A business loan from Boost Capital helped this RAF pilot-turned-pub owner fly through the slow winter season.
After Mike Hayes left his 25-year career as an RAF pilot in 2014 he decided to try something completely different. After looking at hotels, restaurants, B&Bs and pubs, he decided he liked the idea of running a traditional English-style watering hole. So he bought a little place out in the country and opened up the Cali.
Mike had worked in a pub before joining the military, so he knew he liked the camaraderie and fun of a local spot. He’s had to learn everything else along the way, getting his feet wet hiring staff, building supplier relationships and managing seasonal fluctuations.
“It’s brand new ground for me, which is exciting,” he says. “Coming from a military background, I’d never run my own business, so I really enjoy learning and tackling challenges – everything from hiring summer staff to pensions to being VAT registered – it’s all new. I like the idea of passing or failing on my own merits, and bringing in some of the skills I learned in the RAF into civilian life.”
The Cali is a popular spot in the summer. It’s close to the moors and the sea, and is surrounded by multiple campsites, so summers are busy, and the income is great. But when the warm season ends and the campsites empty, business drops off and it can get pretty quiet.
“We do have a hard core of locals who come in pretty much every day,” says Mike. “But the winter is lean, and trying to plan for that financially is quite difficult to get right. It’s hard to say exactly how quiet the winter months will be, and it’s also difficult to keep the right amount of money in the bank.”
This year, the Cali faced an extra challenge: Christmas party bookings fell short of expectations due to a slump in the local economy, so cash flow was even tighter than usual. Mike knew everything would be fine come summer, when all the holidaymakers arrived, but he needed a stopgap to keep the pub’s finances healthy until then. So he turned to Boost Capital for a loan.
“What I can count on come April/May is that the income will be through the roof,” he says. “I just needed to find someone who trusts the fact that though my books don’t look fantastic in this particular moment, I’ll be able to meet the loan once the season starts.”
Mike wanted to consolidate a couple of other loans that weren’t making financial sense, do some much needed restoration to the pub’s historic structure, and get quick cash flow help while he sorted out a longer-term loan with the bank. Without the loan from Boost Capital, he would’ve ended up putting off debts for weeks or months, and that’s not how he wants to run his business. Mike doesn’t like to make his vendors and suppliers (many of whom are small businesses themselves) wait for their money. So he went to a broker, who recommended Boost Capital, and the rest was easy – and fast.
“I just wanted things to get done quickly with the loan,” he says. “I’m a busy ‘one-man band.’ Pub owners tend not to have HR or finance departments…it’s just me doing everything. And when you’re running low on funds, it kind of takes up all your capacity for thought. Having the loan sorted, I can breathe and work out ways of getting more people through the door – and making the business more profitable.”
Working with Boost Capital has definitely made life easier for this busy pub owner. He’s installed a new floor in his kitchen, paid off supplier bills, and given himself the time he needs to prepare for the busy season ahead. He would happily apply for another Boost Capital loan if faced with another particularly quiet winter.
“The strength was how rapid it was,” he says. “Once I decided and was given the figures, it was all done in a couple of hours. Boost Capital really is ideal for small business owners like me who need financing at a competitive rate in a short time. My advice to other entrepreneurs is don’t let your finances fester. Don’t ignore it if you’ve got an issue or a shortfall. There are people out there who will help you get through it – people like Boost Capital.”
Need funding for your pub or other small business? Apply for a business loan from Boost Capital today and you could have the money in as little as two business days.