and enjoy learning and improving your motel business. Listen to podcasts on the industry, such as and keep growing.


6. Smile


Being rundown and stressed is the short track to burnout. The above six points will help make you a happier person. When we are happy, we attract success.

Success in your motel business is a journey. Try implementing some of the ideas listed here for the next 30 days.

How about starting with booking your next holiday, today? Just do it!

Creating the Hospitality Business of Your Dreams in 30mins/day

We fail because we stop the quest to keep learning. It’s a quest for personal growth. We stop seeing the latest setback as something that can be overcome. We stop being willing to change.
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We fail because we stop the quest to keep learning. It’s a quest for personal growth. We stop seeing the latest setback as something that can be overcome. We stop being willing to change.

Change. It’s a word we all hate. But the hospitality and leisure industries are always changing, especially with technology and online. So, make it your choice to adapt to change or slowly be left behind.

For example, are you ahead of the game with this change?



I have always been fascinated with business success stories. What makes a successful business tick? What’s unique about how they do things? How are they making it work while others around them fail?

I have started more than a dozen businesses, not because I’m awesome, but because initially none of them worked! The main reason they didn’t work was because of me, not the business.

My first serious business started at age 18 with what appeared at the time as a high level and sophisticated finance technique. It involved maxing out a handful of ill-obtained credit cards as my ‘working capital.’ This quickly became ‘unworking capital’ as the business flopped.

I had no coping mechanism to deal with this other than to ignore it, work hard, and get drunk on weekends with schoolmates as a way to relieve stress (funnily this still works!).

I failed repeatedly for almost 10 years before my first success.

When I look back now, the number one thing that helped me make the changes I needed to succeed was…reading!



I had very little money at the time, so I would go to the local library and read motivational books for hours on end. I would enter the library seeing other kids, uni students on the grass in front of the library laughing and looking remarkably happy. I was envious of their lightheartedness and downhearted about my own struggles.

I left the library every time feeling like a warrior, ready for battle, proud and excited about what I was doing.

Such is the power of positive words.

I devoured Tony Robbin’s CD cassette tapes obtained from a friend, continued my reading, sought mentors, and kicked into a different gear. I continued to fail, but each time, I kept learning, kept getting motivated, and stayed in the game. I had discovered other people’s success stories. I saw enough similarities in their stories with mine, and I was convinced it was just a matter of time, and it was.


Are you facing challenges in growing your business? Have you lost some of the motivation you had when you originally started your hospitality business?


The wrong location, wrong staff, wrong menu, wrong room rates, wrong marketing strategy, etc. play a part toward a lack of success, but these are all fixable.

For the next 30 days, I challenge you to spend at least 30 minutes every day, learning. I find the best time to do this is in the morning. Put the phone to flight mode, emails to ‘work offline’ and watch the changes in you that will create positive changes in your business.

Here’s five tips to keep you on track:

  1. Read. What area of your personal life or business is holding you back? Search for books by people who have already overcome the same challenge. (If you don’t have time to read, go to Audible and download a good audio book to listen to while you drive.)
  2. Find a mentor. Do you know someone you would like to emulate? You don’t need to ask them to be your mentor. Just go for a coffee and pick their brain. Most people are happy to help.
  3. Write your goals. Get focused on what you really want and commit it to paper. Review your list of goals regularly.
  4. Create a vision board. My wife has one, and it has a picture of Vegas on it. Guess where I booked flights to the other night?
  5. Listen to podcasts! There are so many great podcasts. Turn off the talk back radio as another disgruntled caller complains about rising gas prices and switch into something powerful. Download the podcast app to your mobile phone. A few suggestions: The Kick Ass Life with David Wood, The Tim Ferris Show, Upside Hospitality & Leisure Business Podcast, Profitable Hospitality Podcast.


These are things I try and do to stay focused. Whenever I deviate (often!), progress seems to halt. But when I get back to these five things, I perform far better and feel better.

The top hospitality business owners I have met already do many of these things daily.

Commit 30 minutes a day every day for the next month, and I would love to hear from you about any great books, podcasts, etc. that you discover.

How to Save $20,000 on your Hospitality Business

Money is a product just like anything else and sometimes the way things are priced doesn’t appear to make any sense.
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Money is a product just like anything else and sometimes the way things are priced doesn’t appear to make any sense.

My local fruit and veg shop sells one avacodo for $3 yet another shop around the corner sells a bag of 8 for $5. Why?

Walk into any 7/11 and a small bottle of coke is only about 50c cheaper than its far taller cousin. Why?


How Sellers Set Prices

Well no doubt the costs involved (transport, packaging etc) form a big part of pricing but not all of it. The biggest factor is that once product providers work out the costs involved they then ask themselves, “How much can we charge and get away with?”

There is generally a tipping point for pricing before consumers say “No, that’s too expensive” and vote with their feet. The trick for most providers is finding the tipping point and edging up to it as close as possible without crossing the line.


How Banks Set Prices


Money is no different. Home loan rates are priced like the big bag of avocados whereas personal loans, overdrafts, credit cards, car finance etc are 50%, 100%… even 500% more expensive. Why?

No doubt there are a lot of factors in play such as risk to the lender, cost of providing the service etc. However, the tipping point on pricing for finance is quite unique to other industries as the lack of competition in Australian banking means our banks are some of the most profitable in the world.

The other reason banks get away with heightened prices is because people are time poor. We rarely sit down to work out what our loans are actually costing us.


A Case Study (saving $20K per year)


I recently helped restructure the finances for an awesome couple that own a small caravan park. Their residential investment property and the park were tied together with their bank. They had a relatively small loan against these properties yet for some reason they had a handful of credit cards, personal loans, overdraft and leasing products used to fund the growth of their business.

Had they accessed the equity in their properties they could have borrowed all the funds they needed at a very low price, but due to not getting the structure right, they are doing the equivalent of walking to 8 different fruit and veg shops and buying a single avocado! Their cash flow, profitability and stress levels have suffered as a result.

The restructure will save this small business about $20,000 per year. For their business that is the equivalent of about 250 overnight bookings a year.
If I was to walk into reception and tell the park owner that I was going to take the income from his next 250 bookings he would probably chase me out with a baseball bat. So why isn’t the same focus applied to getting the cost of your loans down and the structure right?

In many situations, especially when you have minimal equity, overdrafts, credit cards, cashflow lending etc with banks can be great tools to help you grow your business. However, if you have a lot of equity in your properties and are paying high rates on numerous small loans there is every chance you are being a great contributor to the wealth of a bank instead of yourself and your family.

Reviewing your structure might also help with asset protection, renewal risk, compliance costs and a bunch of other things that contribute to you business’ profitability.

Perhaps reach out to your accountant or a specialist to ensure you have your debts structured in a way that works best for you, not your bank.


Listen to our Mortgage Health Check Podcast.


3 Steps to Getting a Hospitality/Leisure Mortgage Loan Approved

I get a call a dozen times a week from an aspiring purchaser of a motel, pub, club, restaurant, golf course etc . The main question I field is, “I want to buy ---- . What do I need to get a mortgage?”
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I get a call a dozen times a week from an aspiring purchaser of a motel, pub, club, restaurant, golf course...

The main question I field is, “I want to buy ---- . What do I need to get a mortgage?”

Well, in a nutshell, you need three things:


1. Sufficient Equity


A lender will only loan up to a certain amount on any hospitality or leisure property or business if all the borrower has as security is that property or business. This amount predominantly depends on the type of property or business being purchased. This ratio is commonly called the Loan to Value Ratio (LVR).

For example, when buying a motel a bank will typically lend up to a 70% LVR. That means, if the purchase price is $1M, the bank will lend $700K. For a pub business (excluding the property) however, banks are usually prepared to lend up to 50%.

Whatever you can’t get from the bank (as debt) you need to have as a deposit via cash or equity in another property. Some quick math around these figures will let you know if you have a sufficient deposit to buy the hospitality or leisure property or business you want.

If you can pull together this deposit then you are a third of the way there.


2. Sufficient Income


As you can imagine, lenders are only willing to lend to borrowers who can afford to make their repayments.  

When you apply for a loan, lenders determine what your annual repayments would be and compare these against any other borrowings you would have after the loan is advanced. They then add up the income from the business/property you are buying and any other ongoing income you can prove.

As a simple guide, in order to be approved, your income going forward should be approximately 1.5 times your expenses. That means for every $1.50 of income you earn, you spend $1.00 or less on expenses. If you can prove this then in my experience, 9 times out of 10, you are two-thirds the way there.


3. A Positive Track Record


From the day any Australian citizen starts a credit account, such as a phone bill, utility account, credit cards etc, we start accumulating a credit file. Lenders can access this when you apply for credit. You can get a copy of yours by visiting sites like

If you have a default or multiple defaults on this record it can make obtaining credit harder.

Lenders will also look at your loan/mortgage statements, bank statements etc to confirm that you have a positive track record.

The other factor that weighs in as far as your track record goes is your hospitality/leisure experience. Depending on the situation and what type of business you are buying, some lenders may require you to demonstrate that you have sufficient experience to successfully operate the business you hope to buy.

For example, if you are buying a large pub with 30 staff and have never poured a beer in your life then you will typically need to either have a larger deposit or prove to the lender how you will mitigate this risk eg. hiring a manager etc.


To find out more, take a listen to our podcast.


How to Value a Freehold Going Concern Motel

When looking through listings, it is important to remember that the listed prices are solely the price the vendor or agent hopes to get so there is room for negotiation.
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What is a Freehold Going Concern Motel?


Buying a Freehold Going Concern (FHCG) motel means you are buying both the property (Freehold) and the motel business that trades at the property (Going Concern). So, how do you establish the value of a FHGC and the price you are willing to pay?

First, let’s consider the market value. The International Valuation Standards Council International Valuation Glossary defines market value as:

“The estimated amount for which an asset or liability should exchange on the date of valuation between a willing buyer and a willing seller in an arm’s length transaction after proper marketing wherein the parties had each acted knowledgeably, prudently, and without compulsion.”

The most interesting line from the above is, “Wherein the parties had each acted knowledgeably, prudently, and without compulsion”. The fact is, as the excitement of buying a FHGC motel kicks in, this compulsion to not miss out can often lead to the buyer paying too much.


What to Look For When Purchasing a Motel?


Most often these days, the search for a FHGC motel starts online. When looking through listings, it is important to remember that the listed prices are solely the price the vendor or agent hopes to get so there is room for negotiation.

So how do you determine what you should pay? The fact is, if you ask 10 different people you may well get 10 different answers. It is not black and white when it comes to determining a fair price.

Some people go more for gut feeling. Others are strict number crunchers and make every decision on dollars and cents. In my opinion, somewhere in the middle is good ground. It is crucial however to carry out your own in-depth research as well as getting independent advice from an accountant or specialist valuer.

The method I find most useful, especially as a starting point, is to split up what the business and property would be worth if purchased separately.

To establish what the property component is worth, ask yourself, “If I didn’t own the business what would the property be worth?” And vice versa.


Valuing a Motel’s Property


A good guide in determining this is to figure out what the market rental for the property be? For a leasehold motel for example, the rental should be about 25% of turnover. So if you are looking at a FHGC motel, multiply the turnover by 25% to determine the likely market rental for the property.

Eg. If the turnover is $400,000 then approx. $100,000 ($400K x 25%) is the rental the property could generate if you bought the FHGC and decided not to operate the business.

If instead, I purchased the above property for $1,000,000 and it had an annual potential market rental of $100,000, my return (if I leased it out) would be 10%. This return is called a capitalisiation rate (cap rate).

Once you work out what the annual market rental is, you can call local agents, valuers, research comparable sales etc to determine average capitalisiation rates for the area you are buying into. That way you know roughly what the property component is worth.


Valuing a Motel’s Business


Based on the above example, assuming the location has a 10% capilisation rate, the property component is worth approx. $1,000,000. So what would the business be worth?

With a FHGC you need to look at the purchase of the business component as if that is all you were buying and the vendor was charging market rates for rent.

To do this, obtain the most recent Financial Year Profit & Loss statement for the FHGC you are looking at buying. Add-back to the net profit any interest/rent, depreciation and wages (drawn by owner). As well as any other genuine addbacks and this will give you a net profit after addbacks figure.

Deduct from this figure the market rental if you only owned the business but had to pay rent at market rates. This figure is the profit someone could make if they bought only the business component from you and you charged them market rent. (Depending on location, lease term etc buyers will typically pay a ratio of 3 – 4 times this figure for the business)

Let’s say turnover is $400,000 and net profit after addbacks is $240,000. If you deduct the rent you would need to pay ($100,000) from the net profit, you could earn $140,000.

So someone (pending location, lease etc) would pay 3 – 4 times this ($420,000 to $560,000) for the business. You will need to call local agents, valuers, your accountant, industry specialists to determine a fair market multiple for the location/business circumstance but you get a rough guide.


Determining a Motel’s Market Value


The combination of this figure, let’s say $420,000 at a 3 x multiple, and the $1,000,000 we established as the property value above results in an indicative FHGC valuation of $1,420,000 which gives you a good guide as to what the FHGC valuation should be.

Working out the capilisation rate to adopt, ratio/multiple on the leasehold, rental etc comes down to doing a lot of research and ultimately this is what valuers do when valuing a freehold going concern.

Other factors such as the condition of the building, underlying land value etc also come into play but the above gives you a good starting point to understanding how to value a property. Most importantly, however, get advice from an accountant experienced in motel freehold going concerns.

A good place to end is a quote from the world’s greatest investor, Warren Buffet.


“Price is what you pay; value is what you get”


Why Not to Trust the Vendor’s Word When Purchasing a Hospitality Venue

I often speak with people purchasing pubs, motels and other such hospitality businesses. In most cases, the person I am speaking with is about to put down a large part, if not all, of their life's savings
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Your Options When Purchasing


I often speak with people purchasing pubs, motels and other such hospitality businesses. In most cases, the person I am speaking with is about to put down a large part, if not all, of their life’s savings either through equity built up in their home or cash. When I ask them about the business, which shows little to no profit, they say, "Yeah, but the owner doesn’t show everything through his books to keep tax down so really he is making X"

“Righteo then…” I say.

“You have two options here. Option one. You roll the dice and hope the owner’s not full of bull sh*t. But if you’re going to do that you may as well have some fun with it. Go to Crown Casino, book out the penthouse suite, rent the luxury car you have always wanted, spend a week mingling with high-rollers in the Oaks room and take a good week or so blowing your cash in style. At least you’ll create some fun memories and can contribute to Jimmy Packers bank balance… he needs the support.”

[I try to say it as respectfully as possible, of course]

“That’s option one. Option two is WAKE UP! What if the vendor is playing ‘two for me, one for you’ with the taxman? Or, often closer to the point, chances are the claim is overstated and certainly not worth you risking your hard earned equity on.


What You Need From the Vendor


In my opinion, you should only ever pay for what can be verified on paper. When you buy a hospitality and leisure business, question all claims of income, expenses or profit made by the vendor or vendor agent. Ask yourself, would this claim stand up in trial?

Imagine you’re in court and you turn to the jury. “I bring to your attention recent Bank Statements, 12 months BAS statements, Tax Returns and 3 Years Financial Statements prepared by the defendant’s accountant. All clearly show the defendant (vendor) has earnt this income.” Now we are talking. As opposed to, “Ah, you see I had a coffee with the agent and I swear he told me it was doing $60,000 a month. He said that. I swear he did.” The penalty for the later approach… death by hospitality.


Why Clients Make Mistakes When Purchasing


I expect that many people don’t request the necessary information for a few reasons:

  1. Emotions get in the way. We are predominantly visual creatures. If something looks great… we want it! We can imagine our friends, families etc loving it. We picture ourselves quitting our job, living the dream and the emotional hook is too much to resist.
  2. We don’t know what to ask for.
  3. We don’t know if it is OK to ask for such things.
  4. Fear of missing that mythical ‘once in a lifetime’ opportunity.


I admire the clients I have worked with who deep into the purchase process – and already having invested time and money on a valuation, accounting fees etc – were completely willing to walk away if their due diligence didn’t check out. It’s probably no coincidence that they are the same people who seem to be more successful in their business.

The point is, good advice from accountants, lawyers, financial planners and industry specialists in the early stages of the purchase process often goes a long way.  

If you have ever seen the classic Australian movie Chopper starring Eric Bana (great movie, if you get nothing else from this blog, watch it!) you will recall the hilarious scene where Chopper rolls into Neville Bartos’ House. Neville in a state of panic repeatedly says “Cash? No cash here. Here? No cash here.” Remember those words and consider ignoring any claims made when determining what price to pay for a hospitality & leisure business. 


The Loan Process 101 (Video)

A 4-minute crash course on the 10 steps involved in obtaining a typical commercial loan.
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Credit Rating Crash Course (Video)

A 3-minute crash course on how to find out if your credit rating is good enough to qualify for a commercial loan.
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What You Need to Obtain a Loan (Video)

A 3-minute crash course on what you need to obtain a commercial loan so that you can purchase your own hospitality or leisure property.
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Principal & Interest vs Interest Only (Video)

A 2-minute crash course on the difference between Principal & Interest and Interest Only Loans.
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Valuations Crash Course (Video)

A 2-minute crash course explaining what valuations are, why you need one and how long they typically take.
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5 Tips When Buying a Pub

Thinking about buying your own Pub? Here are 5 tips to help the whole process run smoothly.
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Thinking about buying your own Pub? Here are 5 tips to help the whole process run smoothly.


1) Get a mentor

Finding a mentor who has successfully started their own pub and is willing to offer you ongoing advice is one of the simplest ways to prove to a lender that you are focused on the success of your business. This helps when filing an application for finance. Loans aside though, a mentor is a great resource to field all of your questions. They also provide you with an opportunity to learn from their mistakes as well as your own. If you don't have someone happy to let you shadow them (and open enough to let you call them in the middle of the night) it may prove worthwhile joining an organisation like AHA so that you can build up relationships with other pub owners and managers.


2) Prove your experience

Whilst having a mentor helps when purchasing your first pub, it is also important that you have at least a little of your own experience to begin with. The first reason why this is important is that lenders are often unwilling to provide a loan to someone who doesn't have experience in or around pubs. Generally a lender likes to see that the borrower has at least 3 years experience. Secondly, pubs, like most hospitality venues, either flourish or fail and history proves that the chance of success is often directly linked with experience. As a pub owner you are going to have to roll up your sleeves at some point or another and, if you don't know how to take care of the little things, there is a good chance you are going to get in the way of your own success. The easiest way to prove this experience is through a detailed resume that highlights your work history and completed courses/certificates, and a business plan that illustrates your ability to determine cash flow forecasts and place in the market. 


3) Submit your loan application right the first time

In order to qualify for finance, you will need to prove to the prospective lender that you have sufficient equity and income to service the proposed pub loan.

How do I determine if I have sufficient equity and sufficient income?

Whilst this is the chief requirement, there are a number of other things that can help get your lender onside. These include: 

  • Business Plan – outlining cash flow forecasts, market competition and your business model
  • Resume - highlighting your experience working in and around pubs and listing 2 or 3 quality references
  • Credit History - proven history and detailed explanations of how you resolved any credit history issues
  • Bank Statements - yours and any other person who is to be involved in the purchase of the pub
  • Pay Slips - yours and any other person who is to be involved in the purchase of the pub

It is worth noting that it is important to submit your tender right the first time as lenders will often be quick to reject resubmissions. A specialist mortgage broker can help ensure that you present the most ideal submission to the lender the first time round. 


4) Don't rush

When you're looking to buy a good pub, the last thing you want to be in is a rush. It can often take months to find the right venue for the right price and due diligence (the detailed examination of potential purchase) often takes several weeks. Rushing due diligence is extremely risky as without a proper examination of the purchase you can easily be hit with expensive surprises further down the road. For all you know, the pub you are looking to purchase might not have a license to serve more than 100 people even though you could easily fit 300 in the space. Licenses are just the tip of the iceberg. You will also need to find out who the venue's current suppliers are, the business' financial history, details on all current contracts, employee records, assets, liabilities, lease agreements, equipment lists, council obligations... etc. In addition to due diligence, you will need to schedule time for organising your submission for finance and finding the right lender. If the lender gives the all clear it is also worth noting that it will only be 'subject to valuation', which can also take a number of days/weeks.


5) Get financial & legal advice

You don’t want to hear it, I know. Unfortunately, however, it is absolutely crucial. You don’t want to hear it because it sounds expensive but the reality is most initial consultations are free and the information an accountant, financial advisor and lawyer provide can often save you a lot of money down the track. An accountant can help you find tax breaks and set up your entity structure so that it is the most profitable for your situation. A lawyer can protect you from binding agreements and legal clauses often tied to purchases. All parties can help you make sense of your obligations as a business owner. 


For more tips, take a listen to our Podcast


And, grab a FREE copy of our consumer guide



How to Finance a Hospitality Venue

In order to obtain a loan to purchase a hospitality venue you must have sufficient equity and sufficient income.
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Sufficient Equity

In order to obtain a loan to purchase a hospitality venue you first must have sufficient equity to fund the difference between the purchase price (plus costs) and the amount that you can borrow. A lender will only lend so much against any security (property or business) on a stand-alone basis. This ratio is referred to as the loan-to-value-ratio (LVR).

Example: If a lender lends $6 on a property valued at $10 then that’s a 60% LVR.


Funding the Shortfall?

Let’s assume a lender is willing to lend 60% of the purchase price. How do you make up the shortfall? There are two ways:
1) Equity: make up the difference with money from your savings, a gift, proceeds from the sale of a property etc.
2) Debt: if you don’t have enough cash to fund the deposit then you may have lendable equity in another property such as your home or an investment.

Example: The purchase price of a caravan park is $10. The lender offers a 60% LVR ($6). Thus, you need $4 plus purchase costs (stamp duty etc) to buy the caravan park. Let’s assume that your home/investment property is worth $10 and has an existing loan of $3. Let’s also assume that the maximum LVR on a house without lender’s mortgage insurance is 80% ($8). A solution to gain the approximate $4 shortfall for the caravan park would be to refinance your home loan. So you would add the $4 shortfall to your existing home loan of $3. You now have a $7 home loan (70% LVR) and the funds required to purchase the caravan park.


Sufficient Income

Let’s say you have sufficient equity to contribute to the purchase of your hospitality venue. We now need to show the lender that you have (or will have) sufficient income to cover your current and proposed loans/liabilities. As a general rule, a lender will total up your current loan commitments with the proposed loan repayments and add an allowance for living costs, and then compare this against your income. In most cases, a borrower must have at least 1.5 to 2 times the amount of income to proposed interest expenses. This is referred to as a ‘serviceability ratio’.

• You are buying a caravan park for $1,000,000
• You require a $600,000 loan to make the purchase
• The caravan park has a net profit (after addbacks) of $130,000 pa
• You are currently earning $80,000 pa (but you are quitting to run the caravan park)
• Your partner earns $70,000 pa (and will keep working)
• The only other loan you have is an investment property for $500,000 at 6% (rental income is $15,000 pa)
• Your living expenses are estimated at $20,000 pa

Based on the above example, on an interest only basis, a lender is likely to look at the figures like this:


Caravan park net profit = $130,000 pa (net profit + allowable addbacks)
Personal income  = $0 (as you will no longer be working)
Partner’s income = $70,000 (if they have a beneficial interest in the purchase)
Investment property income = $12,000 (lenders typically use 80% of gross rent)
Total = $130,000 + $70,000 + $12,000 = $212,000

Living expenses = $20,000 (each lender has their own calculator for estimating costs)
Investment property loan = $40,000 (stressed at 8%)
Proposed loan = 48,000 (stressed at 8% interest only*)
*some lenders use principal and interest payments
Total = $20,000 + $40,000 + $48,000 = $108,000

Serviceability Ratio = Income / Expenses = 212,000/108,000 = 1.96

(Depending on the LVR and other factors, this scenario would potentially be fundable as it is above the minimum ratio of 1.5 times)


Home Loan vs Hospitality Venue Loan

If you have ever purchased a home or residential investment property, you may be aware that lenders will lend as much as a 95% LVR. This is because residential loans typically require borrowers to purchase mortgage insurance on loans greater than a 80% LVR. Mortgage insurance isn’t available on commercial properties, thus, lenders typically don’t lend more than a 75% LVR on such properties. This reduces even further when it comes to specialised properties like h. This is mainly to do with the fact that hospitality businesses operate within a more limited market of buyers and are faster to be affected by poor management than standard properties, as such, they have a higher potential risk, so lenders typically lend to a more conservative LVR.


To find out more, take a listen to our podcast.

Clubs & Pubs Manager Magazine Feature

Upside Director, Jon Plowright, discusses what attracted him to hospitality & leisure finance and his thoughts on the future ahead.
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Click to view.


Running a Successful Café

Adam Humphrey reveals the secrets to his Sydney cafe's success. How do restaurants compare?
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Adam Humphrey reveals the secret to his cafe's successAccording to Adam Humphrey of Restaurant Arras and Arras Too, at last count Sydney city’s Clarence Street had a total of 27 cafes – so how does he stay ahead of the pack? 

For starters, he and his wife Lovaine make everything on site, from fresh bread and pastries through to traditional English fare.

“We make everything for our cafe, we are in at between 4.30 and five every morning and bake all our own bread, croissants and pain au chocolat, and we change our muffins every day.”

“We also do things that come from Britain like scotch eggs and pork pies, so we get a lot of English office workers coming in,” Humphrey says.

Customers don’t order from a menu as such, and when food is sold out its sold out, however they can request specific items for the following day.

“The customers will tell you what they want, which we find quite liberating – we want to keep it interesting for our guests and make them effectively what they want.

“You know your food is going to get sold because people have actually said ‘can we have this tomorrow?’ and that’s probably what sets us apart a little bit,” he explains.

There is a formula behind the menu at Arras Too, one that is marked by both consistency and change. “It’s a case of keeping a core group of things that are good and then introducing new things off the back of that.”

Cafes vs. restaurants

Humphrey believes the street’s remaining 26 cafes' ability to survive amidst such a competitive environment is testament to the city’s strong cafe scene.  

“It’s a sign of how the cafe scene in Sydney is in terms of the amount of cafes on the street that are thriving and doing really good business.

“I’ve always said the Sydney cafe scene is without a doubt probably one of the best in the world, and I really, really like being a part of that,” he says.

Humphrey is also of the belief that people are creatures of comfort, and will return opt to the same venue again and again.

“They have a favourite coffee that they like to drink from their favourite cafe, or a favourite sandwich that a particular cafe does. Very rarely do you get somebody defecting to another cafe, it’s quite interesting.”

Cafes are more likely to survive when competition is high as opposed to restaurants, because they are both more affordable to run and offer food that is more affordable and convenient. 

“If you put 27 restaurants down the same street you’d see a good deal of them dropping off because they just can’t sustain that sort of competition, whereas cafes run a lot leaner than restaurants so it’s simple that they can survive and there’s enough people to want their product,” Humphrey explains.

“The ingredients are more affordable, you don’t have any of the trappings of a big fit out and with all respect to the cafe workers you don’t need a trained chef with more than 20 years experience to cook cafe food.”

Greater consistency

Since it opened three years ago Arras Too has built up a strong customer base, and Humphrey has noticed the same people tend to come in at the same time each day.

“It’s got to a point where it’s just really, really consistent in terms of we pretty much take the same money every day, unless we’re doing outside catering which is another big part of what we do, or school holidays then that affects it slightly,” he says.

“The same people come in everyday and effectively buy the same things, so that stands to reason that you are pretty much going to take the same money each day.”

A complementary business model

Restaurant Arras and Arras Two operate in tandem, and Humphrey says this allows them to test the waters as to what works and what doesn’t.

“Sometimes we introduce things that have been well received in the restaurant to the cafe, but in a more casual way.

“Our sort of food is always quirky and a little bit fun anyway so we think to a degree it transcends styles." 

Arras is a business that operates as a one-stop shop, capable of catering to the food and beverage needs of all its customers. 

“When somebody goes to eat in the restaurant they know they can get a coffee in the cafe next door afterwards, and others might come to the cafe in the morning and tell us they are going to come for some lunch in the restaurant later."

All images: Restaurant Arras website

12 November, 2013

Article reposted from Hospitality Magazine.

Australian Restaurant Industry Trends

Is the restaurant industry making a comeback? How dependent are diners on smartphones when conducting research and bookings?
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Trends in Australia's restaurant industry The Dimmi Australian Dining Index 2013 has found the restaurant industry is slowly making a comeback, and diners are opting to research and book restaurants using their smartphones.

The industry has experienced a national growth of 3.17 percent in the 2013/13 financial year, however the average spend has dropped to $54 per head.

The ACT experienced the highest growth at 10.8 percent, New South Wales enjoyed a 6.3 percent increase and South Australia's restaurant industry grew by 4.7 percent. 

In Victoria, the industry did not fare so well, declining by 0.4 percent.


The report uncovered online restaurant bookings have increased by 564 percent since 2011, as Australians choose to conduct their own research rather than seek the advice of their friends and family members.

They are reading user generated restaurant reviews on websites such as Urbanspoon and taking a look at a venue's online presence - whether that be its website or social media pages. 

"The way that customers search and book restaurants has transformed. In the past we would ask a friend for a recommendation, today we simply ask Google," said Dimmi CEO, Stevan Premutico.

In addition, 189 million restaurant related searches have been conducted online in the last year, and 63 percent of the people who use this search term don’t necessarily know where they want to dine, they are seeking inspiration and recommendations about where to go.

“We created the Dimmi Booking Network specifically to allow our restaurant partners to convert these lookers into bookers.

“[It] effectively connects every major restaurant search portal in Australia to allow diners to search and book restaurants easier than ever before," Premutico added. 


The report found Tuesdays is the  most popular day to book a restaurant and Friday and Saturdays are the busiest days to dine. 

Unfortunately, lunch is still a struggling mealtime, experiencing a decline of -0.04 percent. "Lunch remains the Achilles heel of the industry and goes to the heart of a restaurant's ability to boost its profitability," Premutico said. 

"Restaurants can't be sustainable if they are empty at lunch. We need to fight together to get Australians back to lunch." 

Forty-three percent of people make a booking when restaurants are at their busiest, meanwhile 23 percent book between 9am and 12pm, 22 percent book between 3pm and 6pm and 12 percent of people lodge a booking when restaurants are closed.


A total of 33 percent of all bookings, which equates to $2.6 billion, are made with mobile devices and/or apps on phones, a trend that points to Australians preference for more convenient booking options.

Thirty-percent of smartphone bookings are made for same day dining, as opposed to 23 percent for PC bookings, and the practice is being embraced by Victorians and South Australians in particular. 

The report saw Dimmi gather data from the 12/13 financial year across over 2500 restaurants, five million bookings and 250, 000 reviews.

25 October, 2013

Article reposted from Hospitality Magazine.

Q&A: De Bortoli Winemaker

We sat down with Steve Webber from De Bortoli, Yarra Valley, to get some insight into a day in the life of a modern day winemaker.
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We sat down with Steve Webber from De Bortoli, Yarra Valley, to get some insight into a day in the life of a modern day winemaker.

Talking trends and challenges with De Bortoli winemaker: Q&ACan you please give us the brief history of your career?

  • Cellarhand at Leo Buring in 1978-1989
  • Studied for Roseworthy B. Sc. Oenology 1980 to 1982
  • Winemaker at Lindemans in Mildura and Coonawarra from 1983 to 1989
  • Winemaker at De Bortoli Yarra Valley from May, 1989 -

What’s a typical day for you?
6.30 – 7.00 am start. Coffee in lunch room with staff. Mainly office work, blending, tasting and promoting these days. Glass of wine at 5pm. Crazy hours during the harvest, getting hands dirty and playing on the forklift.

What training/education did you undertake for your role?
A degree in Winemaking, as well as  tasting and enjoying piles of wine, lots of of wine travels and chatting with other vignerons.

What would you say is the biggest daily challenge you face in your job?
Making better wine for less cost so that we can meet the markets' price expectation.

What do you think is the biggest challenge facing the wine industry today?
Interesting and delicious wine with terroir at an affordable price.

What’s the piece of technology or equipment that you find indispensable in your work?
Destemmer – needs to be gentle and effective. Some berry sorting on the end of it wouldn't be bad but we don't have one so we rely on human bunch sorting at this stage.

What’s an exciting project you’re working on at the moment?
Making and getting consumers to drink lighter beautiful, aromatic and graceful red wine.

What do you think will be the next big trends in wine in Australia?
Probably more Sauvignon Blanc but hoping for Pinot Grigio, Sangiovese and of course fine Chardonnay.

What are some of the biggest opportunities for Australia’s winemakers at the moment?
Some markets are enjoying the fine subtle wine from Australia's cool regions so hopefully this phenomenon is an opportunity.

Where do you see the industry in 10 years time?
I am not holding my breath, but with some luck a vibrant, interesting, multi faceted retail market, and hopefully not dominated by too fewer players.

What advice would you give to a young winemaker just starting in the industry?
Drink broadly, take real interest in what you are drinking and work and travel overseas.

23 October, 2013

Article reposted from Hospitality Magazine.



Patrons Prefer Small Bars Owned by Bartenders

Is there a bar revolution going on, not just in Sydney but Melbourne, Brisbane and Perth, too?
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Patrons prefer small bars owned by bartendersTim Philips, one third of Sydney bar Bulletin Place's founding fathers, believes there is a bit of a bar revolution going on, not just in Sydney but Melbourne, Brisbane and Perth, too.

“Rather than just throw their money into the big hotel groups, people want value for money and to get served by someone that actually cares about what they are doing - I think they are getting a bit wiser with their drinking dollar,” he says.

He previously worked as a bartender at Merivale's Hemmesphere, and is an advocate of small bars run by bartenders as opposed to big hospitality groups that operate multiple different venues.

“There are bigger bar groups out there that definitely look after their staff - I have a lot of great friends that work for The Keystone Group for example, and they have a really good reputation for that, but that doesn’t really apply to all the big guys.

“If you are a bartender out there and your employer is not looking after you, and you feel like you are being taken advantage of there are businesses all around the country now that won’t put up with that. They are owned and operated by bartenders themselves that know how to look out for one another.”

It seems Bulletin Place, which he founded with fellow industry veterans Adi Ruiz, previously of top Melbourne bars Ginger and Seamstress Sweatshop and ex-Reserve brand ambassador Robb Sloan, embodies these ideals - it is small in size and run by three bartenders who are incredibly passionate about what they do.


Despite only opening last November, the bar has won a slew of awards, including Cocktail Bar of the Year at the Australian Bar Awards in September, and it has just recently been ranked number 26 in the World’s 50 Best Bars list for 2013.

While the team is no doubt chuffed to receive such prestigious awards Philips is quick to note its business as usual at Bulletin Place.

“We have been fortunate enough to win Cocktail Bar of the Year and that is a massive pat on the back, but I don’t think any of us feel like we are anywhere near the best we can be.

"The next six months will see us really try to reinforce the standards at Bulletin Place, to lift our game and just get better and better," he says. 

While international recognition is a plus for Bulletin Place, Philip's believes it is great for Australia's bar industry as a whole.

“On an international scale it’s nice to have that exposure and also really amazing to see so many Australian bars represented - it’s not just a pat on the back for us but a pat on the back for the Australian bar industry." 

“We wanted to open a place where we weren’t being told what to do or what to make, where we could focus on making quality drinks on a small scale,” says Philips.


The bar itself seats 45-people, and while small bars have proven incredibly popular of late, he explains budget very much dictated the size of the venue.

“Because we are self-funded we had a certain budget to work with, so we could only really afford to do a small space initially.”

Part of Bulletin Place’s success no doubt comes down to its cocktail offering, which showcases the nation’s bountiful supply of fresh produce.  

“We try to keep the cocktail list really simple and really fresh - cocktails are inspired by what we pick up from the markets each morning, so there is very much a local, seasonal vibe going on with the list. 

“They are almost a way of us celebrating the biodiversity in Australia, we try to make really good use of what is on our doorstop,” he says.

“We unashamedly have fruity drinks but at the same time we like to showcase the booze and make sure they are really punchy and direct but with a seasonal twist.”

The cocktail list changes daily and the team can whip up a unique or classic concoction on request, meanwhile the bar’s wine and beer lists change on a regular basis.

“Our wine list changes every month and we change our beers every week - it is all very dependent on what the weather is doing, what we are drinking at the time and what we feel like selling.

“Having that ever-changing approach means we can move with the seasons really easily,” Philips says. 

14 October, 2013

Article reposted from Hospitality Magazine.

Tripadvisor Reveals Latest Industry Trends

Tripadvisor releases the results of the world's largest accommodation and travellers survey, the TripBarometer.
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Tripadvisor reveals latest industry trends

Travel site, Tripadvisor, has released the results of the world's largest accommodation and travellers survey, the TripBarometer.

The survey reveals leading trends in the travel and hospitality industries, according to more than 19,000 travellers and over 10,000 accommodation business owners around the world.

Conducted twice a year, the survey results are analysed independently by research firm Edelman Berland.

According to Julio Bruno, global VP of sales, TripAdvisor for business, travellers around the world are getting itchy feet, and Australian hospitality businesses are expected to reap the benefits.

"If the travel plans of Australians and travellers worldwide are a guide to the economic future, then 2015 looks like it could be a prosperous year for the international inbound tourism markets," he said.

"In 2014, travellers from every region worldwide plan to travel mostly within their home market. In 2015, travellers in almost all regions plan to spread their wings to international destinations. Australian hoteliers and the Australian tourism industry stand to be a big beneficiary because significantly more travellers from major regions plan to visit Australasia in 2015."

The survey also found that:

  • 62 percent of Australian hoteliers are optimistic about profitability in 2014
  • More than one-third of Australians (37 percent) are planning on increasing their travel spend in 2014
  • 57 percent of Australian hoteliers plan to raise room rates in 2014, a 24 percent increase on 2013
  • Eight percent of Australian hoteliers plan to open a new property in 2014, with Australasia seeing the most development

13 September, 2013

Article reposted from Hospitality Magazine.


Leading Hotel School Returns to Australia

Cornell University returns to Australia to offer a school development program for Australian hotel executives in May 2014.
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Leading hotel school comes back to Australia after 25 years

For the first time in 25 years, the Cornell University School of Hotel Administration will return to Australia to offer its summer school development program for Australian hotel executives in May 2014.

Tourism Accommodation Australia, TAA, in partnership with Tourism Training Australia, TTA, finalised the plans for Cornell to launch its Senior Executive Development  Program and Food and Beverage Executive Development Programs from 26 to 29 May 2014 in Sydney.

Rodger Powell, managing director, TAA said that bringing the Cornell Hotel School would bring global perspective to the hotel industry’s most pressing issues.

“A great deal has been said in recent years about the need to elevate the skills base of the Australian hospitality industry, and Cornell has both the attributes and the track record to deliver an exceptional experience for hotel executives,” Powell said.

In a format based on lectures, case studies and problem sets, the Senior Executive Development Program will focus on the application of financial management concepts that are valuable in analysing hospitality operations. There will be a strong emphasis how general managers can communicate and interpret financial data as a means to deal more effectively with the business. 

The Food and Beverage Executive Development Program is designed for the food and beverage or restaurant manager seeking to gain a competitive advantage for his or her business. The course will develop abilities to identify and integrate trends in the industry, using operations based marketing, sales promotion, creating customer value through staff training and motivation strategies, menu development, forecasting, budgeting, labour scheduling and food production.

“Both courses are practical and will be overseen by the industry’s leading trainer, Tourism Training Australia,” Powell said. “Bill Galvin, OAM, of TTA was involved in the first Cornell Hotel School visit to Australia, and said that the alumni of 1988 went on to become the industry’s leaders, so he believes that the 2014 school will have a similar influence on delegates attending.”

29 August, 2013

Article reposted from Hospitality Magazine.

Staff Turnover Troubles?

Attracting the right talent, retaining staff and reducing employee churn go to the heart of business profitability.
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Staff turnover troubles? Four ways to become an employer of choiceGetting recruitment right is one of the key challenges facing the hospitality industry. Attracting the right talent, retaining staff and reducing employee churn go to the heart of business profitability. 

The hospitality industry has one of the highest rates of employee turnover across the board. According to a recent study by Griffith University, Australian hotels on average lose over half of their employees each year. This is three times the rate of most industries.

The cost of employee turnover is substantial. On average the cost of replacing employees for the average hotel is $770,000. This equates to $49 million a year industry-wide.

Organisations need great talent who work smarter and more productively and who are engaged and motivated to meet growth goals. Once an organisation attracts these employees they need to do everything they can to keep them.

One of the best ways to attract and retain great talent for longer is to become an employer of choice.

What does it mean to be an employer of choice?
An employer of choice is an organisation which offers a sought-after work environment. Through becoming a desirable place to work, these organisations keep current staff engaged and happy, and attract new employees.

Becoming an employer of choice doesn’t happen by accident. While it seems obvious that all organisations should aspire to be a desirable place to work, the unfortunate reality is that most do not make this a priority or take enough action to become an enviable workplace.

There are a number of factors which contribute to an organisation being an employer of choice. Tangible actions such as remuneration and flexibility with working arrangements all play a role.  However it is also the less tangible actions like company culture, work environment and support which often make the real difference.

Employers of choice tend to do the following things well:

  • Create an engaging company culture
  • Recognise and reward staff
  • Invest in learning and development
  • Operate ethically and fairly, and celebrate diversity
  • Encourage work-life balance
  • Offer inspiring and engaging leadership

These are the elements which drive employee engagement, retain staff for longer and attract new staff.

What can organisations do to become an employer of choice?
To become an employer of choice, organisations need to start by making a commitment to change.

Make the desirability of your workplace a top priority. Include this in your business objectives, vision, key messages and purpose.

It is essential these changes are grounded in a genuine commitment to improvement. Any tokenistic changes will be unsuccessful and can actually cause greater damage.

Here are four key areas to focus on to become an employer of choice:

1. Create an engaging company culture
A business’ culture is at the core of the employee experience and hence helps determine whether an organisation is an employer of choice.

Spend time identifying what current and potential employees are looking for from your workplace. Engage with your staff and ask for their feedback. Your employees are in the best position to tell you what is working and what isn’t. It is also crucial that your employees are engaged and that you have their buy-in.

The goal is to develop a collaborative and participatory company culture. This drives employee engagement, improves morale and minimises turnover.

For roster-based industries like hospitality, one way to create this culture is a virtual or online staff room that allow employees who may not physically see each other due to conflicting rosters to connect, as well as provide the opportunity for workers to swap shifts. A virtual staff room also provides an effective way to keep employees up-to-date with company information and news.

2. Encourage work-life balance
Work-life balance refers to the juggling act we all do between work, time with family, ‘me-time’, exercise, interests and hobbies.

Workplaces which promote flexibility and work-life balance are highly sought after. A workplace can promote work-life balance in a number of ways through providing flexible work hours, offering flexibility for working parents and carers or for people balancing work and study, and encouraging down-time or leisure time throughout the workday.

3. Recognise and reward staff  
Recognising and rewarding staff for great performance is a crucial element to becoming an employer of choice. Employees want to know that they are valued and appreciated. This creates a positive atmosphere which improves engagement and promotes good performance.

While formal recognition and rewards programs which offer bonuses or other financial remuneration can be useful, informal programs are often just as effective. Some studies have shown that financial incentives alone are unlikely to retain employees for more than a few months if they are already disengaged.

Simple actions such as publicly acknowledging someone’s good work in person or via staff communications, profiling staff members on the website or social media channels or running ‘employee of the week’ awards can have a big impact.

4. Invest in learning and development
Providing opportunities for learning and development is critical, even in hospitality, where many workers are casual and may only stay with an business for a short time. This isn’t limited to just formal training programs, it also includes working with staff on their career goals, providing a career path to employees and mentoring.

Training programs around customer services, best practice, management skills and cultural training are highly valued by employees in the hospitality space. Not only can these skills be used for their current position, for workers who hospitality might be an interim career, these skills can be easily transferred to just about any other industry.

The key to becoming an employer of choice is to make the needs and desires of employees a priority. By taking even a few simple steps to make your workplace an enviable place to be, you can attract and retain great talent.

12 November, 2013

Article reposted from Hospitality Magazine.