Finding ways around problems of all sizes

31 August 2001 by
Finding ways around problems of all sizes

Most of our costs will, I expect, be similar to those in hotels, restaurants and other such fixed sites and yet every so often there is the unexpected and unwanted additional bill.

One such expense occurred last week when, following a highly successful event, one of our drivers reversed a lorry against a wall ready for collection the next morning. This vehicle was in a locked compound, on the client's premises, yet overnight the diesel filler cap was smashed and the tank was drained.

Such petty theft is barely acknowledged by an already harassed police force - it wasn't worth claiming on insurance so, once again, we were left to pick up the tab.

Business is generally good but, while in my doom-and-gloom mode, I will reflect on the chaos caused by foot-and-mouth disease. While Northamptonshire was relatively untouched, it has had a huge effect on our business, altering our mix of business from the anticipated corporate days to an increasing volume of hire and private functions.

Much of our usual business relates to company family fun days. Many of these events are planned in March and April - when we were all being told to avoid the countryside at all costs - and July, September and October are now devoid of such business.

However, confidence is gradually returning and bookings are coming in with two or three weeks' notice.

In recent months, we have taken part in a weekly business network - Business Network International. This involves meeting over breakfast to exchange business and ideas with a number of other unrelated businesses. Having to explain the nature of our business in a succinct and effective manner has made me focus on what our business is and how we ask for the right type of business.

In addition, having 25 or so other businesses (ranging from a bank to a garage, including an HR specialist, solicitor and so on) actively promoting our business to their contacts, colleagues and friends has led to a pleasing level of enquiries.

While the formula of the meetings may not immediately appeal to everyone, I suggest that your local BNI meeting ( may be well worth considering for those seeking to fill conference rooms or bedrooms, or gain any form of added exposure.

ROBERT ALVAREZ is proprietor of Phoenix Hospitality event caterers in Towcester, Northamptonshire Next diary from Robert Alvarez: 4 October

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