Do you fancy taking a punt with opening your own pub?
Last week we took a look at some of the basic information you will need to know before you embark upon your exciting new journey as a publican. In true Startacus style we got the nitty-gritty, complicated, mind-scrambling stuff out of the way early - things like; the difference between a leasehold and a free pub, how much each is likely to cost and the ins-and-outs of complicated licensing laws.
Today we take something of a more leisurely ‘beer garden’ approach as we have a look at some of the more general things that you should consider before hanging your name above the door, not least of which is…
What type of Pub should you open ?
We use the word ‘pub’ rather loosely here, what we mean is ‘a business whose major function is the sale of alcohol for consumption on the premises’- but that doesn’t have quite the same ring to it. When most of us picture a ‘pub’ we think of an idyllic old building nestled in a charming little village, but of course there are lots of different kinds of pubs/bars that you could open;
Brewpub or Beer Bar
You could choose to run a bar which falls definitively into one of these categories, or you could create a hybrid incorporating any number of them.
It can be wise not to plan the style of bar which you would like to operate too completely at this early stage since many of the decisions you will make should be informed by your market research. As is the case with many businesses, the key is to always take an objective approach, making sure that you are providing the people in the area something which they will actually use rather than stubbornly pursuing your own dream bar.
It is no longer a case of “build it and they will come” as it has been in times gone by. Of course there are a number of reasons for this, not least of which is the fact that people are much more mobile than they were 50 years ago. This means that they have a wider choice of watering holes to choose from and are less likely to frequent yours simply because ‘it’s the closest’.
Of course it is impossible to predict whether or not a particular bar will see a roaring trade but thorough market research in the early stages of the venture should hopefully give you the best possible chance. Have a little think about things like;
Where exactly would it be best for you to open your pub/bar? Is there a particular area where bars seems to be focused where you live? Are pubs/bars of different types concentrated in different areas?
Is there an appetite in the area for the kind of bar that you plan to open? This is especially important if your bar is going to serve a niche in the market…does this niche exist in your area?
Are there any similar pubs/bars in the local vicinity? If so, how do you plan to make your establishment more appealing and if not, is there a reason for their absence?
Do you plan to serve food on the premises? If so what type of food?
Can you set up a focus group in the area to get their opinions of what type of pub/bar they would like to see open?
Are there good transport links to and from your pub? Will there be taxis available at night if public transport is not and are these within a feasible and affordable distance?
If you will be relying heavily on passing trade does the planned location get good footfall? You will want to visit at different times and days in order to assess this.
Are there times of the year when the local area may be significantly more or less busy than at other times? This is true of many locations, for example coastal resort towns tend to be much quieter in the winter whereas student areas can be very quiet in the summer months- what impact could any potential seasonality have on your pub/bar?
Do you know who your main competitors will be? It would be wise (and rather fun) to do some undercover detective work into the prices they charge.
Are there any courses or qualifications which you could do in order to help you run the business or to give it credibility? Last week we talked about the British Institute of Innkeeping national licensees certificate, which could be of benefit to you in getting your license
Are there any startup loans or grants available in your area that could help you?