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< Back to news 03 January, 2009

Beacon talks to John Hewitt about industry challenges....

Spotlight on....

Beacon talks to John Hewitt about industry
challenges and how Beacon membership has
benefited his business…

John is the General Manager of 3 Star AA establishment, Solberge Hall Hotel in Northallerton. The hotel is a Grade II listed Georgian country house set in 9 acres of grounds, with views overlooking the Hambleton Hills and the Vale of York.

The relatively new owners, have exciting plans to update the 24 bedrooms and their bathrooms and will also be developing the bar alongside their new brasserie. This and their fine dining restaurant both seat up to 60 people and serve an interesting range of dishes. It certainly seems 2007 will be a busy year at Solberge Hall, with the bar due to be finished in time for Easter and work to begin in October to add a 200 capacity function room.

How long have you been a member of the AA?
Since buying the property in March 2006, the previous owners were also associated with the AA for several years.

What do you think are the key challenges facing businesses in the Hotel industry?
Continuing to make a profit when faced with the increasing costs of purchasing utilities. Other challenges we face are as employers, when recruiting staff and ensuring they are appointed at the correct level and on the right salary. Difficulties arise when adhering to Health and Safety regulations, especially where some of the criteria are contradictory. Also, working to get the business balance right, to provide services within different sectors of the market in order to keep all guests happy.

How did becoming a member of Beacon help you with these challenges?
Primarily by reducing the operating costs of the hotel by 5% and, in turn, increasing profit. I have seen a significant difference in what the establishment was paying before, when comparing invoices over a period of years. In particular, by joining Beacon and using their LPG gas supplier, Calor, I have made an overall saving of 24% compared to the price I was paying with them direct. I have also experienced time savings by using Beacon central billing, due to reduced administration.

What do you purchase through Beacon?
I joined Beacon due to the wide choice of suppliers* on offer, when compared to other purchasing groups. As well as energy, I also purchase cleaning products, guest amenities and housekeeping products, bar supplies, cellar management services, a range of food products and hygiene services. It is likely that I will use Stalbridge for linen and I am looking at Mitre and B&Q for furnishings, fittings & equipment for the forthcoming refurbishment work.

How does being a Beacon member help in the day-to-day running of your property?
The central billing service really makes an impact: it cuts down on the amount of time I spend on invoice administration. Paying by Direct Debit means that I don’t have to sign lots of cheques.

What aspects of membership are the most beneficial to you?
The reduction in purchasing costs, which therefore increases the hotels’ profitability.

What else would you like to see from Beacon?
Beacon has most things covered, I can’t think of anything else – except bigger discounts!!

If you think your business, like John’s, would benefit from Beacon membership, please call us today on 01904 695588. We will be happy to discuss your supplier requirements and arrange for a free invoice audit.

*John uses the following well-known suppliers: Calor, Bunzl, Aslotel, Scottish & Newcastle, Matthew Clark, BOC Sureserve and Initial Hygiene.