At the centre of any small business is one crucial financial figurehead whose responsibility is to make sure that overheads are curtailed and profitability maintained. As the Financial Controller of Harvey’s Point hotel, one of the largest employers in the South Donegal region, Michael Cullinan makes the key decisions which drive the success of this award-winning business.
Q: How do you find the perfect balance between providing your guests with a luxury experience while also monitoring the operating costs?
Michael: The secret to providing a luxury experience is that all of the people who work here are committed to customer care. Irrespective of how we’re managing costs in the office, the atmosphere and attention to detail is always there. A smile costs nothing, I always say. There’s no cost element in the attention we give to a guest. That in itself has to be balanced with a properly managed financial angle and every head of department has to be mindful of this too.
Q: How important are energy efficiency improvements at the hotel?
Michael: As a hotel we’re phasing out old bulbs and switching to environmentally friendly LED lights which makes total sense as a business decision. And as you can imagine with a hotel this size, we’ve quite a lot of bulbs!
Q: What are some of the challenges you’ve experienced along the way, for example Ireland’s recession?
Michael: We’ve managed the business as best we could without compromising on quality or service. We became more efficient as a business because we had to, but we’ve always found a way to keep reinvesting and growing. The hotel grew steadily with repeat and referral business so we weren’t really affected by the boom but it also meant that we weren’t really hit by the bust either. However, it certainly made us stronger business people to have to make those tough decisions and watch our overheads.
Q: Do you think adding small additions each year is the smarter way to carefully manage growth at a sustainable rate?
Michael: Definitely. It means you can focus on one area and finish that to completion. Having said that, it hasn’t always happened that way. Sometimes we’ve had 2 to 3 projects going on at the same time. In the last two years there’s been great growth and significant additions to the property. Gradual growth is good, if we had opened in 1989 with the large hotel that we have now, the business wouldn’t have been sustainable. We didn’t have the reputation that we have now, nor did we have the skills to run a large hotel.
Q: How can being more green help the business and ultimately benefit the environment?
Michael: The environment is very precious to us here in Donegal, especially because of our location on the lake and in the countryside. However, we’re totally mindful that this hotel has to be run as a business, so it’s literally a blend of the two. Of course, the real motivation is cost so it’s great that both can work in harmony.
Q: How long has Harvey’s Point been an Electric Ireland business customer?
Michael: We switched to Electric Ireland in June 2015 and have been very happy since.
Q: What are some of the benefits of being with Electric Ireland that you receive as a business customer?
Michael: Firstly, the service with Electric Ireland is always personalised, which is extremely helpful. Secondly, it’s competitively priced - we have a fixed price for 12 months which makes financial planning much easier. Electric Ireland have also been proactive in assisting with cost management which is appreciated and valued too. For me, it’s just about having the confidence that we’re achieving the best price we can without the use of a broker.
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