New guide offers peer support to small hospitality businesses after impact of pandemic on owners is revealed

Leading hospitality figures are lending their voices to a new guide offering small business owners in the hospitality sector practical advice on small ways that they can take back some control during this incredibly difficult time.

‘Hospitality – Take Time, Take Control’ has been launched in the lead up to an uncertain festive period for the industry, especially given recent lockdown measures in some parts of Great Britain, and amid new research showing that nearly three quarters (72%) of small hospitality business owners have suffered a negative impact on their finances due to the pandemic.

Over two thirds (69%) also say these financial changes have had a damaging impact on their mental health, with almost four in five (79%) saying that it has caused tension in their personal relationships and almost a third (32%) suffering sleepless nights. Lack of customers, working longer hours and having to furlough staff are the things that have had the biggest impact on owners’ mental health.

The hospitality and leisure industry contributes five percent of national GDP and accounts for 10 percent of employment in the country1. However, recent figures show that the pandemic has had a devastating effect on the sector, with more than a quarter concerned their business may not survive past Christmas (27%).

To help small business owners take back some control during these difficult times, the free, downloadable guide contains suggestions on how they can take care of their emotional health and simple, affordable business tips from 11 well-known industry figures, including TV’s favourite barman and publican Merlin Griffiths; founder of the prestigious Little Venice Cake Company, Mich Turner MBE; co-founder of the innovative, market-leading travel club Mr & Mrs Smith, James Lohan MB; the Institute of Hospitality and Hospitality Action. Advice includes stripping back complexity, finding co-branding opportunities, retaining staff and taking control of energy costs with a smart meter.

Merlin Griffiths, said, “As a small business owner, I’ve really felt the financial impact of the pandemic – and I hope that by sharing my experience, I can offer a bit of support to others who are struggling to keep their livelihood intact. The stress of running a small business during tough times is heightened by knowing that your decisions have a direct effect on your staff and their families. While there’s no magic wand to solve every problem, there is some simple, pragmatic advice that owners can take on board in the coming months. Taking control of the small things – such as staying in touch with your customers, looking after your team, and having simple devices installed, like a smart meter to give you accurate bills – can make a big difference.”

A third of owners questioned in the survey said one of their favourite aspects of running their own business was feeling more in control of their work and personal life. However, over a quarter (26%) are worried they will feel even more out of control than they do now as winter approaches. To start to regain control, almost two in five (37%) business owners are taking tighter control of their finances; a third (32%) are introducing regular breaks into their working day and a quarter (27%) are putting time aside for regular exercise.

Robert Cheesewright, Director at Smart Energy GB, said: “In uncertain times it can often be difficult to know how to take back a bit of control and which steps will benefit your business. Our guide is designed to provide advice on things owners can do now, and on a minimal budget. More than four-fifths of the business owners we surveyed said having more certainty about their estimated costs, including energy, would help them feel in more control. One simple step you can take to get control over your business’ energy spend is by getting a smart meter installed. Smart meters give you accurate bills for your business, so each month, you only have to pay for the energy you actually use.”

Mark Lews, CEO from Hospitality Action said: “Since March, we’ve seen a significant increase in requests for our mental health support services and it’s vital that business owners take their wellbeing seriously at such a crucial time. If you’re concerned about your mental wellbeing, or that of a colleague – get in touch. Our adviceline is free of charge and open 24/7: just call 0808 802 0282. We also have lots of practical information on our website at ”

Hospitality – Take Time, Take Control is available to download for free at

Smart meters are available to many small businesses and installations are happening now. Smart meters give you accurate bills for your business, so each month, you only pay for the energy you actually use. They are also helping Britain reach its low carbon target. The data that smart meters generate allows the people that run Britain’s energy system to understand when, where, and how much energy is being used. This lets them plan better, reduce wasted energy, and ultimately bring about a flexible system that can use greener sources of energy.

To find out if your business is eligible for a smart meter, contact your energy supplier.