7 steps to open your own bar
In today’s market, with the ever increasing popularity of spending nights out on the town, running a pub is as much an art as it is a business. If you don’t know what you are doing then it is easy to be overwhelmed early on. That is why we have created this simple seven step guide to opening and running a successful pub. If you believe your dreams of owning your own pub deserve to become a reality, then by reading this you have already taken your first step.
Now without further ado:
Step One: Concept
I know you must be eager to start already, but those who rush in are sure to fail. The first thing you need to do is research. You can dream all you like, but if you don’t have a solid knowledge of the real pub world then you are going nowhere. You will need to know what has already been done, what is popular, the types of pub out there, themes, what has worked, and what has failed. Build a mind map of all these things and use it to form your own ideas. Don’t feel bad about taking someone else’s idea and improving on it, it’s a competitive market.
Step Two: Location and Premises
Now you have your idea and you’ve refined it a bit, it’s time to find your pub. Shop around for a good building, with a location that fits your ideas. For example if you want to run a pub for university students to come and blow their student loans on, you don’t want to put it in the middle of farmland. The most successful pubs can be found near the sea to bring in the tourists, near universities to bring in the students, or on the high street to get a more rounded clientele. These are strategic places to have a pub because it makes sense to have it there, if you were looking for a pub where would you look first?
Another thing is to always have a thorough look around the premises before you buy them. Although they cannot lie, estate agents can be rather creative with their wording. Also you will want to take a walk around the area, to see what the people are like, what they want, and if there is any major competition.
Step Three: Preparation
Now is the time to get the paper work out of the way. Before you can sell alcohol you need a licence. To acquire one of these you will need to visit the home office website, This will allow you to lawfully sell alcohol, as well as to provide public entertainment and sell late night hot food and drink.
Now you can get a supplier. I’d suggest using the Internet to shop around for the best taste at the best price. Remember, a lot of your customers will value your low prices as much, if not more, than the quality of your alcohol. After all, we are just coming out of a recession. Don’t buy anything until you sample it though.
Next you’ll want to furnish your pub, unless you’re lucky enough to have found one already done up. When shopping for furniture always keep in mind your original idea. If something you see doesn’t fit your mental picture, don’t buy it. Centre everything you buy on your core theme, this will make sure that you build exactly the kind of mood you want.
Step Four: Marketing
Marketing is the one thing that will make or break your business. Thankfully it’s also a goldmine if you do it right. Social media is the holy grail of all marketing, and if you have something like a Facebook page where you can post events, pictures, and the like, you will increase your revenue overnight. It is the fastest way to get word out there.
Posters are also a good marketing tool. If you put a large one facing the road, inviting passers-by in, then they will come. The average person won’t actively search out a new pub if they’re already a regular at a different one, that’s why you need to show them that you are there and that you will serve them better than another pub.
Word of mouth is your most powerful market tool. Get out there and tell people about your pub; get them talking about it. Word will spread fast, and if the good things incidentally get exaggerated then all the better.
Step Five: Hiring
You are going to have to accept that you can’t do this alone. Even keeping it within the family would be a stretch. It really depends on what type of bar you want to run as to who you hire. I’d suggest hiring people aged 19 to 30, as these are the people most likely to frequent a pub. If they work there they will tell their friends who will come, and it will help get the ball rolling. You will want to display job vacancies both in your window and on the Internet; if you have that social media as mentioned in step four then that is the perfect place, as well as such websites as Gumtree and CV library. Remember that with the current employment market there will be dozens of applications for each job, so don’t settle for second best.
Below is a list of employees you may need, though some of them depend on what kind of bar you will be running:
· Bar tender
· Cleaner Waiter/waitresses Cooks
· Dish washer
· Street advertisers
Step Six: Running
Once you have completed all the other steps this one should be easy. There are still a few things you will need to keep a close eye on though.
Keep track of all your transactions; if you are ever robbed or accused of anything you will need spotless accounting books.
Always take into account the opinions of your customers. If one person complains about something you can bet your business that a dozen others have thought it. Inconvenient sure, especially after all the effort you put in, but remember that, although the customer is not always right, they are the ones who are giving you the money. It can’t hurt to take their opinion into account.
You will have to have strict rules in your pub. If you don’t then it will be chaos. Banning someone from the establishment should only be a last resort, after all it is losing you customers, but remember that it is an option if someone starts to get a little too rowdy.
Everyone loves events. Whether it’s a party, a pub quiz or a gig, find as many excuses as you can to have an occasion. This will make your pub memorable and fun, not to mention encouraging people to spend more time and money.
Step Seven: Investing
There will come a time when you are bringing in a lot of money. You will want to treat yourself for all your hard work, and by all means do, but you should also put some of that money back into the pub. Of your profits, approximately 40% should go into improving the pub, 10% should be saved because bad days are bound to happen, leaving you with 50% to take home. Not bad considering how much you’ll be bringing in. The money you invest in the pub should go to improve facilities, buying a larger range of alcohol, better trained bartenders, advertising, and more events.
If you follow these steps carefully, adapting them to your own specific ideas, then it will be very hard for you to go wrong with your ambition to buy a pub and run it. So long as you have a well-thought out plan and are prepared to work hard and be flexible, you’ll go far.