Flemming Hansen, from PSD’s Board
Practice talks to Toby Smith, CEO of Novus Leisure about the “Customer
Dashboard”, the ambitions he has for the business, London’s night-time economy
and Sadiq Khan’s Night Tsar.
Novus Leisure is the market leader in
the London late night scene, with 42 unique bars, restaurants and late night
experiences in London's most desirable postcodes. Can you give us an insight
into how you ensure you stay ahead of the competition, your ambitions for Novus
Leisure and any plans that you may have to expand internationally?
We have three main business levers: we invest in developing our people, our
bars, clubs and restaurants and listening to our customers. The three levers are
equally important for us to be successful. We are a London-centric business with
over 90% of our estate in Zone One. This is set to continue and we would like to
add further to our London presence where we believe our operating knowledge and
economy of scale give us a competitive advantage. We have so much we want to do
with our current estate. The London market offers significant growth
opportunities and so we are very focussed on our home town.
are reviving brands such as Balls Brothers to enable more scale for the
business. Can you tell us more about this revival and in other parts
Balls Brothers has been a city institution for over
150 years and we are very fortunate to have the brand within our portfolio. Due
to redevelopment of office accommodation in the city we had lost a number of
sites back to landlords and needed to decide to either develop and grow the
brand or remove it. Our team in Balls Brothers are very passionate about their
brand so in the end it was an easy decision to invest behind both the brand and
them as a team. We create Balls Brothers Emporium in the summer of 2015 which is
an evolution of the offer but still retains its charm and heritage, the new
offer is very much a drinks emporium and whilst we still have a 74 bin wine list
we also now offer a wide range of spirits, long drinks and imperial
This change to the business has been a resounding success and
we have recently converted further sites to the brand. We would love to add more
sites to our portfolio in the future.
You continue to invest in
“the Customer Dashboard”, a tool you have developed since you began your tenure
with Novus. Digital Marketing is a business need for all companies, but this
platform offers more.
Yes, the platform gives our customers 'a
voice' within our business in real time. We amalgamate content from social
mediums: Facebook, Twitter & Instagram, 5 start review websites like Trip
Advisor, Google + & Facebook Reviews and our own survey that follows
bookings and visits from our customers. This content is displayed as a word
cloud to easily identify hot topics. We've also assigned a sentiment tag so we
know whether the topics are good, bad or neutral. By having access to this data
we can monitor what our customers are saying in real-time and either resolve any
issues immediately or highlight trends within the business that require a
longer-term strategy. The data also allows us to build associated algorithms to
assign a score to our four KPIs: Social, NPS, Survey & 5 star reviews. These
KPIs make up the greater Customer Experience Score, which we have used to create
league tables to incentivise focus on the customer experience within our GM
population. The best way to drive sales is through returning and engaged
customers, the Customer Dashboard helps with this challenge.
“Social is for content and communication NOT selling and
Where did the idea come
I have invested heavily in experience monitoring
tools in the past particularly in mystery guest programmes which I often found
frustrating. “Professional mystery guests” signing up for the role to get free
food and drink is never going to be a perfect feedback sample! This was even
more distinct in the Novus business where our customers are habitually on mobile
platforms and not form-filling. I was convinced that there must be a way of
collating their sentiment, views and opinions that they are sharing on social
media - there is and the Customer Dashboard was born.
I don't think even
I envisaged what we have today which has changed our business forever. The level
of detail we now receive for each business is staggering; our ability to distil
and prioritise is where the Customer Dashboard really comes into its own.
Has “the Customer Dashboard” helped the business in any way that you
didn't envisage when you launched it?
The response time with a
customer who contacts us digitally has reduced from hours and days to minutes.
We hoped it would deliver this step change but the scale of the impact has been
beyond our expectations. We also wanted to use this as a tool for our General
Managers but are delighted that the level of engagement spans the whole
How do you measure its success?
Customer Experience score is now jeopardy on the performance bonus schemes
throughout the organisation. We measure this along with the traditional measures
of sales, profit and team performance. The Customer Dashboard tracks four KPIs -
traditional survey reviews from people who have booked with us, an NPS score, a
collation of all 5 star reviews and a KPI we call “Social” which measures
customer engagement with our social output.
businesses in London contribute £25bn+ to the Economy. Do you believe that Sadiq
Khan's Night Tsar will help deliver a vision for London as a 24 hour
I think it is a really important step for the
city and a very positive recognition of our industry's contribution to the wider
economy. As London's largest late-night operator we look forward to working
closely with the Mayor's office and the new Night Tsar in the future.
Partnership and collaboration are absolutely key. One of the main drivers for
the total London economy is having a vibrant and successful hospitality market.
Nurturing and supporting the growth of this secures the city's reputation as one
of the most exciting in the world, creating jobs and prosperity.
We are all aware of the prevailing headwinds for the sector. How you
are dealing with or preparing for these whilst still protecting the customer
The industry has prevailed against a perfect storm
of headwinds over the last decade starting with the smoking ban and I'm sure
that it will weather the latest round of economic impacts. London has the
ability to change and adapt - we have an amazing city moving toward an amazing
“24 hour city” and as a business Novus is excellently placed to take
“We have an amazing city moving toward an
amazing '24 hour city'."