Hunt Hospitality has edged out several large companies to be placed second in the 2021 AFR BOSS top five innovations in the retail, hospitality, tourism and entertainment category.

Hunt Hospitality’s innovation is an industry companion called Shoeless Jack which was created to guide pub staff on every aspect of running a pub via digital step-by-step processes.

It will also form the foundation of a new bar franchise of the same name, according to Hunt Hospitality managing director Stephen Hunt, and will potentially be the subject of a reality TV show.

The other four innovators named were Prezzee’s personalised eGift card which came in first, with Coles Group’s Click&Collect Rapid taking third place, ICON Service’s Eco Bin Washing System in fourth place, and Muffin Break’s Lower Carb Gluten Free Muffin Range the fifth innovation named.   

Shoeless Jack was created to provide workers with instant access to the type of expert advice that people new to the business need, according to Hunt, and includes hundreds of internal processes in the form of step-by-step best practice processes.

According to Hunt, publicans are often thrown into the deep-end, needing to effectively educate their teams across all departments on matters including cellar, purchasing, cash handling, keno, tab, gaming, restaurant, bar, entertainment, crowd control, compliance and people management.

“Outside of compliance short courses, there is no qualification for ‘How to Successfully Run a Pub’,” he said. “It’s becoming increasingly difficult to stay true to ‘Traditional Australian pubs with a twist of today’ when traditions are not being passed down sufficiently.” 

Shoeless Jack aims to address this, Hunt said, and is also to become the basis for a small bar franchise model – also named Shoeless Jack – which will see the group’s digital processes help franchisees operate their venue.

According to Hunt, Shoeless Jack has been so successful in streamlining processes, it will become the backbone of the franchise model, with the first bar to roll out in mid-December, with a lease already secured for this purpose.

Under the franchise model, Hunt Hospitality will hold a joint lease with the franchisee, and will share costs, with the franchisee paying a head-office fee in return for help on things like accounting, marketing, and menu ideas.

“The franchisee will pay themselves a good wage and the profit after that will be split,” Hunt says. “The idea is that we work with them and impart our knowledge. Also, the cost in starting-up won’t be overly expensive as we don’t want people struggling, which has been the fault with other franchises.”

The next step could be a reality TV show, according to Hunt, which would see contestants compete to win their own Shoeless Jack franchise. Hunt said he is currently in talks with a few TV networks about the concept.

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