Spotlight Series: Michael Ternes from Harbord Beach Hotel

We know there’s so much gloom out there — coronavirus has hit hospitality hard. But there’s lots to feel inspired by too. In our new ‘spotlight series’ we will share inspirational stories from hospitality businesses who are pivoting and putting up a great fight to stay in business; and to continue connecting and serving their community.

In this week’s interview we chat with Harbord Beach Hotel’s General Manager, Michael Ternes.

FINDING AN OPPORTUNITY IN THE CRISIS

MLF: WHAT HAVE YOU BEEN DOING TO GET THROUGH THE COVID-19 CRISIS? 

Michael Ternes: “We launched click and collect, and home delivery about 6 weeks ago. With COVID-19 impacting the industry, we decided to think outside the box and follow trends that consumers were leaning towards.”

MLF: HOW DID YOU ADAPT SO QUICKLY TO GET ONLINE ORDERS AND DELIVERY UP AND RUNNING?

Michael Ternes: “We decided to use the Shopify platform, which is very efficient and user friendly. With only a few easy steps we were live. It has its own landing page being HarbordAtHome.com.au that integrates with our existing platforms, which was extremely beneficial. We highly recommend it.”

MLF: WHAT’S BEEN THE BIGGEST HURDLE YOU HAD TO OVERCOME DURING THE PIVOT PROCESS? 

Michael Ternes: “Adapting operationally, as it was unknown territory for us. It was very much a best-guess approach as we just didn’t know what we were in for. Thankfully, we figured it out pretty quickly and it’s now just part of our everyday operations.”

MLF: HOW SUCCESSFUL HAS CLICK AND COLLECT AND DELIVERIES BEEN? 

Michael Ternes: “When we launched we saw some good traction and interest in the offering, with more towards home delivery. At the time of launching people didn’t want to leave their homes as it was the peak of the isolation precautions, so delivery to your door was very appealing to our patrons.

As time has gone on, and with rules relaxing, we’re now seeing a lot more people wanting to drive through and say hello just to get out of the house! Our drive-through bottle shop is efficient, so it’s a quick in and out experience already, so click and collect hasn’t seen as big a hit. Where we have seen great benefits is using the platform for pre-ordering on promotions or new release offerings with limited stock.”

COMMUNITY CONNECTIONS

MLF: HARBORD BEACH HOTEL HAS BEEN PART OF THE FRESHWATER COMMUNITY FOR 92 YEARS. HOW HAS THE COMMUNITY RALLIED BEHIND YOU GUYS AND SUPPORTED YOU DURING THIS TIME?

Michael Ternes: “As a local community hub, we’ve had plenty of familiar faces come and support us through these tough times. We extended our offering to include cook at home food items, which has seen lots of people choosing to shop with us rather than their normal supermarkets. We’ve been using the produce from our suppliers via My Local Foodie. We’ve also seen lots of local businesses and platforms promote us and there’s been a growing trend of people getting behind what is locally owned, which we’re very thankful for.”

MLF: CAN YOU TELL US ANYTHING ABOUT YOUR RENOVATIONS AND WHAT YOU’RE PLANNING TO DO?

Michael Ternes: “At this stage, we’re still going through the process, so there isn’t too much I can reveal or give away. We’re using the time wisely to plan and prepare for when the time comes, which we are hoping is sooner rather than later. As we’re a heritage-listed venue, there are a few additional hurdles we need to jump before we can get going. Whatever we do, it is our intent to remain true to being a local pub.”

WORDS OF WISDOM

MLF: WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO OTHER VENUES WHO ARE CONSIDERING SETTING UP ONLINE TRADING AND HOME DELIVERY FOR THE FIRST TIME?

Michael Ternes: “Adding a new arm and revenue stream to your business for next to no expense, is well worth it. The only real cost in getting the online trading platform up and running (besides Shopify’s very low monthly subscription) is time, which we all have at the moment.

We’re also fortunate to have employees working in the bottle shop and on JobKeeper, which we can use to do tasks like home delivery.”

MLF: WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE OTHER ESTABLISHMENTS WHO ARE THINKING OF USING THE LOCKDOWN AS A GOOD TIME TO RENOVATE?

Michael Ternes: “Renovating any venue usually means closing the doors for a particular amount of time. As we’re currently being forced to do this, we thought now would be the perfect time to start the reno process. With restrictions looking likely to continue for pubs and clubs in the short term, and then ease off to social distancing being 1 per 4 meters squared, trading patterns are not likely to return to normal anytime soon. Coming into the winter months, where trade naturally decreases to its lowest, trading at this time of the year is hard enough. Throw restrictions on capacity in the mix affecting sales, in a lot of cases venues will be operating at a loss. So, if there’s ever a time it’s now.”

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