Category Archives: Sales

An Inspirational Talk

Today I had the pleasure in attending the annual National Sales Conference which was being held at the Ricoh Arena, Coventry. It was the first time I’d attended this event.

Over 500 people turned out for a jam packed day of talks, seminars and networking. There were some good topics and presenters (there were also some that weren’t as good…..sorry), but the best was definitely saved until the end.

Sir Clive Woodward spoke for just under an hour about his time as Head Coach of England Rugby when they won the World Cup. What an inspirational chap. He spoke about the DNA of Champions, and how he worked with his squad, helping them to be crowned champs. It was such a perfect way to end the day. I came away buzzed from his lasting words, and it was great to hear his tales and experiences. I just loved to hear all the positivity.

If you ever get the chance to hear him talk, my advice would be make time in your diary.

(Thanks to my buddy Butler from the Meeting Industry Association for arranging my ticket for the day).


A month of shows!

July has been a very busy month for me – working away with Pride of Britain Hotels – manning the exhibition stand at The Hampton Court & Tatton Park Flower Shows. It has certainly been fun!

Long days, and on my feet from early until late – but really rewarding to meet so many great people – both visitors to the stand and also the co-exhibitors. There was so much to see and do for visitors, and so much for everyone to spend their hard earned pennies on in the Country Living Pavillion where I was situated.

I came away with a new housey items from my friends Rimsky & Vilija at So Cosy and had a great laugh with Lauren and her team from Country Living. I couldn’t wait to get home after the show though – not only to see Kaylie (obviously!)… but also to tuck into the Cheddar and Dark Chocolate Cheese from The Truckle Cheese Company. Delicious! I can also heavily recommend the Heck Sausages too for your BBQ this year!

2015-07-22 07.57.59

It’s been a blast – and I look forward to working with the PoB Hotel members again in late August when we visit the Burghley Horse Trials to exhibit (see you there if you are attending!).

Networking & Business Growth

I celebrated my second 18th birthday this month….and looking back, how different it was to the first one all those years ago. In 1995 it involved opening numerous presents & cards, whilst the evening’s priority was of course to drink as many alcoholic drinks as possible to ensure that I remembered nothing much about the night. I think I succeeded. Eighteen years on, and now tee-total, my second 18th birthday birthday celebration was somewhat different. It involved rising at 5:30am, getting ready for a days business networking an hour away from home, followed by a quiet night in with a DVD and a pizza. How times change!

The networking event I attended was The Business Growth Show in Northampton. The clue’s in the title. Surely I was going to meet like minded people looking to network, to grow their business, and more importantly make possibly valuable new business acquaintances. Unfortunately, my birthday wish to meet these people did not come true.

The event, which is free to attend, is sponsored by exhibitors who have paid for the privilege of having a 4ft table exhibition space. It also arranged speed networking sessions for you to grab 2 mins of time with up to 15 other attendees, to see if there was a potential to do business with each other.

So how would you turn up and more importantly prepare your mind for the day ahead? Well I set myself a goal. To make contact with at least three new people that could help me or my business, or even my clients. I presented myself in a professional business-like fashion, and went in with a positive open mind. Did others do the same – I’m kind of thinking not.

It amazes me – I walked around the exhibition hall as the show opened, looking at the 25-30 stalls, their banners, their business message – and how many came out to approach me in the aisles? Only two. Others remained behind their barrier, sorry I mean table, perhaps on their phone, iPad, or just casually gazing into space. I approached one stall that I wanted to find out more about the services offered, and the lady remained seated, behind her desk, and was not going to move for anyone. Isn’t it common courtesy to stand when someone approaches your stand? Obviously not. It displayed an attitude of ‘I can’t be bothered’ – and this was at the start of the day!

I was hoping the networking element of the day would improve on what had been a poor start to the day. I made another birthday wish – ‘Give me positive minded business people, looking for new customers, with drive & energy to succeed, who genuinely want to be here’…… Not a lot to ask surely?

Well let me introduce you to the ‘networkers’ that were there. They were the ones who had come to the event without business cards; without a pen to take notes on discussions;the ones who thought that coffee & cigarette breath was better than a fresh mint smelling breath; had dressed as if they were off out walking for the day with body warmer and walking shoes; they were also the ones who had not left enough time to shave or even do their hair (which as you know takes me ages in the morning!). So just what were these here for? It all became clear when I chatted to one of the attendees…..

I attended one of the seminars on the day, and arrived 5 minutes earlier than needed. People were already in the room. About 50 seats were set up, and in true British style, everyone spread around the room, not sitting next to each other, not making eye contact, and certainly not networking – that was until I got in the room. I was there to network – and that was what I was going to do. I sat next to someone (much to their surprise), introduced myself, and began to find out about them. Before long I realised I had chosen to sit next to Mr Positivity himself…..not.

How’s business? – “Terrible, got nothing on at the moment”
Have you been to these before? – “Yes, never get anything out them though”
I explained my opinion of events & networking – it’s all about keeping your name out there and trying to make new contacts for later down the line. Of course, for me more than ever, it’s important to have a steady constant flow of business – after all I have a mortgage to pay! Something I thought the gentleman might concur with – wrong again. “I don’t have a mortgage so I guess that’s why it’s not really that important to me. I don’t have the same pressure”. He then followed up with the killer blow – “To be honest I heard there was a free lunch, so that’s why I’m staying around”.

After a couple of hours at the show, I lost complete confidence in the event, and the attendees, and decided that my time, my passion and determination could be better spent back in the office.

Do these people annoy me? In a way yes – on the other hand, I’m happy for them to carry on the way they operate and I’ll happily pick up the business contacts that don’t wish to do business with them.

It is frustrating though – basic business skills – it’s not rocket science is it? We all know ‘People buy People’. Business is about being in the Right PLACE, the Right TIME, but more importantly the Right FRAME OF MIND. For those who know me, you will know I am a positive guy, and refuse to get dragged down to the levels of others. It’s important to associate yourself with like minded individuals to ensure you get the best results.

Perhaps next year I’ll get my boss to give me my birthday off instead of working!
Thanks for reading everyone. Keep positive!

Great Hospitality is alive and kicking in the Cotswolds

Waking up on a wet & miserable Sunday morning, it would have been quite easy to stay tucked up all day, declaring a ‘duvet day’. Instead, the agenda was to take a trip from Warwickshire along the traffic-free Fosse Way into the Cotswolds for a much needed night away, and in search of the sunshine!

The advantage of living in the centre of the country is the fact that you’re not too far away from a number of very picturesque, beautiful villages, towns and popular locations.

Setting off mid morning seemed a perfect plan in order to arrive in Cotswold Country for a spot of lunch. The Manor House Hotel in Moreton in the Marsh provided the perfect location for a quality, well presented lunch, with fantastic friendly, efficient service. From the moment of arrival to leaving for our onward journey, all staff that we had contact with we’re professional, smiley, passionate about customer service and genuinely looked like they wanted to be there. What I liked most was the simplest of things, and something that is so often forgotten in hospitality today – customer interaction leading to asking customers for another drink! Well… happened in the Cotswolds – and I always oblige when someone bothers to ask the question! Gold star for getting some more money out of me.

I also liked the element of trust – again something that is sometimes amiss in today’s ever increasing untrusting world. Not once was I asked for a swipe of my card, or to pay up front for the order – and this was in a busy hotel lounge area, filled with Sunday lunch guests, village folk and potential bride & grooms attending the hotel wedding fayre on that day. Even with all of that, the hotel team, were happy to serve us our refreshments and allow me to settle the tab at the end! Thanks for the trust – it reminded me of one of many visits to Venice where the same applies. I was however a bit confused as to the reason of charging £2.55 per card transaction at the Manor House – a bit steep in my opinion, especially on a sandwich lunch bill of £20 – but it didn’t take away the feel-good factor from the visit

Leaving the ‘lunch stop’ I hoped that the same standard of service would await me at Barnsley House Hotel & Spa – a boutique luxury hotel about another half hour or so down the Fosse Way. Luckily I wasn’t disappointed. Yes, I had a certain personal expectation knowing that Barnsley House was in the Pride of Britain Hotels Consortium – a collection of superb hotels such as The Goring (you know, the one where Kate Middy stayed pre wedding), Kilworth House (yes, the one with the unique outdoor theatre) and also the 5 star Chester Grosvenor Hotel – so to be honest I expected the best!

Approaching the hotel through the village of Barnsley – automatically gave a feel of luxury and tranquility. We drove up the slight incline to the hotel entrance and found our way to the reception which is situated downstairs in the main house. We were given a familiarisation tour of the hotel by a friendly member of the team….in her wellies! This perhaps would be strange anywhere else, but not at Barnsley where a farm, fields and the countryside are all a step away. We were even offered a ‘loan pair’ of wellies if we wanted to trek out! Great idea. We were taken to our luxurious bedroom (Rm 14) – and here in my opinion is where simple things were done right.

A registration form on the desk for us to sign, so no lurking around reception, scribbling onto forms whilst trying to hold on to all of our luggage and clothes. Again no credit card details requested (quite rightly so, as I had provided these on booking). However, it is normal practice at hotels to get details again with a further swipe from you as soon as you arrive! Why? Surely this creates a question of trust.

So much to mention in the bedroom awaiting for us – a hand written welcome card from the Hotel General Manager; a quirky Do Not Disturb sign on slate; an array of local quality magazines; fresh milk for your morning cup of tea; fresh mint in the fridge for your drinks; beautiful hand crafted tied boxes to store shoe shines and toiletries; an iPod docking station; DVD player with a selection of movies; and a superb ‘Pantry’ of goodies (of which I had to sample). I especially like the individual torches attached to bedroom key fobs for when you are walking from the hotel or local village pub in the evening. It’s the little things that have been thought about to ensure guests have a memorable stay – and it’s these sort of things that cost very little, but mean so much.

The hotel are lucky to also own the Village Pub (which also has bedrooms) – a beautiful little retreat for even more relaxation and fantastic service. How surprising that without having to ask for a tour of the bedrooms, the offer from Zortan (a Hungarian bar man) was put forward within minutes of entering the pub – he is obviously very proud of where he works – and quite rightly so. He kindly showed us the standard of the rooms – the best you will probably find at a pub!

It was great to see 35+ people dining on a Sunday evening. But after sampling the menu, I understand why they were so busy – my first ever cheese soufflé, a perfectly cooked rump steak, a rhubarb crumble to die for – made even more enjoyable as it was served by a team willing to interact all evening! They knew they’d done well once I offered to buy all the team a drink. Their reaction to the offer and their gratitude was truly rewarding.

A truly superb venue that has so much to offer to its guests – beautiful gardens, a private cinema, a wonderful spa, complimentary WIFI, Sky HD in bedrooms – but to top it all, a wonderful Cotswold welcome from everyone and a continued level of excellent service throughout. The service had even started prior to the arrival via their social media sites (@Barnsley_House & @The_Village_Pub). The interaction and excitement building process was done with ease and professionalism, and this continued throughout the stay with responses to my tweets! So nice to see a venue grasping this amongst other things, and doing it well. Make sure you give them a follow!

A great find and a great recommendation by Pride of Britain Hotels.
Would I come back? – sure thing – but not before I’ve ticked off all the remaining POB properties left try (for comparison purposes, you understand!).

Well done the Cotswolds – you’re doing wonders for the British hospitality industry – Keep up the good work – and thanks also for making the sun shine!

Why not check them out & make a trip to the Cotswolds soon:

Barnsley House Hotel & Spa

A member of Pride of Britain Hotels

The Manor House Hotel, Moreton in the Marsh

Thanks for reading.

The Importance of a Team

Just under 12 months ago I took the plunge and set up my own Company – MAUN Consulting Limited – offering valuable support and advice to business owners, to help them ‘Develop the Potential’ in their organisations. I had come from a background of hospitality – working in some luxurious hotels in the UK with some great teams. My final position in the ‘trade’ was as General Manager in Staffordshire working with a team of about 120. I had people within I could call and count upon when I needed assistance with the day to day tasks – serving the customers, preparing for shifts, to do the accounts, and with hotel maintenance. It was so important to work together – to multi skill – and to be there for one another.

So setting up by myself – how would I cope!?

Sure it was a change – I have had to become a secretary, an accountant, a sales man, a telephonist, a marketer, a presenter, an on the road sales man all-in-one – but I still believe that I am part of a much larger team even when i sit in the office by myself – A team that is a very special one. A team of people that I have worked with, have recommended, and have the pleasure of meeting through my career – my advocates, my advisers, and above all my friends.
I live by my life remembering a key phrase – “People don’t care how much you know, until they know how much you care”. I treat all my business friends (my team) as I would like to be treated – with respect and with honesty. Together we work helping each other along the way in our businesses – be them one-man-bands like myself or for multi employer companies. But with the knowledge that the ‘team’ are there to support me (and vice versa), to offer advice, and to look out for me, takes away the feeling of being a small fish in a big pond, and makes you feel that you can tackle any situation that arises in your business.

I am very lucky to have made such wonderful friendships throughout my career with people that are so passionate and positive about life & work in general. Positivity breeds positivity. I now have the option to choose who I want to be in my select ‘team’ and together we can all achieve our personal goals.

It’s important to remember that it’s not all about work – there has to be a pleasurable get together ‘off duty’ too – but hey, that’s not difficult to spend an evening with a special ‘team ‘of people that share the same ethics and beliefs in life.

In summary – If you think you can do it alone in any business, you can’t. You need a team and support structure around you to make it happen. No matter how large or small your company is, make sure you invest one main thing into your team – TIME. If your team feel good about themselves then they will produce good result. Simples.
Thanks for reading.

Stuart Maun
MAUN Consulting Limited
Developing the Potential
Find me on Twitter @MAUNConsulting
Connect with Me on LinkedIn
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07540 124396

Are you Linking In?

Whether you are a business owner or an employee of a national/international company, in my opinion it is imperative in today’s tough climate to keep in touch with those around you. One simple way that this can be done is through the utilisation of LinkedIn. If you have already taken the initiative and set up a personal profile, then you are probably someone who immediately sees the benefit of keeping in touch with your colleagues, industry suppliers, customers and potential clients via this source. If you haven’t done anything about it, but you keep receiving emails from people inviting you to join, then don’t you think it’s about time to take some action?

Linked In is a business related social networking site – aimed at B2B networking, where professional business relationships are forged. Since 2003, Linked In has attracted over 120 million users to its site – and why wouldn’t they join – it’s quick and easy and FREE to register! Sure, it currently doesn’t have the numbers that Facebook (800m) or Twitter (200m) have, but the members (or connections) utilise the facility to keep in close contact with others whom they have some level of relationship with or common ground. It is a great way to keep in touch with people you have worked with, people you have met at networking events, and from friends who may to have exciting business connections with you. It’s a place where business can be done!

Some great features are provided – You can invite people to join your network, even if they do not have a profile created. A personalised invitation is sent to your connection and they can start from scratch. Setting a basic profile up (to a standard that looks acceptable) may take only 30 minutes. It reads like a C.V. for you on line – but above all lets people know why they should do business with you. This comes with help from the business recommendations from current or past customers or colleagues that may have used you or your company. 

You can utilise your current acquaintances to get introduced to people you want to do business with, and because an intro will come via a ‘trusted source’ then it will help your chances of meeting with your potential next business contact. I am sure you are all aware of the six degrees of separation – well the same rule applies with Linked In. When you start using it on a more frequent basis, you will notice who you have common connections with, and also who your friends know, that you would like to know!

So should you scrap all other social networking sites and solely concentrate on Linked In? – If you were hoping the answer was going to be yes, I’m afraid you will be disappointed. Linked In is simply another channel to get your message out there to people who may need to know. So yes, it does mean a little more time and commitment from yourself and some more management of another social network site – but one that could dramatically pay off.

In 2009, I was re-acquainted on Linked In to an industry friend of 15 years, who read my profile, saw a potential way in which we could work together, and subsequently employed me as General Manager of a Hotel – all because of his knowledge of me – and reading my ambitions on Linked In ‘to become a GM of a small luxury hotel’. So, does it work – In my opinion without a doubt – especially if you put time and effort in to it. Sorry to use a cliché – But you ‘Get out of it, what you put in to it’.

Some basic tips to help you on your way:

  • Make sure you upload a suitable photo (business orientated)
  • Update all the Information on your profile – Giving details of business address, contact details and home page of the business website.
  • Put details of any Facebook & Twitter profiles to cross promote.
  • Add LinkedIn buttons to your website, your email footers and also your marketing materials to maximise exposure.

In summary, make time for this essential marketing tool in today’s busy and hectic world. With the increase of handheld gadgets available (iPhones, iPads, Blackberry’s, HTC’s) people have access to their emails and Linked In 24 hours a day. This gives businesses a wonderful opportunity in keeping up to date with the ‘going-ons’ in the business world. As per the other social media sites, this is not something that can be done half-heartedly. Allocate the time in order to make Linked In successful for you and your business.

Thanks for reading.

Article written by Stuart Maun, MAUN Consulting Limited – offering support and advice to business owners allowing them to ‘Developing the Potential’ in their businesses with the use of effective and efficient sales and marketing systems and procedures.


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Connect with me on Linked In – Stuart Maun

Find me on Twitter – @MAUNConsulting

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Epic Fails

The panic is over everyone – I have strong evidence today that the hard economic times & business decline that has certainly been experienced in the hospitality industry over the last 12-18 months is most certainly a thing of the past. For one particular hotel brand, it must be seeing such growth on their top line sales & profits, they no longer see the need to fiercely fight to keep customers or even take cash from them!
So, how did I come to this conclusion I hear you ask? Well, it all became clear to me whilst I sat waiting to meet with a business associate in a hotel lounge in Solihull this afternoon. Now if you’re an honest kind of person, you’ll probably admit that the economy has certainly not recovered and it is as still as hard as ever to attract new business, to keep business, and every sale counts to your daily business survival. However today I witnessed hotel staff displaying actions that would send company owner’s blood boiling!
On arrival I had no worries of trying to find a vacant seat in the hotel coffee lounge – in fact there was plenty to choose from. No noise from business delegates, no screaming kids enjoying the last days of freedom before being returned to a life of education next week – the lounge was pretty deserted, as was there large bar attached to the hotel. Customers seemed far and few between, even with their prime location on a very busy main ‘A’ road.
The bar/servery in the lounge was unmanned on arrival, so I just took a seat in the corner and browsed the drinks menu that was prominently placed on all tables. Whilst I was thinking whether I should go for a skinny, mocha-chocca Americano latte with double cream (you get my drift) or a standard cup of tea, the menus were swiftly taken away from the tables from someone who I will refer to as ‘Claire’ (as that was her name!) – and someone in my opinion who should NEVER have been allowed to work in hospitality!
Remember I was sitting in a public COFFEE LOUNGE (as signposted) in a HOTEL (which as far as I am aware offer refreshments 24 hours a day in this country). So why when I and 2 other customers who arrived asked for a coffee, were we delivered a very stern, surprising and rude response of “Sorry we are closed in here”. ‘Claire’ had obviously had an extremely bad day – for whatever reason – but it was evident that she knew where she wanted to be, and what she wanted to be doing – and that was NOT AT THE HOTEL SERVING CUSTOMERS. She bluntly told me that I could order from her round the corner at the Bar and that I would “Need to pay straight away”. I admit, I’m bald and therefore look like a bit like a Mitchell Brother (in a smart suit), so fair enough for not trusting me (although there are ways to perhaps go about these things!).
Now not to bore you anymore with further conversations and comments from ‘Claire’– All I can say is that not at any stage were guests made to feel respected or wanted at the hotel – Now I don’t expect red carpet treatment – just a simple, courteous welcome, and pleasant service. I decided to tweet to the Hotel Twitter Account to let them know things perhaps weren’t as they would expect in their Lounge – but unfortunately received no reply from this – Twitter and Social Media Sites are there for INTERACTION with your customers, suppliers and potential clients – So why ignore messages? #EpicFail
Three Coffees later, it was time to leave – so I went to settle the bill (as I was eventually trusted with a tab in the end). Our friend ‘Claire’ was nowhere to be seen – and so her colleague was there to serve me. I stated everything we had drunk, but unfortunately nothing had been rung in the till – so there was no record – and because the particular bar had been closed – the till had been cashed up! I was calmly told not to worry about it – and the coffees were on the house – and so we left without paying a penny! #EpicFail2 HOW, HOW, HOW is this possible!!?? I cannot believe ANY company can afford to do this nowadays? I am still amazed.
So, to the questions that need to be asked?
How many ‘Claire’s’ do you have in your business?
Can you really afford to continue employing a ‘Claire’ in your business, to damage your brand, lose legitimate customers & miss out on daily takings?
Can you afford not to respond to your customers when they interact with you on social media?
Time to think – Perhaps time to send on someone undercover to see what is really happening at your business. You might be surprised at basic fails in your daily business.
Thanks for reading.