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Alistair Flower of Flower Hotels is your textbook definition of a publican. However, his love of a good yarn and building relationships extends well beyond the front bar. Alistair or ‘Flowery’ has a real knack for knowing how to tap into a local community and to build an incredibly strong brand.

This penchant for community engagement has seen him win multiple national awards with the Australian Liquor Association and the Australian Hotels Association (AHA) – including winning Best Community Hotel in Australia for his flagship pub based in Port Macquarie; the Settlers Inn.

So how does he manage to engage his local community beyond the four walls of his pubs?

Sponsorship!

Flowery is very strategic about how he approaches his sponsorship opportunities. He sets clear objectives, he very actively manages the sponsorship deal and he measures like a ninja.

If you are a small business who wants to better leverage your community engagement or even a sporting organisation who wants to understand how a sponsor chooses where to invest – then I suggest you listen to this episode with Alistair Flower!

If you’d like to connect with Alistair you can reach out to him on LinkedIn.

Interview Transcript:

Jane:

Flowery. I think it’s safe to say that out of just about anybody that I have known in my time of living in Port Macquarie, I’ve never seen a single person makes so much positive impact in such a short amount of time as you have in our regional community. Your passion for community engagement is infectious and inspiring. What drives you personally to engage so much with your local community?

Alistair:

Well thank you, Jane I think we’re not the fool coming to Port Macquarie. I was working in pubs as I’ve always done. I’ve worked in pubs forever, but I was working for a corporate company and I certainly understood what community engagement was, but was never ever able to practice what I was preaching to all the pubs that were in our control. So I basically studied, this is probably the best way to do it. And I was trying to develop, our venue managers to do it. When I actually came up, bought the pub Settlers Inn was our first, I was able to actually, literally be in the trenches literally within the community and was just able to be, based on the front line and be able to do it that way. And, it’s certainly something that, every pub, you know, big or small will, will suggest that, being community minded or centric is very, very important to businesses and in particularly regional businesses where they are smaller communities and you certainly can be making, more of an impact with with what we’ve worked with, with the engagement that you do.

Jane:

Yeah. So you were working in I guess the corporate pub life in, in Sydney and wondering and those, that, pub group had pubs throughout regional Australia did it?

Alistair:

Yes. As well. Yeah. So we had actually, well that, that was actually the Port Macquarie Hotel in Tacking Point. So I’ve actually been, and that was probably one of the things about when I came into Settlers, I already knew Port Macquarie very, very well, right. But I was always the faceless guy. I was sitting in my library, I’m trying to pull the levers on people, on managers that were up here, but clearly when I’m, you know, and that was just me as an executive manager. When you’re actually an owner operator and you’re actually in the front line, it’s a whole different story. Instead of me trying to send someone else in to do the dirty work, I’m in there doing myself.

Jane:

So when you were saying you were learning and so you were sitting in the corporate ivory tower, you could see that the pubs that you looked after regionally needed, you know, that community engagement. What were some of the things that you sat there and were frustrated about the fact that you couldn’t actually get happening and that you thought, right, when I get to town, when I get to Port Macquarie and open my own pubs, I’m going to do this. Like what, what were the things that you’d identified with?

Alistair:

Well, look, the number one thing for me, that I’ve identified and learned over time and clearly learned with a lot of mistakes and probably one of the benefits of working for a big corporate, you know, we tried everything. We might a lot mistake, but you actually need to be very, very genuine with what you do. And, it was very hard to try and get other people to do it where they didn’t actually really not necessarily believe it, that they weren’t invested and when invested in the outcome, for what that was to look like. And, and when you are, and clearly that that’s cultural and that’s obviously something that you develop over time, but very, very different when you’re actually physically doing it and leading it yourself. And, you know, when that pub group had either 50 pubs and clearly, you know, we had to change, a little bit of the position of, of how we sort of would interact with communities because we didn’t have 50 of me or 50 people in it who had that real invested interest to go in and do it.

Jane:

And we’ve got five businesses now. And one of the things that works for me is they were they within a stone, throw of each other deliberately. So I can be the one leading that community, which is ultimately the same community, across, if it’s Wauchope or Lake Cathie or in town here, it’s close enough to be heavily involved, which is all like to be,

Jane:

Yeah. And, and you’re a publican by heart, by trade. Like there’s, there’s everything about you is, is public and you love a chat. You genuinely engage with the community. You stay absolutely in your happy space when you’re sitting at the bar sharing a beer with one of the locals. So can you talk about some of the community engagement initiatives and support that you’ve offered to that, to the Hastings region coming here?

Alistair:

Is it five years ago? Yes, we were in our fifth year, actually. We literally moved up here with our third child who was six weeks. So I try and work out my timing on her birthday. We’re actually, we’ll be five in December. So just under five years at the moment, look and very much, and go back to the old original thing I said, 50 pubs means that you have 50 different types of communities. You know, and different types of hotels have different demographics or different target markets or different brands. So it was, it’s never is, you know, industry on I think a one size fits all and you really need to make sure you really understand the brand of each hotel and the demographic of what you are trying to achieve and you know, for those in Port Macquarie you know we’ve got the Settlers in which is very family and sports and community.

Alistair:

And I’ve got Fernhill Tavern which is very tradie but also is very small sports and community as well. Different type of community, more of a tradie business community. But some of those, aspects certainly work there as well. So, so we community sponsorship, as a way of community engagement is one of the things that we really pride ourselves on doing well. Yeah. And for that, we believe we can manage it. So we do a lot of it. And, you know, and that’s, that really for us has been probably the most successful of our community engagements that we do and we’ve, you know, pinpointed, community sporting groups and obviously your sponsorship can be a huge spectrum. But we really target in on our community sporting groups as a response in a sponsorship level.

 

Jane:

Why the sporting groups, what made you choose sporting groups?

Alistair:

Well, one of the key reasons is there’s a lot of them in the sense, a lot of him in the stance of, and,you know, I might deal with one just that I’ll deal with the football club and football club might have a hundred players over multiple grades, you know, with a community of, amongst them, with girlfriends and husbands or wives and families. And then other sponsors, you know, that can be up to four to 500 people. So, you know, if I do a really good deal and we’ll talk, I’m sure a bit about what a deal looks like, with one club, that’s a pretty good reach. And I at least I know that, I can talk somehow directly with each of those families.

Alistair:

I know that it can hopefully stick a bit more like mud than some of the other mediums that you may use, like a newspaper clipping or whatever it might be. So I like to, to deal directly with one person associated and that’s really my foot in the door. And then ultimately from there, I get the rails run, you know, we’re a pub. So, usually they don’t, they might only deal with one pub, one hospitality, one real estate or one dental or whatever, the case might be. So that’s ultimately my foot in the door and what puts me over the other pubs, is what this commercial arrangement may look like. And, you know, you basically a third commas buying, supported those people.

Jane:

Yeah. And so you feel that you get to kind of, I guess penetrate that community and that club a lot more effectively. If you go in as a solid sponsor, a committed and a present sponsor, it sounds like, as opposed to kind of doing something a little bit more passive, like placing a newspaper ad in the paper. Like I guess it’s that human connection and it’s that element of relationships that really takes sponsorship or that marketing activity to a different level. Right?

Alistair:

Yeah, that’s right. And, and when you are in a regional town, and community is so strong, having that absolute connection, is very personable, is absolutely the way. Well is it, is that advantageous for us? Sponsorship though, can mean a whole gamut of different things from $100 voucher all the way through to being a major sponsor where you might be giving $10,000 cash, you know and that’s where it’s sort of you have to really get down and dirty with understanding exactly where the opportunities lie with that group.

Jane:

Yeah. And that will fundamentally, I would imagine spring from the planning considerations that you put into which organization do you sponsor and how heavily you sponsor them? which I imagine kind of relate back to, well, who’s your target audience, for each pub. What are the planning considerations that you apply for your sponsorship efforts? How do you kind of start off that, that process?

Alistair:

Yeah. Well, yeah. Well that, that’s a good point. So, and ultimately, every community group needs money, needs support. So there’s a lot of people knocking on your door for that. And we like to do a fair bit of homework before we commence getting into a local sponsorship. And mainly is to make sure that that’s aligned and fits into your brand, you know, and so you need to look at the history of the club. You need to look at how they engage, their community through their social media and you need to make sure they have the same values that you had. Yeah. You know, you don’t want them, you know, you don’t want a road club, you know, who getting themselves in trouble all the time because if you’re doing well with your sponsorship and there was a real alignment between what they do and your brand, well, it’s hurting your brand.

Alistair:

So now you need to stay very close to that. Other sponsors, you know, you look at other sponsors and other businesses that are associated. I always like to talk to a million people before I do a deal, just to really understand a lot of it. And this is a big part of it as well and it’s a challenging topic because a lot of the sporting groups, they volunteers and sometimes, you really need to understand who’s running the club at the time. And I often as part of my sponsorship, depending on clearly, I like to sit on the committee and help, you know, because, if I can help them build the culture and camaraderie within the club, that clearly helps me as a licensed premise or a hospitality sponsor as well.

Alistair:

So I like to help where I can and you know, they’re people who have got full time jobs and not much time where, well, you know, I can see it as spending good quality time, actually helping the name is good quality commercial sense for me at the same time. So I certainly do get involved. And, I also find that often when a community group comes to you with a sponsorship proposal, it’s pretty templated. So I find that they, and they do that because they’re throwing out the barely to everybody. They’re trying to get sponsorship for their Jersey. So I sort of, I like to actually sit down with them and actually then understand what their template and what they’re looking for and what their objectives are. And then I like to basically go through and create our own, sponsorhip and customize it and that really makes sure that we can add, add a few additional things in there that might be measurable or might be, you know, things that we can put through the sponsorship that we can, hold each other to account over the period.

Jane:

Yeah. And so it sounds like, Oh man, you go in looking at, at who the leadership is within the club and the people behind, behind the club, not only on the committee, but also on the team. Are there going to be rogues, you know, what’s the opportunity in terms of the ultimate rate? and then you start looking at the structure of the plan. What about for you? So talked a little bit about the measurement. What’s in it for you? Do you kind of, what are you looking at in the planning stations stages of well, what am I going to get out of this?

Alistair

Yes. And, with regard to measurement, which is an outcome of, you know, hospitality sponsor is probably sometimes a bit easier because you know, we can act a bit like their, their clubhouse or their Headboards. So we actually make it a lot easier to, to measure on what that looks like. But look, I also stayed as I started, as I alluded to at the start, you know, it’s my way of engaging, call it 500 people, a hundred families through one sponsorship and I use them as my foot in the door. But then it allows me to actually go directly to these families and I then will try and explore ways that, you know, I don’t necessarily just want to talk to these people in a club environment. I.E come to the pub after the game tops, might see him once a week, but then I’ve sort of worked through and really make sure that, the individual players, you know, feel comfortable that they might want to bring, their wives down or their families or they work colleagues.

Alistair:

And I treat it like a 400 individual sponsorships, wants my foot in the door where people can obviously go wrong with sponsorships, is they might say, right, I will, we’ve done a deal here. I’ve got my templated contract, like, I don’t want 1000 bucks. Here’s my thousand bucks. And then I sort of sit back in my desk and go and just wait for everything to the money that come through. Which is ultimately the thing is that doing this sponsorship lot, this is an agreement is literally a foot in the door. It’s actually then once you do that, and that’s why I like to stoke my agreements and I’ll put, I put measurables in place and I make sure that I’m very transparent with them in regards to expectations, but it also, it really, make sure that, I’m engaging the club throughout the whole season, it actually means that we’re not, the first couple of weeks I might be going down with a case of beer and cooking the local barbecue after training.

Alistair:

You know, I’m there I’m looking at a way that I can give a man of the match award offering, a place to have a function or a committee meeting. They can, you know, looking at all the other different ways that I can make sure that I’m present and I’m making sure that I engage them through the social media is talking about them and how the first graders went or how, you know, a little Billy’s under five teams that has gone making sure, which again, all fits into my brand of being community and family and just making sure that I’m pinpoint that right across every, every medium.

Jane:

So, which is awesome that you get down and like that is so extra in terms of your commitment to that sponsorship. Like how do you, because now you’ve got five pubs and I’m assuming that there’s a sponsorship plan and strategy and framework for all of them. How, I mean, when you’ve got five businesses to run, do you have a limit as to how many sponsorships that you can, you can commit to in, in that depth?

Alistair

Well, and look, a lot of places will come in with a budget. I’ve got $10,000 to just spend with community sponsorships. and you know, if you’re going to be corporate, that’s, you know, it’s probably a non negotiable, I like to look at each, you know, if there’s 15 sponsorships wanting X amount of dollars, I don’t mind having a look at it because, you know, as I said, I’ve got so many parameters in place to make sure that I can hold, both them and us accountable, that the relationship is solid and we’re actually getting a solid return for it.

Jane:

So what about the time, the time involved?

Alistair:

Time involved. My time, our time, you know, and clearly, you know, as I said, I’m leading, here and I certainly would know every prisoner know, every captain I would know most players in and a lot of the teams, but I also develop the rest of my staff to do the same. You know, I’ll have a meeting secure. I security guards on, make sure that the security guard knows the coach and the captain and the players in the community,

Jane:

a security guard. At the settlers,?

Alistair:

That’s right, I would make sure every single person or us has that relationship with them. I can feel, but also, and again talking about some of the, the senior teams, but I also have in my sponsorships, if those guys play up, you know, as I said, we’ve talked about it, the alarm and all their brands. If they play up our penalize at the same time, you know, if something untoward happens, I can go and say, well hang on, this wasn’t part of our agreement that your players could do this. Yeah, no, that’s an element of a penalty. So that holds them accountable as well. You know, that they’re not doing anything untoward at the time.

Jane:

Yeah. Yeah. And look, that’s, that’s, we see that happen at a, at a national scale. You know, when the NRL players, you know, let’s, let’s be honest, that’s probably the biggest examples that we see most often. But then you just see the sponsorships drop, you know, and which is fair enough. And that happens at the local level.

Alistair:

And it should happen at the local level all the way, all the way through. But the other thing is always, so we certainly engage and we’re certainly very relevant to them at all times, but we also innovate, you know, we, it’s not just about handing over cash and walking away. We work a lot of our sponsorship in times where we might actually give them a function room or we might give them beer or we might give them ice, we create promotions to look at additional ways that maybe like we can get them into the venue. And again, if you look at maybe another industry, you know, how can you look at a way to get them into your car yard or to a retail store.

Alistair:

So we creating promotions and might be a social media competition that we do there as well and just keep on trying and keep on staying relevant. And you know, the other day with the AFL guys, they’re doing some player profiles at the moment, you know, not very hard for them to put their mind in the logo on their player profile. So it’s something that’s highly engaging on their social medias, but they’re also, now because, and again, it’s just because I’ve got a relationship and I had a chat to the guys and I put their logo, at the bottom of the client profile and one of the questions is the pipe, you know, what do you love most about the sets? And then it gets them talking favourably about the hotel. That was very easy, but that was a way that we had the relationship with the club to go in and just innovate a way that would be a benefit for them. And clearly it benefits for me.

Jane:

Yeah. I love it. Wow. That’s so in depth in terms of the links that you’d go to really maximize and make sure that that sponsorship you get the most out of it, but not only you get the most out of it that they get the most out of it. So we’ve talked about in terms of aligning this activity to your brand, this sponsorship activity to your brand because within the kind of marketing ecosystem sponsor sponsorships sits very much in that kind of branding alignment and positioning space. How else do, do the sponsorships feed into your brand and the way that these sponsorships, I guess, are perceived within the community? How else does this impact the brand?

Alistair:

Well, look, one of the key, you know, under the table type things that you might not necessarily see, but when I sponsor a local, might be a junior football team, soccer team, whatever it might be. Those families who, as I said, but we try and really hard to engage each of those families through different things. We do think favourably on the set was in or whatever the hotel or whatever the brand is that you have at the time. And you know, it might be even actually put this into the agreements or it just might be as, as it in, in my seems to be relatively organic, but that it’s already people thinking well of your brand because of the alignment and loyal and then when you actually get those families and those individuals, those people, it might be a simple, you know, a photo of their bistro mill that they’ve had and promoting on their own socials and it looks absolutely authentic and organic that they are loving our product and it doesn’t necessarily look like it’s coming from me.

Alistair:

It’s not like me putting an advert on stage and saying, Hey, come down for snips or nights. It’s me being able to actually just work and build relationship with these community groups and they are more inclined to put a favourable thing, social media post about our product. And you know, and that’s probably that sort of element there is one of our key successes that I’ve got all these people sort of, it’s a bit like a pyramid scheme I suppose. And you’ve got all these different people now sort of you know, talking favourably on our product. Now the big key one there, the and I’ve probably meant she’d mentioned this before, this is all a foot in the door actually. I keep mentioning the foot in the door, but you need to make sure that you’ve got a product that they actually want.

Alistair:

It’s only the foot in the door. You’ve got to actually have a, company or a business or a service or an offering that actually is, you know, is actually something that people want. And so I always speak to these, these businesses, they, sorry, these community groups about what can we do better? What can we do? You know, because I want to make sure that they don’t feel obligated to come to the pub. They actually genuinely want to and they’re picking out maybe in the first instance because of the relationship. But secondly, because it’s a bloody good food or it’s a, you know, it’s the best place to watch the footy or whatever the case might be. So in a community, aligned hotel, that’s just another way where it fits into my key brand strategy is having a lot of these other individuals through the connection or the sponsorship, endorsing it and talking about our breath.

Jane:

Hang on. Let me just summarize. So summarize what went on. So essentially what you’re saying is that because you actually provide a product and service that’s aligned with these you know, sponsored teams values. So for example, your chicken schnitzel, region renowned, like everyone loves coming to the city for four chickens nitty. So that’s giving people a reason to come and support you because they’re like, yeah, I can go get a really decent feed. I can bring the family, I can, you know, have a few beers. The kids can go out in the in the play park, et cetera. So not only are you providing them with an opportunity to, to actually come and reciprocate that response, but you’re actually giving them a great experience. And that’s what that is. What word of mouth is, is fundamentally all about. So you’re providing something that’s remarkable and they’re remarking on it and they’re remarking on it via their social channels and giving you all this social proof and testimonials, about your, your product. And I loved you actually had a story about how you actually got some negative feedback once on your social media and your tribe stepped in.

Alistair:

Well, that’s right, being part of it, the hospitality, you know, and I think it was on the thumbs up, thumbs down. So, there’s plenty of activity happening there. And look, we occasionally get it wrong and I was very transparent that we did get that wrong. And ultimately, and as you find a lot is, I get a lot of additional people, that like to chime in and support what we do, you know, and making sure that, they make themselves well known, and look, ultimately with these sponsorships, we, doing the initial engagement and sponsor is the literally the foot in the door. It’s a way to, to get you out of the noise of the rest of the pubs. Then what ultimately happens then is you need to be able to back it up with the ground service and you know and then, it’ll be sustainable far probably beyond when the, you know, the sponsorship goes and you know, our winter sponsor, they’re still coming in at Christmas and ongoing from there.

Alistair:

And they become because there is a real authentic, engagement there from me and from our staff, you know, they just love the belonging of what we do and they feel, and that’s what we, again, when you bring it back down to when that you get some negative feedback on, on the socials, they do feel like they want to chime in because you know, they feel really part of protective of something that they’re part of, you know, and I really know tribe. Yeah, that’s right.

Jane:

That tribe mentality. So, you’ve spoken a little bit about how you choose the sponsorship opportunities that you say yes to when your approach, because let’s face small businesses and large businesses, I think every business is approached by so many people and asked whether they can be sponsored or whether they can have, you know, donations or whatever. So you go, okay, I’ll do my assessment and I’ll work out, you know, if this is something that aligns with my brand, et cetera, et cetera. If you choose that, nope, this is not going to be good for me and I don’t think it’s an alignment. Do you have any tips as to how small business owners can actually deliver that feedback, like essentially, how do you say no in this because you still want to keep your reputation. You don’t want to annoy these people. How do you do this nicely and respectfully?

Alistair:

Yeah, look and it’s an important point, you know, we don’t say no that often. You know, we do like to take on as many as we can, but clearly, you know there’s a limit. There’s a limit. We’re very transparent, you know, and that’s an important point. We ultimately let people know that we are in the community and we do a lot already and the reason limits in regards to what that might look like and look at different types of sponsorship and I get probably asked and I would dead set cause it’d be three to four times a week for vouchers or sponsorship for it might be fundraising activities. You know, Port Macquarie seems to have more fundraising than anywhere else in the world. And we do but it’s also, you know, they’re giving as well, you know, you people will love to give and these, and I’ll do as many as I can, but there are certainly some that I just have to say no to.

Alistair:

And I do really make sure that I’m transparent in regards to that, they clearly see I do other things. So then I think it’s made the being a Scrooge at all. I certainly not that I do other things, I’m very transparent. But other people that advice for other people is actually, if you do have limits, you know, create and a lot of people do this where they might create a grants program where they say, we’ve got this amount. If you want to put a tender in or you want to actually give it me a submission, go for it and I’ll make an assessment on that. That’s a bit more of a formal approach. But a lot of people do it that way.

Jane:

Yeah. There’s the framework because there’s a lot of small businesses who are by default and a lot of them don’t really understand exactly how much they’re giving, but they’re giving. And sometimes when you sit down, sometimes when I’ve sat down with clients of mine and done an audit of, you know, how many people are you sponsoring and for how much? And then what do you know? What are you getting out of it? What are they getting out of it? It can be in the tens of thousands of dollars and they don’t know because they’re kind of just giving us insight as they go along and they’re saying no too. But before you know it, you’ve racked up this much. But there’s no kind of measurement as to look, some are completely altruistic and are just doing it because that’s the community, you know, that’s their gift back to the community. But I guess it’s a missed opportunity if you’re giving tens of thousands of dollars to the community and nobody in the community knows that you’re giving that.

Alistair:

And that’s important. And that’s right. You know, and it’s, that’s what you really want to make sure that is that in engagement level, on socials and, you know, and again, back to the innovation piece, you know, it might be that you give him a truckers cap. So if they were in front of the needier or running a presentation that they got your brand on me or you know, what are some of the others? Obviously that social media one that I did where, you know, we’ve got the logo at the bottom of the Facebook page or whatever the case might be. You know, you just need to make sure you’ve got a battle plan, at all times now on what that looks like.

Jane:

Okay. Flowery. You spoke about, managing the outcomes for both parties and actively managing that sponsorship to ensure that it’s delivering to both parties. Talk me through the nitty gritty of that. Like what do you do there? Do you just have like regular meetings and make sure you know, all the things are being ticked off the list or, or how do you, how do you actively manage those sponsorships?

Alistair:

I meet with them as regularly as I can. You know, we’ve, we actually have a formal sit down, sorry, a couple of things. I hypothetically just say I’m giving someone a community group $2,000. I don’t just give them to it at the start of the season and walk away. We talked about that before I would actually break that into three or four payments and make sure that they are very much aware that, you know, there’ll be up performance-based payments throughout the year and we set goals that we set sort something achievable. We actually know if there might be events that were associated with or things that they’re going to be doing on our behalf we’re going to be doing on their behalf and you know, before the next payment we sit down and we actually physically speak and actually talk it through.

Alistair:

I’ve held payments back and sponsorship people that actually, committees have actually said, yep, that’s understandable. We’ve let you down. And it’s easier when you actually have got a pretty formal, pretty structured, agreement in place. They’d say that we’ll be doing this, you’ll be doing this, you’ll be doing this guys, you haven’t done this, haven’t seen you haven’t, we haven’t done this. You actually didn’t put our logo on the hat or whatever the case might be. It actually becomes pretty easy to work that through. And ultimately, we were very transparent with what that looks like. abut vice versa, if you know, if they’re not doing something, if we’re not doing something, I want to hear about it. And, another one that we also like to put into our agreements is an a back to the measurable.

Alistair:

It might be, you know, some, an element of bonus, you know, if we do over and above what we’ve agreed, then maybe we can look at it some additional payment and that’s a really good one for, might be used. An example of a car, where you can actually a car yard where you can actually say, look, make sure you let us know that you’re from a certain club and we’ll every, every sale that we get, we will, we’ll give the club an extra $300, $400, that makes it really tangible and measurable, you know, for a business. And you might say, you know what, we’re not going to pay it as much up front, but we’re going to create these call to action, tangible and measurable, performance based payments, on whatever it might be. Wow. That works and that works very well. And I know a lot of different, businesses, and different industries look at that way where they can actually, you know, if somebody buys something as part of this club, we will make sure we donate X to that community group. Yeah.

Jane:

Yeah. I love it. I love it. Okay. So some of the mistakes that you see businesses make when it comes to sponsorships, what are the biggest mistakes you see?

Alistair:

Oh, very much out of sight, out of mind, you know, that’s simple. You know, it’s, you’re being an associate, a business sponsoring is one thing and they, you know, and again, depending on the committee, it depends on what they do with that. But actually having yourself or others from your business engaged in that community group is paramount because you’ve not only that you’re forming relationships and these community and they actually want to do more, you know, and you know, that’s, that’s a huge one and it’s an important one. So the biggest, the biggest mistake is, you know, is, is literally not having all these parameters and literally giving them money up front and walking away. Because again, the community group may not actually be thinking anything. All of it. Yeah. But again, you’ve got, again, you’ve got to always remember a lot of these guys are volunteers. They don’t actually go that extra mile. Unless you know your going along with the ride form, you know, you sometimes got to create your own opportunities in regards to that.

Jane:

Yeah. And what about that top three tips?

Alistair:

Well, the top three it’s, very simple and it’s might be just a simple approach, you know, making sure your plan again is that community group aligned with your business? Is it the right fit? Secondly is making sure we engage, should be what we just talked about and making sure your relevance and you know, you build relationships. And the third one is innovate. You know, make sure that you’re doing other things. You know, they’re not often going to say no. If there’s something that’s going to benefit you as a sponsor and them as a club, why wouldn’t they want to try it? Or you can at least ask the question and a lot of the innovation pieces that we do, have been working really well. And if I was to give you a fourth, obviously clearly affiliate measure at the end of that as well.

Jane:

Yes. And look, I agree and we’ve, with any marketing activity, I think the measurement is sometimes the piece that people leave off. And so in that regard, what are the, some of the measurements because sure, like you’ve spoken about well bums on seats and getting people back into the pub. You’ve spoken about, you know, looking at that anecdotal social proof, you know, so where are the clubs engaging with us online and, you know, helping promote our business online. What are the metrics or measurements are you looking at or can other businesses perhaps look at to judge whether their sponsorship dollar is actually going to make a difference?

Alistair

Well, and again, back to hospitality, we’re relatively easy. It’s quite easy to measure because, you know, they actually like to come back to our venues and we’re actually taking it a step further where we’re about to, create a loyalty card. So everyone, and how is that going to be for us? You know, every time, one of the port United soccer comes in, he’s using his card and I’ll be able to say, well, I know exactly how much revenue we made through these a hundred cards that you guys have. And you know, we’ll be able to even pinpoint some Mims of teams that don’t come in just because we’ll be to say that. So we can hold, hold a lot of people accountable in regards to, well, and that’s probably taking a leaf out of the big club books, you know, I’m sure that’s that. They certainly know what people are doing and when they’re doing them. And there’ll be encouraging people to come in and use the cards and we’ll, and, and again, that’s what we’ll also reward, when we actually see, the loyalty there and we see the spend there, we’ll do something convention, make sure that we’re giving, added over the top off of that.

Jane:

But I’m assuming you’ll leave a bit of a percentage for error. So, you know, just assume that there might be three, three people on the team who might not enjoy going to pubs or whatever. Like are you planning to pay us?

Alistair:

Certainly not. And look and look, I’ve seen places that do that now. It’s not because there’s a lot of hard and fast. And again, back to when we were, in the corporate world, that’s sort of the a measurement we would have to take because we’re not there managing that relationship. And you’d have to actually do it, do it that hard and fast. I know, I get it. I’ve got a very good gut feel of, of who’s in there, who’s not there and who’s using and who’s not. You know, I incentivize these clubs. If they have a function, you know, I’ll give them, I don’t know, I give a $50 back to the club. They’d be gone. There’s a function at the venue. I know exactly who’s using and who’s not. And again you’ve got, I’ll keep probably going back to always important to make sure that you create your own destiny with innovation to make sure that your, you’re maximizing those opportunities in regards to either might be social media feeds or it might be anything else that you’re doing there.

Alistair:

And just creating some forms of call to action yes. So that it is easier and more tangible to measure. And you’re actually, you know, hand his hand is at the business. Yeah. You might, you might, and again, you might receive additional, it’s not, Hey, here’s the, you know, you might still meet wanting to do a discount or some sort of benefit for that group that you’re looking after. Don’t just think that that’s their right, that you know, that they’ll pay for top dollar for everything else. You know, you still need to be dangling elements of carrot in front of them to a call to action type promotion can really work as well. We’ve actually had sponsored saints that give us a database. Yeah. That, and that’s, and that’s, that’s nice and easy. And clearly we understand the privacy and the importance of keeping that private. But again, a lot of places don’t. So it’s not an not an easy one to do because,

Jane:

So valuable.

Alistair:

Yeah, that’s right. And, and other, that’s a sort of, certainly a, something that, some of the clubs do and others, you know, do other things. You know, other thing that I really like too is the business, you’re actually not just talking to the actual players, look at how you can actually, you know, we create business networking nights for responses. You know, if some of the bigger ones, they might have 15 to 20 sponsored teams, sorry, sorry. Sponsored businesses associated with that club where we actually, you know, try and work favourably towards them. If there’s a printer associated with a club, I’d try and do my printing there or whatever it might be. But that’s again, taking that one opportunity and all of these is handshake with the prison and on day one, but then it’s what you can do with that.

Jane:

Yeah, That is beyond the scope of what I had ever imagined. What that was involved, you know, in a community engagement and sponsorship level. And I think it’s really safe to say that, I 100% understand why you as that single person, with your five pubs has, has made such a positive impact on this region. Because like having that level of relationships and that level of commitment and generosity to local sporting communities is amazing.

Alistair:

I know, I know. And I clearly, I’m fortunate that I’ve been at restructure my business, that I’ve got very good people who are operating the business who are there. And I actually probably over-index my time in community because of, because number one, I see the value in it. And number two, you know, I like to be the front of house and let the others be the back of the house, you know? And, so I over index and I’ll do probably spend more time than others that I’ve got probably on the same breath, have probably a fair few more sponsored agreements than others as well. And so it’s important, you know, and I wouldn’t be, it wouldn’t be this excess unless we had people like myself and others within our business actually leading that. Yes,

Jane:

You’re a Republican at scale flowery, you’re not continually just sitting in the front bar, you are out in the front bar and in the community and everywhere. And on that note, if people did want to find you and have a beer with you or even get together with you online and join some of your social communities, where can people find, well

Alistair:

as you, as you rightfully said, you’ll probably find me in the front bar at one of the ups, but look we’ve got a Flower Hotel’s webs Facebook page that we’ve just launched there. And I suppose there’s an Alistair Flower on LinkedIn.

Jane:

So LinkedIn, Facebook, and Flower Hotels, did you say?

Alistair:

Yeah, that’d be, it’s probably, people obviously got the pubs had got and little shed cafe got their own individual, business pages. I’ve only just recently put them under the banner of Flower Hotel. So they’re the groups now. Yeah. So that’s the one that I’ll probably won’t start to manage more, so the rest would be fed through

Jane:

And Settler’s Inn on Facebook or Instagram Settlers Inn is probably your most renowned brand, would you say?

Alistair:

Yes, yes. And that’s our oldest brand, you know, super excited with what we can do with the other. Yeah, the local, towns like Wauchope. We bought a Porter pub in the Hastings Hotel at Wauchope and there’s such a great community there and, and you know, we’re getting some great traction. We just need to spend a bit of money on the pub to get it up to up to first grade and Lake Cathie again, it’s very vocal, local crowd with a consistent and amazing community and you know, we are very fortunate around this region that we’ve got great giving communities who really want to see businesses like ours succeed, you know, so it’s a real partnership, you know, these local pubs and the community. So we like to get on the front foot with it.

Jane:

Love it, love your work flowery. I can’t thank you enough for sharing that insight. I have sat here with bated breath listening to the way that you manage those sponsorships. It’s incredible the level of detail that you go through. And as I said, no surprises as to why you’ve made such an incredible impact in our local region. So thank you very much.

 

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