Slatterys Pub… 10 years with an “Outlier” finally comes to an end
The time has come. I now have my 10 year track record. It is time for me to move on and thank Irial Slattery, our staff, customers, suppliers, local entrepreneurs and their workers for the most amazing 10 years of my life.
It's always nice when you get a document like The DIGI (Drinks Industry Group of Ireland) Pre-Budget 2016 Submission. It's nice because it provides us with CSO figures delivered by the Department of Finance. They must be fairly accurate. This document allows us analyse our own performance over the same period. A period where Lansdowne Road/Aviva Stadium was out of action for 3.5 years (2007 to 2010), the country was in full blown recession (2008 to 2014) and competition increased exponentially since 2012. Together with Irial Slattery we delivered an 11% 10 year compound annual growth rate (CAGR) in an industry which saw an 8 year -5.42% CAGR in that same period. In simpler terms together, Irial Slattery and I, grew a pub by 230% while the rest of the industry declined by -34%.
I have no idea how long the average Bar Manager remains in their position. Most will move up or out and just like in football there are few happy endings. I have remained in my position so that I could one day have this 10 year track record. But none of it could have been possible without the team around me. Most importantly of those has been my friend and Pub owner Irial Slattery, 10 years of exceptional synergy but no one made an omelette without cracking an egg.
Success was impossible without Heroes like Angel, Renata and Sarah. Gladiators like Michael Murphy and Stephane Vallier. More recently, the younger energetic recruits like Diego Costa, Eoghan Behan, Mark Seery and Alix Gillice are now led by the calm head and experience of Fergal Allen and creative flair of Martin Gillespie. They are driving the business for the next 10 years. And of course I can never forget our longest serving and most “admired” bar man Pat Dempsey. We all love Pat!
But more then the staff, their leader and our operations. Our success was only possible because people like you, voted with their feet. Those growth rates represent thousands of customers who saw something different in Slattery's Pub. What that was can never be fully described. Beauty is truly in the eye of the “beerholder”. We can point to the famously fast service, fair pricing and marketing innovations but that still doesn't really answer the question. The real answer lies more in looking at what the industry was doing… or rather not doing at the time.
I had never run a pub before taking on Slatterys. In fact, I had never even watched a game in a pub. I love sport and I would not have dared subject myself to the awful levels of service and quality of TVs that the pubs delivered while charging you so much for a drink. When I looked at Slattery’s Pub I saw a beautiful old man’s pub that could be “Turned On”.
I turned it on by turning down the lights, adding candles and turning on the music. Then a sprinkling of staff were added that could hold a conversation while I fixed new HD TVs and a network of technology to the 150 year old walls. Then, we waited for our recipe to cook.
OK! Sometimes we overcooked and other times we undercooked… but now and again we got it “just right”. And when we got it almost perfect we repeated it until it was perfect. But perfection is fleeting, once attained the environment changes and what was once possible becomes impossible. Change is required, and change was delivered. All the while I absorbed the hundred years of running pubs that coursed through Irial Slattery’s veins and after 10 years it’s now in my genes. Irial taught me the discipline and guile required for long term success.
The four major challenges were the temporary closing of the stadium, the recession, the increased competition and the losing of our right hand man Michael Murphy. Each time we took it in our strides. The Bath opening up in Feb 2012 was the biggest shock but we knew it would happen - it’s Economics 101.
So while the industry moaned about how difficult it was to now to make a few quid and so many publicans licked their wounds from Icarus type adventures we focussed on what the industry had forgotten. That a Public House was exactly that... a place where people could go to instead of being at home. A place where you felt just as safe, a place where you had just as good a view of the match and a place where, just like home, you’d end up having a chat. It was those chats which led to friendships and those moments became good memories. Who doesn’t want more good memories?
I want to thank everyone again for allowing me a time where I achieved the most in my life while also meeting my wife Barbara and started my family of Eva, Julia and Daniel. None of it would have been possible without meeting Irial Slattery on that morning walk in 2006 and of course each and every one of you voting with your feet and responding to the changes we made at Slatterys which helped to put Beggars Bush D4 on the Map!
Where do I go now? That, is again up to you, and if you like the idea of working with an “Outlier”.