Building new revenue streams around your point of difference
Rona Amiss and her family weren’t exactly hospitality experts when they decided to open a tearoom on their working farm.
They wanted to diversify revenue streams and were confident there was an opportunity to take advantage of the 250,000-odd walkers who came through their National Trust-owned farm set in The Lizard, a designated “national character area”.
Knowing that visitors to Cornwall will more than likely have an interest in nature and the flora and fauna that occupy it, Rona made informative signs that were placed on her farm’s gates and fences.
“We have clipboards describing the crops or animals that are in the field with at least one interesting fact,” she said. “This all helps to engage the customer and starts a conversation in the tearoom, making each customer’s visit unique.”
Making only £1 from each passing walker would be transformative for the business, but Rona is careful to ensure the information and trivia shown around the farm are not pushing the tearoom too heavily – just a healthy nudge that it’s there if refreshments are needed.
“We were looking for a point of difference, leveraging our unique selling point to engage with people before they’d even entered the tearoom.”
She believes there is a “thirst for knowledge” when it comes to farming, but it’s an industry which has always had a hard time engaging.
Bringing new skills and ideas to the farm
On top of the tearoom efforts, all staff are knowledgeable about the area the farm is located in and how it’s run – one was even trained to deliver farm visits. “This is great fun and brings people back to our fairly new tearoom,” Rona explained.
Her desire to try new things and experiment is rooted in her career choice. “You have to do what you feel works and what you’re happy with,” she explained. “With farming you wouldn’t do it if you followed the rules of business – we’ve always done it because we wanted to.”
Rona hopes the tearoom can be the stimulus to start offering a wider variety of hospitality-type services. They’ve accepted their first wedding booking, which will take place in their beautiful Victorian-era courtyard and a farmhouse building.
Her children, some of whom are now at university age, are returning to the farm with new skills and ideas of how things can be changed up. This youthful vigour, a key advantage family firms have, is now driving innovation and supporting Rona and her husband in trying new things.
She may have her hands busy with baby lambs and school visits, but Rona is a great example of a hospitality business owner leveraging what she already has to work with and unafraid to test and learn as she goes.
More small changes that work
From maximising local partnerships to reducing waste, Britain's hospitality firms are out to prove that small, creative changes can make a huge difference. Catch up with the other seven stories in the series below:
- Rising waste costs triggered a host of sustainable changes
- Visiting another business inspired new ways of working
- A £4 toothbrush sparked an idea to delight customers
- Strong supplier relationships freed up funds to invest elsewhere
- Using social media to set up a celebrity-run event in five days
- A creative approach to sustainability keeps customers coming back
- A local partnership created a cost-effective marketing opportunity
location: South West (England)
business type: Hospitality & tourism
Rona knew that visitors to Cornwall would more than likely have an interest in nature. Making informative signs helped to engage customers and start a conversation.
Don't just focus on a one-time visit – create an experience customers will want to return to.
Your USP is what sets your business apart, so don't move too far away from it.