M&C Report talks to Stuart McLean, managing director of Zonal, the electronic point of sale (EPOS) supplier to the hospitality and leisure sector, about his best investment, his best business decision and the best piece of advice he’s ever received.

What is the most important action the industry can take to encourage the consumer?  

It’s vitally important that operators understand every step of the customer journey, from start to finish.  And, when they understand it, they have to use that intelligence to enhance the customer experience and ensure that communication is relevant to each and every individual consumer.

What single action could Government take that would make a difference? 

The Government could reduce pressure on the industry by reducing VAT on food and drink out of the home by 5%.

What is your top priority? 

Zonal has been at the forefront of hospitality technology for over 35 years.  Our ambition is to continue to deliver innovative technology solutions that enable our customers to streamline efficiencies and make more profit. 

What has been your best investment? 

Zonal has been and still is a family business.  Our people are our biggest and best investment; they are at the heart of our business and are critical to the long standing and productive relationships we have with our customers.  

What has been your best business decision?  

In the early stages of Zonal we took the decision to sell the family hotel and invest in the development of our EPoS business. 35 years on, seeing where Zonal is today – a company with a new £1m office in Edinburgh that employs over 300 people – proves that we made the right decision.

How much has your business changed to combat the recession? 

The recession has made us more focused on ensuring that the solutions we provide deliver a sound return on investment for our customers.

Who is doing something special in the industry? 

There’s a lot of great stuff going on out there with some fantastic emerging brands. Reds True Barbeque is an innovative food concept outside of London with a unique marketing campaign launched that’s delivering impressive results. The team are really passionate about what they do and have a unique offering which makes them stand out.

Most admired brand?   

As head of a family business, I particularly admire JCB who built an institution on family values over many years and have stayed true to their ethos. 

Who has been the most influential in your career?  

My Father, Ralph McLean who founded the business 35 years ago. He taught me about innovation, people and the importance of being obsessed with our own customers’ success.

What is the best piece of advice you have ever received? 

Look after your customers and they will look after you.