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Beyond Saying No - Reflections of a Reluctant Landlady

Updated: Apr 17

In the business world, including hospitality, it can be easy to make quick decisions and say “No” to opportunities when you are busy.  However, making quick decisions can mean losing opportunities and there is a valuable lesson to be learned about the limitations of narrow-minded thinking and the power of determination. One example of this which springs to mind is a story that unfolded right within the confines of my pub, and serves as a testament to what happens when we look beyond the ‘too difficult to do’ and explore possibilities.

On what seemed to be an ordinary day, a decision made in haste nearly cost us a unique opportunity. On entering my pub, my manager said to me, “I know you are not going to be happy with me, but I have turned down a massive booking from the Cobra Club”.  When I asked why, she explained that a gathering of 100 prestigious cars was too risky in our car park; she did not want the liability of expensive vehicles, and because our car park's capacity was only approximately 80 spaces.

Concerns over liability were unfounded, cars are parked at their own risk, but it was true, we didn’t have quite enough parking.  Yet the decision was made without consultation, embodying a moment of narrow-minded thinking that didn't just risk a financial setback but also the chance to host an extraordinary event.

I was disappointed, not just about the missed opportunity of a £4,000 booking, but more so about the missed opportunity for publicity and fun.  It was a moment that demanded not just reflection but action.

Driven by determination, I retraced the call through our VOIP service, an unusual step but I thought it was worth a chance.  It was a move that wasn't just about securing a booking but about challenging the limited thinking of the manager, about showing that when faced with limitations, we should be creative and go the extra mile.

And so, after speaking to a surprised Cobra Club member, we came up with a very simple solution. I offered to hire the nearby village hall for a couple of hours, just for the parking – at my expense - a marginal cost of £11.00 per hour!  This would allow us to split the parking across two sites so we could accommodate every last gleaming car. Yet, as fate would have it, only 84 cars turned up, allowing us to fit them snugly into our car park. This twist served as a reminder of the fluidity of situations and the unnecessary limits we sometimes impose on ourselves.

It was quite a spectacle watching so many shiny, noisy classic cars pull into the car park. The lunch went without a hitch and the old historical pub shook to the rafters when the Cobras eventually left, engines roaring and drivers waving cheery goodbyes.

The event was not only a financial success but a public relations triumph – we even made the local paper and picked up some great reviews too. There was also the unforgettable joy of some members of staff who got to ride in a Cobra, thanks to the generosity of the club members. I can say from personal experience, it was definitely a 'hold on to your hat's ride, but a memory not to be easily forgotten!

This episode in our journey serves as a moral about the dangers of limited thinking. It's a call to always question the immediate "no", to see beyond perceived limitations, and to remember that with a bit of creativity and determination, we can turn potential losses into memorable victories. It's a reminder that in the world of hospitality, and indeed in life, the only true limit is the one we set on ourselves.

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A Collage of Cobra Cars parked neatly in a pub car park.
Cobra Cars

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