Ensure you do your homework

Taking on a pub requires careful consideration, writes Chris Jowsey

For many people, the prospect of running their own pub business is an attractive one.
But there are a number of factors that should be given careful consideration before prospective lessees take the next step.

Chris Jowsxey, Star Pubs & Bars
Star Pubs & Bars’ Chris Jowsey.

• Do you have a passion for pubs? Running a pub is a lifestyle as well as a business choice. To be successful you have to have a passion for the pub trade, love the environment and have the drive and commitment to work long hours.
• You don’t need pub experience to become a lessee, but if you haven’t already done so, get a job in a pub to find out what it’s like first-hand.
• Check out different pub companies and the range of leases on offer. Look carefully at the different pub companies. What support, investment and retailing and market insight will they provide?
• Consider carefully if your chosen pub is right for you. Don’t let your heart rule your head. Do your market research – visit the pub at different times of the day and week and look past the current offer to the potential.
• Don’t over-commit on capital. When doing your business plan allow for working capital, the initial costs and the potential to make a loss in the early days. There’s no point in stretching yourself to get your ideal pub if it only lasts six months.
• Create a detailed business plan and have it reviewed by a professional accountant before you commit to a pub.
• Take advantage of the free insight that is available. Gather all the advice you can, you will find you can get many valuable viewpoints for free.
• Get legal advice before signing any agreement.
Although, like Star Pubs & Bars, many leased pub operators try to phrase their agreements in simple, clear language, there is inevitably some ‘legal speak’ involved. Any agreement comes with rights and obligations and you must make sure you understand the terms of your lease and the commitments you are making.
• Undertake training before you open the doors. The importance of training early cannot be stressed enough.
• Sign up a good stock-taker and accountant before you start trading. They will link their reports to your business plan and help you keep your business on track whilst freeing you to focus on the essential (and enjoyable!) customer-facing areas such as front of house and marketing.
– Chris Jowsey is the trading director at Star Pubs & Bars.