Quickfire with Tarnia Robertson, MD, Ufford Park Woodbridge

Quickfire with Tarnia Robertson, MD, Ufford Park Woodbridge

We spent five minutes with Tarnia and asked her some questions about running a business.

How do I engage and motivate employees and keep them? We carry out regular staff engagement surveys and hold monthly continuous performance meetings to encourage communication. We also reward staff with vouchers, performance related pay and regular recognition.

How do I maintain and enhance margins? Always difficult when costs are going up. The best way is to increase revenue, so we’re always looking out for new initiatives to upsell, bring in new business and retain our existing customers.

How can I put my prices up and keep my customers? Not an easy thing to do as you still have to remain competitive. Prices can go up provided the customer still thinks you are offering value for money, or you are offering something different or unique.

I’ve got this great idea – what do I do with it? Talk to your peers first as they are likely to come up with questions you had not thought about. If it still seems a great idea, then work out how you can implement it.

How do I protect my reputation and enhance it? Look after your loyal customers – they are the ones who give you the reputation in the first place. Work hard at being consistent with your product and customer service, but most importantly make sure you have the right staff with the right attitude. Respond to all reviews – this helps enhance it and get support from PR companies who specialise in building reputation and brand.

What can I do about competitors who have an unfair advantage e.g. Amazon? Not much, it’s just part of running a business. Every type of company has unfair competition e.g. Hotels Vs Airbnb, Taxis Vs Uber. The only thing you can do is build customer loyalty and give them a reason to come directly to you. This is normally down to your staff and customer service.

How to network to my advantage? Be selective in what invitations you accept. Perhaps spread the load with colleagues, but whatever you do, get out there and be seen!

How can I manage the work / life balance more effectively? This in my opinion is a choice. We are all busy, but if you don’t plan some ‘me time’ you will never find it! So, stop feeling guilty about not working 24/7 and make sure you have some time to yourself every week to read, exercise or go on holiday. If you don’t, the stress of everyday life will catch up with you and if you are ill you are no good to anyone!

How do I cut my overheads and outgoings without negatively impacting my business? Work smarter. Save energy where you can, cut down on waste, have more multiskilled staff and introduce job sharing. New ideas often come from brainstorming so see what ideas your staff come up with!

How can I move my business to the next step, stop working in the business and free up more time to work on the business? The key here is to plan it. Have a goal and set a date when you would like to achieve it and then put things in place to make it happen. It is never too early to look at succession planning. Put time in your diary on a daily or weekly basis when you have time to think. It’s probably good to get out of the office to do this so there are no interruptions. It is not a waste of time; it is critical to your business. Also, look out for coaching companies who can help.

Tarnia Robertson is Managing Director at Ufford Park Woodbridge Hotel Golf and Spa, an independently owned family business with a Quality in Tourism 3-star Silver accreditation. Uffordpark.co.uk

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