In The Spotlight With Wendy Sayers From Mohujos
Tell Us About Your Role In Your Business.
My role tends to vary greatly day to day. As the sole director I have to oversee the whole operation as well as any admin, HR and wages. My role varies from running front of house, to working on the bar and serving customers. I really enjoy working with local businesses, running promotions and organising events. I am more than happy to get my hands dirty and do a few dishes or do a bit of cleaning! Team working is extremely important and I try to keep my people happy and motivated.
I am not fortunate enough at this stage to have a full management team to work on my businesses rather than in them as much as I would like, but this is my goal over the next 12 months.
How Did The Business Start?
Mohujos began its journey in Billingham with our first restaurant which I originally opened with my sister in law in 2007. We both agreed to part company in 2008 and I decided I wanted to continue running the business alone. After the business went from strength to strength achieving a 100% increase in turnover within the first 4 years I decided to look for 2nd premises. Stockton restaurant opened in 2014 and continues to grow and develop. There are lots of new ideas and changes planned in the coming months, with one being the opening of a specialist tequila bar in the upstairs conservatory.
In May this year we were offered a wonderful opportunity and opened the Burrito Bar on Bedford Street in Middlesbrough. This has been well received and there is still lots planned to grow this side of the business. I decided to close the Billingham restaurant after much soul searching to concentrate more on the other businesses. I am excited to say that I will keep a hand in with the new tenants of the building when we jointly open a real ale pub in the coming months.
What Are The Biggest Challenges To Your Business?
Keeping the magic alive, even when you don’t always know where it comes from in the first place.
Consistency – Opening further branches has proven my most challenging in terms of ensuring the food and service are as good as the reputation we have always been proud of. Realising I could no longer control everything was a hard lesson, instilling the same values across sites and team members is still an issue I deal with on-going.
Making profit - A major challenge is controlling escalating costs and tight margins without constant price increases being passed to the customer. A poor week or two can have a massive impact on the cash flow of any business but within the hospitality trade, it doesn’t take much to get in to difficulty financially. It is one of the most vulnerable and most likely businesses to fail.
Although social media has been a huge help in promoting the business it can be equally as dangerous. It gives people a screen to hide behind and you become susceptible to keyboard warriors who can now have a voice and no name! People are more inclined to shout from the roof tops with a bad experience as opposed to giving businesses a chance to put things right at the time. This can be frustrating as we want nothing more than for each of our wonderful customers to have a good experience from beginning to end.
What Are Your Biggest Achievements For The Business?
My biggest achievement is growing a small business idea from one small restaurant into a recognisable brand with multiple outlets and more potential for growth.
I am a strong advocate for local fresh prepared food and we have managed to retain our original idea and continue to serve meals prepared to order. It might mean people wait longer than they might in some chain restaurants but we find most people would rather wait!
I am proud to say that we have a brilliant staff retention rate, many employees have been with Mohujos for 6/7 years and there is a strong team ethic within the business and loyalty. I try to promote within where possible and I get huge pleasure in seeing how people grow and develop as individuals, increasing their skills and confidence is key to our success.
Customer loyalty is key to a successful restaurant and building good relationships by offering a consistent, friendly and relaxed environment is a massive factor in our longevity and popularity.
What Did You Want To Be When You Were At School?
When I was at school I wanted to be a physiotherapist in the RAF.
What Was Your First Job?
My first job after leaving college was working for Grayston, White & Sparrow, a crane company. Initially I was working in sales and then in credit control.
What Job Would You Like To Have Other Than Your Own And Why?
I would love to be a mystery shopper!
One of my dreams has been to mentor younger people who lack in self worth by creating a safe environment where they can build skills, learn and grow into confident young adults.
What Do You Love Most About Working In The North East?
I love the northern attitude and friendliness of the people who live here. There is a strong sense of eagerness to improve the area and we have seen a massive change in the opportunities offered to new businesses. I love being a part of the family businesses on Bedford Street in Middlesbrough, there’s a real team spirit between all of the people working there.
What Do You Love Most About Living In The North East?
I have lived here all of my life and have strong connections to the North East. There is a strong sense of pride in the people of Teesside. I think we are so lucky that we have the beach and countryside on our doorstep!
What Do You Do In Your Down Time Away From Work?
I love chilling out with my family, there’s a lot to be said for just sitting down and having a meal together and talking. I find it very hard to switch off so I enjoy planning nights/days out with family and friends. Time out is important in helping me cope with the intensity of running my own businesses.
What’s Your Number One Piece Of Advice For Anyone In Business Or Wanting To Start Up?
If you believe the doubts in your mind, you won’t achieve the dreams in your heart. Your dreams don’t expire, just take a deep breath and try again!
Worked hard, played hard and didn’t give up!
Would you like to take part in our 'In The Spotlight' series? If you think you stand out from the crowd please email us with the following information:
Your full name, the business or charity in which you are involved and why you would like to take part.
If selected we will be in touch to interview.