AUTHOR: MIKE PALMER, LUCKY BEACH
Providing a plan for our purpose
Back in 2016 we had a number of initiatives going on, including raising money to build a school in Africa for example and reviewing all of our sourcing. What we didn’t have was a structure for any of it. We wanted to give the business a purpose and really needed a framework to build it around. That was why we joined the SRA. Its sustainability framework was super helpful, giving us a great focus for what we wanted to do as a business.
There are also two common misconceptions about running a restaurant sustainably – that it’s going to be difficult and more expensive. In our experience it’s neither. As an example, the meat we’re now sourcing is cheaper – even though it’s organic. And using the SRA’s framework makes sustainability very manageable, breaking it up into bitesize chunks.
Sustainable means sustainable in every way
Since we gave the business a purpose and joined the SRA it’s had an incredible effect on both our recruitment and retention of high quality, engaged staff. It really has helped us attract the best applicants. People read and hear about what we’re doing, and they choose to come and work here rather than for another operator in the city. I would say now that every single person who applies to work for us talks about it, about our purpose and sustainability. All our 50-60 strong team is engaged. We’ve also introduced a sustainability module into the induction and that helps people to understand our approach and gets them to think differently. It just makes sense that you’d want to work for a company that shared the same priorities as you.
Including both staff and customers in this is really important. That means we’re talking much more about what we’re doing. Telling people about our Three Star Food Made Good sustainability rating is part of that. It’s now on all our menus and we’re getting more vocal about it all the time.
In the same way as our staff want to work for us, customers come and eat with us because they like knowing a business shares their priorities. Even if it’s not their primary motivation, it’s definitely reassuring – especially for the younger guests. We want people to choose us because the food tastes great and there’s a fabulous atmosphere and increasingly, as we plaster our three stars everywhere that we’re really sustainable, that’s proving to be a factor too.
Sustainability – the mother of innovation
Our aim is to be a successful, small, sustainable business and that means it affects every single decision we take. When we’re looking for a new supplier, one of the first questions we’ll ask them is about their packaging. It’s encouraged the whole team to think about things in a different way and we incentivise them to do that, with rewards like a night out or a bottle of wine. The more you work like this the more entrenched the approach becomes and then it’s just second nature. We’ve now reached the point where a Three Star Food Made Good rating is non-negotiable and the whole team are invested in that.