Skip to content

Entrepreneurs Panel

Richard O'Sullivan
Brian Hay
Steve Purdham
Michael Oliver
Jeremy Roberts
Jennie Johnson
Julie Meyer
Charlie Mullins
David Pollock
Tony Caldeira
Laura Tenison
Debbie Pierce

Loyalty scheme

Richard O'Sullivan

Founded Millie’s Cookies in 1985 and went on to sell the Bury-based chain to catering giant Compass in 2003 for £24 million. In 2007 he signed an agreement with Boost Juice Bars – an Australian-based juice chain – to operate its UK outlets. The tenth Boost unit opened in the UK in Bristol in June 2009. O’Sullivan has been chairman of the Liverpool bar chain Baa Bar since 2006 and the Mexican food chain Barburrito since October 2008.

Question: 

I run a small chain of restaurants but business has been pretty slow since Christmas, so I was thinking about starting some sort of loyalty scheme. I’m worried, though, that it will make my competitors think I can’t cut the mustard. What should I do?

Answer: 

I suspect you are unnecessarily concerned about your competitors; they are quite likely up against it also. If you don’t have an existing customer “loyalty scheme” you are losing out on many opportunities to build better communications and loyalty with the lifeblood of your business.

In this digital era great loyalty schemes are managed online, with huge potential for building onto your existing business. Most great brands will use loyalty schemes to help with retaining their customers.

Repeat business is hugely important to our success. Our VIBE Club Card at Boost Juice Bars has a global following of millions and is one of our most valuable communications, sales and marketing tools.

Businesses like Groupon. com are flying in the States and gaining traction over here. My only advice would be to constantly trial different ideas and to avoid becoming too entrenched in this form of marketing.

Consistently providing great quality, service, cleanliness and value for money are the enduring qualities of any successful catering business.

  • Kathryn Parsons, co-founder of Decoded, started with little more than faith and determination, but four years later it’s grown into a global business. Ahead of her appearance at Accelerate 2015 in...

  • Author, writer and marketer Ryan Holiday on how entrepreneurs need to interpret failure.

  • Sue Vizard, business coach and author of Jump Start: The Start-up Book for Your Dream Business, looks at some of the questions solo entrepreneurs should ask themselves.

  • Ian Wright, founder and chief executive of NonExecutiveDirectors.com, is bringing together SMEs and NEDs - without the hefty recruitment fees.

  • Former professional golfer turned entrepreneur Colin Stevens has had a busy 18 months. The Better Bathrooms founder has increased turnover at the firm, secured a multi-million pound investment and...

Five Minutes With

David Hughes sums up his entrepreneurial career to date thus: four spectacular successes and two failures. He founded the sports retailer Allsports and achieved turnover of £180 million before a vicious price war meant decline, administration in 2005 and a sell-off to rival JD Sports.

It took Richard Shonn, managing director of 151 Products, three years to find a warehouse big enough for his requirements.