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Tim & Jos Nash MBII 

Running a pub in a small village may have seemed like a romantic idea, but behind the cosy and welcoming atmosphere lie numerous challenges. Tim and Jos Nash MBII, the operators of the crown inn in Lanlivery, Cornwall, share their story and insights with the BII’s Ben Mueller MBII

Tim and Jos Nash’s introduction into the pub industry was not through the usual route. Living in Lanlivery in Cornwall, a small village with a lacklustre pub experience, they saw an opportunity when the lease for the local pub became available. 

“In our small village, the pub was a central hub of social activity. However, over the years it had lost its charm and sense of community. Having grown up in the village and waitressed back in my youth, I remembered how busy and lively the pub used to be, and Tim and I truly believed we could bring it back to that,” says Jos. This belief, coupled with their complementary skill sets – Tim’s background in clothing retail and customer service, and Jos’s expertise in event management and compliance – they took the leap into running their first pub. 

The reality of running a pub has naturally brought its fair share of challenges. 

One of the biggest hurdles was underestimating rising costs. Despite meticulous planning and forecasting, and allowing a 20% increase across the board, it wasn’t enough. The energy price hikes, which affected most other suppliers, including laundry which, for example, went up 28% and had a huge impact on profitability. 

“Our rent alone went up 28% just after the first full year’s trading owing to a big jump in RPI which the lease is linked to,” says Tim. The minimum wage increase, although factored in, has had another big impact with another rise due in April 2024. Tim and Jos count themselves lucky with their very loyal and dedicated team, and they have made concerted efforts to retain them through fair treatment and occasional perks. 

“We applied a small loyalty increase. So for every year you work, your pay goes up. It’s letting them know that we are looking after them and rewarding their long service,” says Tim. 

Tim and Jos’s approach to staff management is focused on fair compensation and recognition, which has seen them maintain good retention rates. Additionally, occasional team outings and experiences, such as team dinners, strengthen camaraderie helping to build a really positive work culture. Encouraging young people to join their workforce has helped to solidify them in their community and ensures they are building a talent pipeline for the future of the pub. 

In the face of rising costs, Tim and Jos knew that they needed to keep a close eye on their cashflow, and have always kept a very close eye on the numbers, ensuring they continuously review and adapt their business plan. “We look at our margins and cashflow all the time to see where we can tweak stuff. We also check what costs we have coming in on a daily basis,” says Tim. They closely monitor expenses, scrutinise invoices, and make necessary adjustments to maintain their gross profit margins making sure to keep a good balance of quality and value. This approach allows them to be agile and adaptable, meaning they can tackle each challenge head-on, while staying true to their vision for the pub. 

Setting their pub apart from others in the area, Tim and Jos focused on creating a warm, welcoming atmosphere, bringing the best bits of traditional pubs into The Crown Inn. They consciously avoided the trend of gastro-pub transformation, instead prioritising quality food and a dedicated space for drinkers, allowing them to take care of their regulars, keeping them at the heart of their community. Embracing sustainability, they source local produce and minimise waste, reflecting their commitment to their rural community and its values. “We don’t use any single use plastics, and none of our waste goes to landfill. We’re in the centre of quite a rural farming community. Our potatoes come from two fields away, they don’t even go into a freezer! We also got to make the most of our location and had venison and pheasant all last winter,” says Jos. 

Despite the challenges, one of the most rewarding moments for Tim and Jos came from seeing their pub bustling with life during Christmas. “It was like the whole village was in here. Wall-to-wall, rafter-to-rafter,” says Tim. 

The sense of community spirit among villagers is strong and reaffirms their belief in the importance of the pub as a social hub. Their efforts to create a welcoming space where locals can meet and feel at home have paid off in the form of positive feedback and a continuously growing loyal customer base. Trade continues to grow with a more than 60% increase in turnover since taking the pub on in 2022. Review scores have improved and they are now receiving consistent top marks on Trip advisor and Google. 

Reflecting on their journey, Tim and Jos offer valuable advice for aspiring pub owners. They emphasise the importance of careful financial planning, and maintaining a business-oriented mindset: “It is not simply enough to be a welcoming host!” They stress the need for realistic expectations and resilience in the face of setbacks. They also emphasise how important it is to thoroughly do your due diligence before buying into anything, “don’t accept that there is a Fire Certificate – get the certificate checked by a professional as this could save you some very expensive costs in the long run,” they advise. 

It’s about checking all the paperwork and if you are new to running pubs, use professionals to cast an eye on anything that is compliance based. Make sure that you’re making a decision based on business sense – use your head, not your heart, they say. 

“Be 100% sure you’re making a business decision, not a romantic fuzzy hot decision. And then, if you decide to go ahead, go for it! Be prepared for hard work. Running a pub is not for the faint-hearted but it certainly is exciting, challenging and rewarding.” 

Looking ahead, Tim and Jos’s primary goal is to achieve profitability and sustainability for their pub. Despite the financial challenges to the industry as a whole, they remain committed to their vision, using their experience and learning from past mistakes to steer their business towards success. With their focus on fantastic hospitality and their hard work to bring a sense of community, they will ensure that their pub remains a cherished institution in their village.
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