“Never stop thinking about what’s next.”

Meet The Bull’s Head Inn – one of the astonishing businesses who through the pandemic found new ways to run their business. Find out how.


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Read time: 3 mins      Added: 12/05/2021

The term ‘local’ took on a whole new meaning as the Bull’s Head Inn experienced a series of lockdown measures that closed down so much of what was great about being a rural business. But for John King, joint owner of the business with his wife for 15 years, as well as their son Richard, supporting the local community of Chelmarsh was more than just pulling pints.

“I never imagined social media could be so important for our business.”

Although difficult, they soon became hardened to the unpredictability of the pandemic and made sure they used the time afforded to them to adapt and improve their business. First on their list however was to protect the livelihood of those that made the enterprise possible in the first place. 

Looking after their employees. They decided to keep all of their staff employed through the various lockdowns, so all were ready to start working again when the pub, B&B and self-catering accommodation was allowed to reopen. 

Takeaway food delivery. With pub dining off the menu, the kitchen quickly transformed into offering a takeaway service, adapting their menu and delivering more than 40 roast dinners to the homes of loyal locals on Mother's Day alone.  

Refurbishing business facilities. With time on their hands, despite the struggles of managing grants and furlough options, they got to work on improving the facilities, including revamped kitchens and new marquees, lights and heaters in the garden.

New systems and staff training. They spotted an opportunity to improve their existing business management system and installed new software designed to increase efficiency when taking reservations. This helped bolster the customer experience as well as the business’s reporting and booking analysis. They also encouraged training in ‘foodology’ and Microsoft Office.

A fresh focus on marketing. The pandemic changed the way the business thought about its audience. Social media played a key role in keeping in touch with local customers, but also added a new dimension to how they approached the market, starting with broadening their appeal to a new and younger customer base.

Looking forward:

“Involve people, and ask them for their opinions and ideas.”

What the pub has learned over the course of the last 12 months is that you’ve got to constantly be on top of your business, all of the time, seeking out new ideas and embracing new ways of working regardless of how alien it might feel. One of the best ways the pub did this was through the benefits of asking for help. Other people’s opinions, especially those of your own employees, can really help expand and improve all aspects of a business operation. 

Marketing is one area they will definitely keep developing and improving on. They have a renewed respect for the economic dynamic between the different parts of their business - increased awareness and demand for the accommodation side, subsequently increasing demand and income from the food and beverage side of things.

Social media is also now an ever-present channel to attract a new generation of customers, as well as keeping the locals up to date and connected to the business for the long term. 

Good news for the local, and good news for the locals.

Richard, Landlord, The Bull’s Head Inn

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