No one wants to trek, drive or crawl for a quick glass of wine or a cold ale. This is the stuff that should sit on the doorstep of any British town or village; the heart and soul of the community, where people congregate and carouse. And the neighbourhood chatter just gets louder; a new pub is needed. Perhaps it’s the entrepreneurial spirit in you, but you’ve made it your mission to open that place which everyone keeps talking about.
But where to start? Prepare for headaches (not just the hangover kind), bureaucracy, early mornings, late nights and most of all, lots of laughter. Still interested? Then read on; our 5 IDEAL beginner’s steps to opening your own pub.
We said beginners, so let’s get proper layman. As of the year 2003, all licensing for pubs is under the jurisdiction of the local authorities. That’s the very first thing to know. So before you go any further in your plans for the ideal neighbourhood pub, do talk to your local authorities to see if you can meet their requirements, such as being over the age of 18, having a premises licence (the kind will depend on all sorts of factors including whether you serve food, show footy and host gigs) and the proper insurance, and having no criminal record. It would be crazy to start sinking your money into a startup before having this conversation with the powers-that-be.
As a figure rougher than your potential patron’s heads in the morning, £20’000 is the bare minimum funding you’ll need to get things off the ground. And that’s not taking into account rent, which will likely between £3000 and £6000 per month. Yep, this isn’t going to be cheap. And you’ll need to keep replenishing that stock as well as having plenty in reserve, as the thirst levels of punters can be an unpredictable beast. In short, factor in more money than you think you’ll need; surprises are inevitable.
When writing your business plan, it will be necessary to budget for any and all equipment you’ll need, some of which will be unique to the pub setting. For the sake of simplicity, we’ll assume you’re starting from an empty, vacant shell. This means that you’ll need to finance everything from the bar to the booths, tables and chairs, as well as all equipment needed for the sale and distribution of wine, beer and spirits if you so choose to sell that. Even in the smallest of pubs, wine and beer are going to be your big-ticket items in terms of residual sales, so a wine cooler or a wine fridge (like these from Wineandbarrels.co.uk) would be a place to start. Check out their wine cooler buying guide to familiarise yourself with the different options available.
A PUB IS ONLY AS GOOD AS ITS PEOPLE
Perhaps you’ve been in the hospitality industry for years and are not overly concerned with the backend of the business. However, the one skill so many startups lack is people management. This means that you must work well with staff as well as being a customer-oriented manager. It has been said that a pub or restaurant is only as good as the customer-facing staff and that has been verified time and time again. Today’s pub-goer wants a truly friendly face to help them have a good time. So, a warm, memorable welcome and effortless hospitality is a must. How you go about instilling this into your staff is up to you.
People management also extends to the atmosphere you’d like to nurture in your place. Too lairy, too boozy and you risk putting off folk who like a ‘quiet one’ in the corner. Too sedate, and that atmosphere of conviviality so conducive to chatter (and coin) is lost. Find the right balance. Most importantly, as a seller of alcohol, you have a responsibility to customers and the community as a whole to sell drink in a conscientious way, encouraging people to enjoy it a drink rather than get blind drunk. As we said, a fine balancing act, indeed. You’ve got this.