How long have you been a BII Member and why did you join?
We joined the BII about 6 years ago. We joined when we renovated our comedy club – we needed so much help and advice and the BII was able to give us that.
What BII benefits/services do you find most useful?
I have used so many of the benefits over the years it’s not true. The first one that saved us a lot of money was the card payment deal. We process a large amount of card payments and the BII Member Rate that we got has saved us a small fortune over the years. Every year, I use a lot of the benefits, but I would say that I could use even more.
This year we have had help with our policy making and had great rent review advice from Amy Rudrum at Estate Legal. She has also put us in touch with Dan Mackernan who I believe is involved with the BII London Council. Everywhere we turn, there is help and advice from people connected to the BII. W
Have you used our helplines recently? If so how did you find the service?
We used the Employment Legal advice line last year when we had a staffing issue and we’ve had advice that has helped us gain our Best Bar None accreditation, which we are really proud of. We are trying for a cup in the Best Bar None Awards this year!
It would be really difficult to put a value on what our BII Membership has saved us, but it is definitely worth its weight in gold.
What is unique about your venue?
We are a comedy club, so we are very different to a standard pub or bar. We run our Backyard Comedy Club Nights every Thursday, Friday and Saturday and then host specific comedians and events at other times. We have a fully accessible, wheelchair friendly venue which was once of our aims when we rebuilt back in 2013.
There is a lot of pressure on pubs at the moment – what’s are your current issues/challenges?
Our biggest challenge at the moment is the change in young people’s drinking habits. They don’t drink the same volume or type of alcohol that they used to. We have to offer something new and different all the time to get them to keep coming back. They want to visit newly opened venues, or attend themed nights in other late night venues.
The good thing is that as an event based venue, we can cater to them and have been introducing themed comedy, from Science evenings to comedy based on whole nations – we have a Romanian and Australian night at the moment!
Smaller margins and increased staffing costs with the higher living wage and minimum rates are also an issue. Luckily though, people are starting to see us as a career option – not just a bar job, so that means we are getting a better calibre of people and don’t have such a high turnover of staff.
Would you recommend joining the BII to other licensees? If so, why?
Apart from the obvious cost savings with the helplines and the Marketplace suppliers, it’s just really great to have someone to ask questions to that you feel you can trust. There are so many people involved in the BII who have been in the trade and can point you in the right direction, it’s great to have that support.
What has been the most successful new idea you have introduced to your business recently?
We’ve always wanted to give something back to the local community, so we introduced Charity nights into our regular events. Last year we hosted about 20 of them, all in support of local charities. We support St Joseph’s Hospice, who have a fundraising walk and have us as the finish point so that we can provide drinks etc. to the walkers.
It’s great to be involved with the community and it means we can give something back, and get some new customers in who hadn’t heard of us before.