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Listening is fundamental to the ultimate pub refurbishment

When working on The Thatched Tavern project, we were impressed by the vision and purpose expressed by the new owners, the Lyndon family. Their son, Stephen, and his team had never run a pub before, so they were learning what they needed to do from scratch. Luckily, the owner, Stephen is really thorough, perhaps coming from his naval background, and he is very methodical and simple does not make mistakes. The project didn’t cut corners and we have a lot of respect for him for that. We listened to what they wanted, took on board and it’s been incredibly successful.

Why effective listening is essential to a great refurbishment project

Listening helps with building relationships, solving problems, ensuring understanding, solving conflicts, and assuring quality in your refurbishment. Effective listening when taking your client brief and scoping your refurbishment project will result in fewer costly errors and less wasted time. This increases the likelihood that you will finish your project on time and in budget.

The Thatchd Tavern

Understanding your pub refurbishment brief

In a commercial sense, we’ll ask new clients about the type of offer that they’re putting together, and for their ideas. In a pub environment, it’s common to ask if the premises is “wet-led”, essentially a bar, or is it food-led with a restaurant refurbishment. Is there anyone they are trying to benchmark against, or learn from, or inspired what they do? From these initial discussions, we listen carefully to build a picture of what the client wants and needs.

Listen to learn about your clients’ experiences

You need to listen to clients to understand their vision and their ambitions, and also to understand their level of experience with pub refurbishment (and ownership) and learn what skills they bring to the table. If you listen, you will find that in some instances they may have a lot more experience and business ideas that you might not be aware of.

Listening allows you to grow your own experience and knowledge

I’ve had hundreds of conversations with different clients over the years. You pick up a little bit of something from everybody, and you’re able to share that best practice with your new clients.

Mark Green, Fruition

By listening, you can learn from other people’s mistakes and other people’s experience about what to do and what not to do. When you speak to a publican with decades of experience, you listen, because they will share their insights and information with you – picking up all the good and bad bits listening to their examples.

Sharing best practice from other customers

One of the important things that we bring to the table with 20 years of experience in pub refurbishment is the ability to recall those important conversations, bringing that shared best practice and years of pub refurbishment experience with us.

The Thatchd Tavern
The Thatched Tavern

Every project is different, and listening is essential

Restaurant and pub refurbishment varies from simple changes with larger complex and extensive work involved, and you need to listen to your client to understand the scope of each project.

Most refurbishment projects will face opportunities and challenges as restaurant owners compete in the market on their pub and dining experience, and interior design is a huge component of that experience. The aim is to attract new customers as well as appeal to their loyal base, so listening to the client and their customers is essential to strike that balance and solve for our clients.

We are confident in this pub and continue to improve our spaces and food offering. Over the next year, we will continue to invest in better ways of working efficiently, and in partnership with our suppliers.

Stephen Naylor, Owner, The Thatched Tavern, Maidencombe

Listening is central to The Thatched Tavern project

Stephen wanted to attract people back to pub, when they hadn’t been for quite some time, but heard through word of mouth that the pub previously had a poor reputation. Looking through the reviews on TripAdvisor reviews, the decline was obvious and that trend is now reversed!

A blank canvas with a vision

Stephen could see the potential in The Thatched Tavern, and because there was so much work needed for the refurbishment, it was essentially a blank canvas.

We listened to Stephen’s ambitions for this blank canvas, identifying areas for optimising the customer journey . For example, when walking from the pub into the restaurant, and it was like you’d walk into a completely different building and the whole premises was never properly designed, it was chopped together.

The Thatched Tavern
The Thatched Tavern

Top tips on listening to your client

Listen first, talk second
This is an important rule to follow. When you are listening carefully and taking notes on your client’s instructions or requirements for their pub refurbishment project it will help you avoid the risk of miscommunication later on in the process. If there are any questions about what they’re looking for, don’t be afraid to ask them, but try to do it in a way that doesn’t interrupt the flow of their ideas.

You can never be too prepared

You should take notes on everything that you talk about with your client, including the time and date of your conversation. If there is anything specific, they mention in their instructions or requirements for their pub refurbishment, write it down so you don’t forget to ask them later on. You might also want to leave some room in your notes to jot down any questions you may have about what they’re looking for, or ideas that occur to you as the client speaks.

Write it up

You should aim for both sides (your client and your team) to feel heard and understood by each other, so encourage them to take part in this process – we find doing an exercise where we write up bullet points with key priorities on post-it notes creates a sense of ownership and buy-in to the process.

Writing up our notes is important for us, as we go back and reference these when planning out restaurant refurbishment project, allowing ourselves to remain open minded about new ideas that may come up along the way. We also find it helpful to share our notes with the rest of our team after we’ve had a meeting, so that everyone is on the same page and can contribute to planning out restaurant refurbishment project.

Listening to create a mood

You can also take photos of some of their inspiration items if it’s appropriate and relevant. Your clients will appreciate how seriously you are taking them, and you’ll be able to frame your conversation around creating a mood board which you can share with them after the meeting.

Listening helps you deliver high quality refurbishment projects

These are just some top tips for how your design business can improve your listening skills. We hope they help you make those important connections with clients in ways help improve your pub refurbishment brief, scope and ultimately, the finished project. The tips will help you avoid any problems or miscommunication later on in the project – we’ve seen it happen before!

Your clients will feel heard

When your clients feel like their requirements have been listened to, and that what they want is being communicated clearly at every step of their pub refurbishment, your client will be confident that their project is in good hands.

We saw the potential for this pub. The location was amazing, but the pub was unloved. It just needed someone to come, and one have a bit of vision of what it could be for us, for the community, and for our customers. Fruition listened to our vision, and they delivered.

Stephen Naylor, Owner, The Thatched Tavern.