Ortus Secured Finance: The important of ideas

The importantance of ideas

That famous job interview question, "What is your biggest weakness?" is a difficult one to answer.

That famous job interview question, “What is your biggest weakness?” is a difficult one to answer. Saying something like “I’m a bit dishonest,” isn’t an option. So interviewees will turn weaknesses into strengths, like “I’m a perfectionist,” or “I’m a workaholic”…

Well, I’ll be open about my big weakness. I’m terrible at coming up with new ideas. I never think of anything original. I can take someone else’s idea and turn it into an outcome. But if you ask me to think of an idea, I will simply stare back at you.

That is why I like the leisure industry. It’s full of people with great ideas. Often these ideas appear obvious once you get to know them - a bit like the lottery numbers. However, the skill is coming up with them, and this week has seen some excellent examples.

In its latest newsletter, Propel, the public relations consultancy for the licensed retail, food service, tourism and hospitality market, reported on the opening of a £3m nightclub in Basildon by Deltic Group.

I think this story is newsworthy because it was the single biggest investment in a regional nightclub for a decade. The club itself is fairly normal: different rooms for different music, fancy interior design and a sky bar. But, it does have a little something extra - the toilets contain pamper stations complete with GHD hairdryers and hair straighteners. It doesn’t seem like much, but it is original - and this can make all the difference. Lots of people (especially the ladies) will try the club at least once.

The role of innovation in the nightclub sector has also been picked up by Pinders, the property valuers.

In its November regional e-newsletter, Pinders reported that the number of nightclubs has shrunk from 3,144 in 2005 to 1,733 in 2015. There are several reasons for this. For sure, university tuition fees and youth unemployment have reduced the spending power of many traditional nightclub customers. However, Pinders speculates that revellers can now go to a bar and enjoy a wider selection of drinks, cheaper prices and longer opening hours.

Pinders believes that technology can help. It says many clubbers are put off by long queues which “doesn’t fit with today’s young generation who are used to having a phone app for everything.” It suggests that any club operator who is able to come up with an app to reduce queues and speed up bar service is likely to gain a material advantage.

This focus on original thought is emphasised elsewhere in the Pinders e-newsletter. For example:

  • A coffee shop that doubles up as a wine-tasting venue and store has opened in Copthorne, West Sussex. Oliver's Coffee and Wine Shop allows customers to sample up to 24 wines before deciding what to buy. Prices start at 30p.
  • London’s smallest craft beer taproom has been launched in Piccadilly. The London Beer House, which measures just 15ft x 20ft, opened in Charles II Street with nine rotational keg beers and a wide selection of bottles and cans.
  • Artisan bakery-cafe Foxcroft & Ginger has opened the UK's first poached egg bar in the Beyond Retro vintage clothing store in Stoke Newington Road, Dalston. The egg bar specialises in "eggs cooked at 63 degrees for an hour that give a great running yolk and perfectly cooked white.”

The role of original ideas is just one of the reasons why we, at Ortus, only keep half an eye on industry trends. For sure, the general direction of the leisure industry is important and we can’t ignore it.  However, whether the industry is going up or down, any business built on an original idea and run by quality people, always stand a great chance. 

Attributed to Jon Salisbury, Managing Director of Ortus Secured Finance

Leave a comment