Nick Lloyd has had a long and illustrious career in hospitality; from managing Hotels and Resorts, to Clubs. Nick has run some of Perth's most iconic venues. Awarded the WA Australian Hotels Association Award for Best Venue Manager in 2016, Nick shares with us his thoughts on leadership and learning, the state of the Perth Market and what it takes to run a successful venue in today's market.
Leadership and learning
What are the most important traits that every leader should possess?
I believe there are several traits that any great manager should have, starting with confidence in yourself! If you don’t believe you can do the job, your team never will either. You need to have patience, a passion for the industry and invest time training your team every chance that you get. I believe you should always deliver positive reinforcement when it’s earned and provide constant feedback on performance. You must celebrate success with the team, be an effective communicator and let everyone know what it is we are going to achieve (both short and long term). I think you have to be a ‘solutions’ leader and not a reactor. You are better to enable growth and insight from a situation than to explode and miss the nuances. You must be personable and know how to get through to your team; make them feel the best version of themselves that they can be. Ensure everyone is accountable. Last but not least, you should pass on your wisdom and experience to your team every opportunity you get - the more they know, the better they will be!
Who has been most influential in your career; and why?
I think the two most influential people throughout my twenty-four year hospitality career would have to be Tim Osborne (the current State Manager of ALH) and Donna Quinn (my previous state manager at another company). The philosophy of both leaders is one of empowerment. They ignite in you a passion that makes you want to work towards being the greatest leader you can possibly be. Their level of integrity remains unchallenged in all situations and they inspire you to reach for and achieve a greater vision. They are focused leaders; you can tell that they are absolutely passionate about their job!
How do you stay relevant and current in your knowledge?
I stay current by watching my competitors. I am interested in knowing what leading venues do? I really enjoy networking, talking to other industry operators and my peers.
I read up on the ‘trends’ and always spend time searching for honest information and feedback on what the consumer really wants. Each year our market changes as the next generation comes of age and other consumer demographics and perceptions shift. It’s important to remain relevant and in tune with your current consumer market; you have to understand what it is that makes them tick.
Moments in time
What are the two most pivotal moments in your career that you either learned from or got you where you are today?
My first would be 10 years ago when I was appointed General Manager of the Ocean Beach Hotel in Cottesloe. At the time this iconic venue turned over $560k a week in food, beverage, bottleshop and accommodation sales. It employed 160 people and had a team of 12 managers. The venue and its managers were well supported by the breweries and its suppliers. This position afforded me my first introduction at managing an incredibly successful venue. I learned that training people properly is the only way you can sustain, improve and run such a large operation.
My second pivotal moment was caretaking the Operations Manager position with ALH on 3 occasions. Looking after 14 hotels certainly opened my eyes to a bigger picture. I learned that time management and organisational skills are critical; or you drown. Tim certainly demonstrated the power of asking probing questions to encourage someone to think about a situation more closely and explore. I will take this leadership approach into other scenarios that’s for sure.
Tell me about a time when things didn’t go to plan. How did you fix it? What did you learn?
That’s a difficult one to answer, as everything I do is very well thought out and planned! If I had to give you an answer, I would tell you a tale of a UFC event that horribly under performed. But because I am a gentleman, I will let bygones-be-bygones and just say that the lesson afforded was that you only get one shot! Make sure that your planning is spectacular if you are not going to be rostered on!
Creativity, innovation and motivation
How do you encourage creative thinking within your organisation?
I encourage creative thinking by adopting an open door policy. I let all my team know that ‘no idea is a silly one’. I find employees today, (perhaps it’s a generational thing), are more forward in sharing with you their opinions and ideas. I often find myself laughing, as in my day, I would never have dreamed of approaching my venue manager in the same way! It’s great to know that boundaries have changed through a willingness to discuss everything openly and a mindset that feedback and discussion generate tremendous ideas.
Innovation is critical for a business to thrive, how do you innovate so successfully?
Carefully - thought out - research. I look at something and ask; how can I do that better? I put pen to paper, consider it thoroughly, ask a lot questions, and then leave it to trial and error!
How do you motivate your team to deliver an exceptional experience?
Definitely lead by example, set the bar high and hold everyone, including myself, accountable for their actions! You have to love your job and workplace, a happy place is a productive place.
Your thoughts on Perth’s hospitality market
You have been exceptionally successful in hospitality, what’s your advice to someone contemplating starting their own venture?
Work hard, have a goal and stick to the plan. Listen to all advice given and never be afraid to ask questions if you don’t know the answer! Educate yourself and keep learning where ever you can! Keep challenged; don’t let disappointment defeat you; keep driving till you reach your end goal. And finally, never stop asking questions!!!!!
What’s your current perception of the Perth hospitality market? Where do you see its future direction?
It’s tough out there! I think for the first time WA is now feeling the effects of the mining downturn and a tougher economy. In saying that there is still plenty of market share to capture if you want to. You have to be a ‘go getter’ and take risks; but above all listen, listen to what your customers are saying!
I always keep a close eye on the trends happening in Melbourne. I believe WA trends mirror quite closely those of Melbourne. We have innovative operators who are always searching to ensure that they are delivering on trend. It’s great to see the suburban pub back in style; I believe it will remain everyone’s favourite meeting place for at least the next five years. Operators have clearly been listening and I love that the consumer is smarter! They keep us on our toes as we search to deliver offerings and exceed their service expectations.
What’s the key to making profit in this market?
Leading from the front, being with the team on the floor and watching everything. Of course you have to be smart with your spending! Believe in and deliver on your brand: cold beer, delicious food and great service!
I treat every dollar I spend within the venue as if it is my own money and you gotta love keeping money! For that reason, I work hard to keep it!
What’s the most common service mistake you encounter in Perth venues?
Not understanding who their clientele are; lack of staff training, no ambience or experience, and just not giving a damn about why they are there in the first place! I’m so critical when I go out (my wife hates it), I must admit I often find myself sitting back and laughing, wondering ‘How they can get it just so wrong….?’
How do you start and end your day?
I start my day very quietly; I get up early whilst the family is still asleep. I like to spend time reflecting on what I need to prioritise for the day. I then walk to work, hitting the ground running as soon as I arrive.
I cherish my evening routine. Evenings are for my daughter and my wife. I spend valuable time playing (even when I’m tired); I clean the house, and put the little one to bed. Then its together time with the wife and a quick reflection on the day’s achievements and what lies ahead for tomorrow. If I’m lucky and not in detention, I may just get to watch that sport I sneakily pre-recorded!
Are you coffee or tea?
Neither really; I might have two coffees a year if I’m lucky! I drink sparkling water like it’s going out of fashion!
Drink of choice?
Bourbon; I love my bourbon!
Describe your perfect day off
Anything that includes spending it with my wife and my three and a half year old daughter! They are two of the most amazing women that I know! If that’s not perfect enough, it may include sitting down at the end of the day with a quality bourbon; reflecting on the day that’s just gone.
What's the most exciting thing you have done over the past year?
Nothing really in the last year, my life has consisted of family and work! But 4 years ago I went to America for a month and married my wife in Las Vegas! We certainly had an amazing time!
What’s left on your bucket list that you are dying to do?
Win the lotto!!!!
The award winning Greenwood Hotel
We hope you enjoyed the time we spent with Nick hearing his thoughts and strategies on leadership and the state of the Perth hospitality market; if you loved the article be sure to hit ❤ and share, so that your friends can enjoy it to! Better still........leave us a comment below!