Running a pub can be a highly rewarding business for those with a passion for customer service and a love of hospitality. But, as with any business venture, it takes careful planning and execution to succeed in this industry. According to the National Restaurant Association, the bar and tavern industry in the US generated over $25 billion in revenue in 2019 alone and is expected to continue to grow in the coming years. With competition fiercer than ever, it's critical to have a solid plan in place to open your own pub business. In this blog post, we'll provide you with the ultimate 10-step checklist to help you launch a successful pub business that stands out in a crowded marketplace and keeps customers coming back for years to come. So, whether you're a seasoned industry professional or an ambitious newcomer, read on to discover how to get your pub business up and running.

1. Assess Viability Of Venture

Before starting a new pub business, the first step is to assess the viability of the venture. This involves conducting thorough research and analysis to determine the potential profitability of the business and identify any potential challenges that may arise.

  • Market Analysis: A thorough market analysis will help determine the competition in the area, potential customer base, and market trends that may affect the business.
  • Financial Projections: Developing a comprehensive financial plan detailing the projected income, expenses, and profits for the business is a crucial step in assessing the viability of the venture.
  • Location: Identifying the optimal location for the pub business is critical to its success. Consider factors such as foot traffic, competing businesses, and accessibility when selecting a location.
  • Licensing Requirements: Identify the necessary licenses and permits required to operate a pub business in the area.

Tips & Tricks:

  • Research the market trends and competition in the area to establish a unique selling point for your pub business.
  • Include buffer time and resources in your financial projections to account for unexpected costs and challenges that may arise.
  • Partner with experienced professionals, such as attorneys and accountants, to ensure your business complies with all regulatory requirements.

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2. Create Robust Business Plan

A robust business plan is a critical step when opening a pub business. It should outline your goals and objectives, financial projections, marketing strategies, and provide a clear understanding of how you will operate your pub business. Here are some chapters you should include to create a robust business plan.

  • Executive Summary: This section provides an overview of your pub business plan. It should include your mission statement, business description, target market, and financial projections.
  • Company Description: This section should include a detailed description of your pub business and its history. You should also outline your management team's qualifications and explain your business's legal structure.
  • Market Analysis: This section should describe your target market, including their demographics, buying behavior, and needs. You should also analyze your competitors and identify any gaps in the market that your pub business can fill.
  • Marketing Strategies: This section should outline your marketing strategies, including how you will promote your pub business, attract customers, and retain their loyalty.
  • Operations Plan: This section should describe how you will operate your pub business, including your staffing needs, hours of operation, inventory management, and equipment requirements.
  • Financial Projections: This section should include your startup costs, profit and loss statements, cash flow projections, and balance sheet.
  • Risk Assessment: This section should identify any potential risks that your pub business may face, including legal, financial, and operational risks. You should also outline how you plan to mitigate these risks.

Tips & Tricks

  • Be realistic with your projections: Your financial projections should be based on realistic assumptions and market research. Avoid overestimating your revenue and underestimating your expenses.
  • Know your target market: Understanding your customers' needs and preferences is essential to attracting and retaining their business. Conduct market research and gather feedback from your customers to refine your marketing strategies.
  • Plan for contingencies: Unexpected events can have a significant impact on your pub business. Plan for contingencies, such as equipment breakdowns or business interruptions, to minimize their impact on your operations.

A robust business plan is essential when starting a pub business. It serves as a roadmap for your business and can help you secure funding, attract customers, and mitigate risks. Taking the time to create a comprehensive plan can be the difference between success and failure.

3. Build Financial Model & Forecast

After conducting market research and choosing a location, the next important step in opening a pub business is to build a financial model and forecast. This will help you understand the financial viability of the business and the funding needed to get started.

The following chapters will outline steps to create a financial model and forecast for your pub business:

Chapter 1: Determine your Sales Projections

  • Research your competition and understand their sales performance
  • Analyze your target market and determine their demand for your products
  • Set achievable sales targets for each month and year based on your research

Chapter 2: Create a List of Expenses

  • Identify all the expenses needed to operate your pub business, including rent, payroll, utilities, supplies, and marketing costs
  • Estimate each expense item and create a monthly expense budget
  • Allocate funds for unexpected costs and emergencies

Chapter 3: Calculate your Break-Even Point

  • Analyze your sales projections and expense budget to determine when your business will break even
  • Consider adjusting your sales targets and/or expense budget to reach your break-even point sooner

Chapter 4: Forecast your Cash Flow

  • Estimate your monthly cash inflows and outflows based on your sales projections and expense budget
  • Identify potential cash flow problems and develop contingency plans

Chapter 5: Determine your Funding Needs

  • Identify how much money you need to start and operate your business until it becomes profitable
  • Explore funding options, such as loans, grants, or investors, to secure the necessary funds

Tips & Tricks:

  • Build multiple financial scenarios to understand different outcomes
  • Consult with a financial advisor or accountant for expert guidance and recommendations
  • Use online templates and tools to help create your financial model and forecast

By building a comprehensive financial model and forecast, you can confidently approach potential investors and lenders and increase your chances of securing funding for your pub business. It also provides you with a roadmap to track the financial performance of your business and make adjustments as necessary to achieve success.

4. Identify Funding Sources

One of the most critical steps in the process of opening a pub business is to identify the funding sources. Without adequate funding, it would be challenging to start and run a successful pub business. As a pro-business consultant, I would suggest considering the following options to fund your pub business:

  • Personal savings: Using personal savings is the best way to fund a pub business as it eliminates debt and interest rates.
  • Friends and Family: Consider reaching out to friends and family to invest in your business. However, be sure to establish clear terms and repayment plans.
  • Financial Institutions: Traditional financial institutions like banks and credit unions are the most common funding sources for small businesses. However, obtaining a loan from these institutions may be challenging due to their strict requirements.
  • Crowdfunding: Crowdfunding is an excellent option for those who want to raise funds from a large number of individuals. There are several crowdfunding platforms available that cater to small business owners.
  • Investor: Consider approaching an investor who may be interested in investing in your pub business. However, this requires a strong business plan and a convincing pitch.

Tips & Tricks:

  • Maintain a good credit score to increase your chances of obtaining a loan from a financial institution.
  • Be sure to have a solid business plan in place before approaching investors or financial institutions.
  • Consider joining a business accelerator program to gain access to funding sources and mentorship.

It's important to remember that the funding sources for a pub business may vary depending on the location and its unique selling proposition. As a pro business consultant, I would suggest creating a detailed financial plan that outlines the estimated startup cost, ongoing expenses, and projected revenue to determine the funding amount required. This will help you identify the most suitable funding sources for your pub business.

5. Secure Necessary Permits & Licenses

Before starting a pub business, it is important to secure the necessary permits and licenses. This not only ensures that you are operating legally, but it also helps you to avoid any potential legal issues in the future. Here are the steps you need to take:

  • Research what permits and licenses you need – The permits and licenses required can vary depending on where your pub is located. Do some research to find out what is required for your specific area. You may need a liquor license, a business license, health permits, and more.
  • Apply for permits and licenses – Once you know what permits and licenses you need, you can begin the application process. Be sure to fill out the applications accurately and completely, and provide any required documentation.
  • Pay any necessary fees – There may be fees associated with obtaining permits and licenses. Make sure you have a clear understanding of what these fees are and when they need to be paid.
  • Undergo inspections – Some permits and licenses may require inspections before they are issued. Be prepared for these inspections and make sure your pub meets all requirements.
  • Display permits and licenses – Once you have obtained your permits and licenses, make sure to display them in a visible location in your pub. This will show that you are operating legally and may help to build trust with your customers.

Tips & Tricks

  • Make sure to start the permit and license application process well in advance of your planned opening date.
  • Keep track of all deadlines related to permits and licenses, so that you don't miss any important dates.
  • If you are unsure about what permits and licenses you need, consider consulting with a lawyer or other legal professional.

6. Select & Secure Prime Location

One of the keys to a successful pub business is to have the right location. A prime location can make all the difference between a thriving business and one that struggles to survive. Here are some important steps to consider when selecting and securing your pub's location.

  • Research potential locations: Do your homework to identify areas with high foot traffic, easy accessibility, and a captive market. Look for areas with a high concentration of your target customers and competition.
  • Consider the competition: Take a look at the other pubs in the area. Are there many or just a few? What type of pubs are they? How does your pub compare?
  • Analyze local laws and regulations: Make sure that you understand the zoning and licensing requirements of the location before committing to a lease or purchase.
  • Consider the size: Think about the amount of space you need to run your business, including the kitchen, bar, seating area, and restrooms. Ensure that the space is configured to meet your specific operational needs.
  • Calculate costs: Identify the cost of rent, utilities, and other expenses related to the location. Here are some costs to consider:
    • Rent or mortgage payment
    • Property taxes and insurance
    • Utility (water, gas, and electricity) bills
    • Renovations and repairs
    • Equipment and inventory expenses
    • Advertising and marketing costs

Tips & Tricks:

  • Look out for any community events in the area that can attract local customers.
  • Make sure that the location is easily accessible by public transportation or parking for customers' convenience.
  • If you are working with a limited budget, consider opening your pub in a less expensive location or sharing the space with another business to reduce costs.

Once you have found a potential location that meets your criteria, you need to secure it. Leases for commercial property can be complicated, so it's important to get professional advice and help when going through the legalities involved in the lease agreement before signing.

When finding the perfect location for your pub, it’s important to weigh the pros and cons and understand all the local laws and regulations involved in selecting any site. This way, you can secure a location to help contribute to the success of your pub business.

7. Recruit & Hire Top Talent

The success of any business largely depends on the quality of employees working within it. To make sure that your pub business prospers, it's essential that you recruit and hire the right people for the job. Here are some steps to help you hire top talent for your pub business.

  • 1. Clearly Define Job Requirements: Have a clear idea of what kind of employees you're looking for to work in your pub business. Prepare a detailed job description outlining core competencies, skills, experience, and educational qualifications required for each role in your establishment.
  • 2. Spread the Word: Advertise job openings in online job boards, social media, websites, and relevant industry associations to attract suitable applicants. You can also use offline resources such as classified ads in newspapers, flyers, posters, or referrals from current staff.
  • 3. Screen Resumes: Once you receive applications for the job, you need to sift through them thoroughly and shortlist potential candidates for further assessment. Look for resumes that effectively highlight work experience, skills, and achievements relevant to the position you're hiring for.
  • 4. Conduct Initial Interviews: Schedule phone or video interviews with shortlisted candidates to assess their suitability before calling them in for an in-person meeting. During the interview process, ask relevant questions that provide insights into their knowledge, attitude, and fit into the company culture.
  • 5. Conduct In-Person Interviews: Once you've whittled down your list of potential candidates, invite them to meet you in person. Assess their presentation, interpersonal skills, and how they engage with other staff and customers.
  • 6. Conduct Background and Reference Checks: Before extending job offers, you need to conduct thorough background and reference checks to ensure the candidate's integrity, reliability, and fit for the job.
  • 7. Make an Offer: If you're convinced that a candidate is the right fit for the role, extend an offer letter that outlines the job terms, package, and applicable benefits.
  • 8. Onboarding Process: Once a candidate has accepted the offer, set up a comprehensive onboarding process that helps them integrate into the company and job role.
  • 9. Training and Development: Enhance your new hires' skills and knowledge by providing them with requisite training and development opportunities that help them grow and progress within the company.
  • 10. Retention: To ensure that your star employees stay loyal and motivated, create a working environment that fosters positivity, rewards performance, and promotes employee engagement and satisfaction.

Tips & Tricks:

  • Tip 1: Make sure that the job posting is clear and concise, highlighting the key responsibilities and requirements of the role.
  • Tip 2: Consider conducting group interviews, which allows you to see candidates perform in a team setting.
  • Tip 3: Don't forget to follow up with each candidate after the interview process, regardless of whether or not they get the job.

By following these steps and tips, you can attract, hire, and retain top talent that can help your pub business grow and thrive.

8. Set Up & Stock Bar & Kitchen

Setting up the bar and kitchen is an important step in launching a pub business. A well-stocked and well-organized bar and kitchen will ensure that your pub business runs smoothly and serves top-notch beverages and food.

Tips & Tricks:

  • Invest in quality equipment and tools for the bar and kitchen. This will ensure longevity and efficiency in the long run.
  • Create a comprehensive inventory checklist to ensure that you are always stocked up on necessary ingredients, beverages, and supplies.
  • Take into consideration the trends and preferences of your target audience and adjust the menu and stock accordingly.

Setting Up the Bar

The first step in setting up a bar is to decide on the layout and design. Consider the space available and whether you want the bar to be the focal point of your pub or not. Once you have decided on the layout, you can start stocking up on necessary equipment and tools. These include:

  • Glassware (pint glasses, wine glasses, shot glasses, etc.)
  • Bar tools (cocktail shakers, strainers, jiggers, etc.)
  • Beverage dispensing systems (taps, kegs, bottles, etc.)
  • Ice machines and storage
  • Cash registers and/or point-of-sale systems

Make sure that your bar adheres to all the necessary regulations and requirements for serving and selling alcohol in your area. This includes obtaining all the necessary licenses and permits.

Setting Up the Kitchen

The kitchen is the heart of any pub business, and it is essential to have a well-equipped and organized kitchen to serve delicious food and snacks. When setting up your kitchen, consider the type of food you want to serve and the size of your menu.

Invest in high-quality equipment and appliances such as ovens, fryers, grills, refrigerators, and freezers. Ensure that the kitchen is stocked up with all the necessary ingredients, herbs, and spices for your menu.

Additionally, consider the hygiene and safety guidelines for food preparation and serving. This includes training your kitchen staff in hygiene practices, getting the necessary certifications, and investing in proper storage and disposal systems.

By setting up a well-stocked and well-organized bar and kitchen, you can ensure that your pub business runs smoothly. This will not only satisfy your customers but also attract new ones and increase your business revenue.

9. Develop Marketing Plan

Developing a marketing plan is vital for any business, and a pub business is no exception. Your marketing plan should include the following chapters:

  • Defining Your Target Audience: Before you begin marketing your pub business, you need to know who you are targeting. Determine the age range, gender, income level, and interests of your ideal customer.
  • Competitive Analysis: Research your competitors to see what they are doing right and where they are falling short. Find out what makes your pub unique and highlight that in your marketing efforts.
  • Branding: Establish your brand identity with a logo, color scheme, tagline, and website that reflects your pub's atmosphere and values.
  • Promotion Strategy: Choose the tactics that will attract your target audience and align with your brand identity, such as social media advertising, sponsorships, events, and email marketing.
  • Budget and Timeline: Set a marketing budget and timeline for implementing your plan. Determine the return on investment (ROI) of each tactic and adjust your budget and timeline as necessary.
  • Tracking and Evaluation: Track the effectiveness of your marketing efforts by measuring website traffic, social media engagement, new customers, and revenue. Evaluate your results and adjust your marketing plan accordingly.

Tips & Tricks:

  • Use social media to promote your pub business and engage with your customers by sharing events, pictures, and special offers.
  • Partner with other local businesses to cross-promote each other and attract a wider audience.
  • Offer loyalty programs and incentives to encourage repeat business and customer referrals.

By developing a comprehensive marketing plan that outlines your target audience, competitive landscape, and promotion tactics, you can effectively promote your new pub business and attract loyal customers. Remember to track your results and adjust your plan as needed to ensure the best ROI.

10. Launch & Continually Refine Operations

After months, or even years, of planning and preparation, it's time to launch your pub business. This is an exciting moment but also a critical one. To ensure your business is successful, you need to have a solid operational plan in place. This plan will help you manage daily activities, streamline processes, and optimize your operations over time. Here are the key steps to launch and continually refine your operations:

  • Step 1: Hire a Team - To run a successful pub business, you need to have the right people in place. Hire a team of experienced professionals who can help you manage different aspects of the business, like bartending, customer service, and accounting. Start by advertising job openings on various platforms, interview candidates, and conduct background checks before offering employment.
  • Step 2: Set Up Your Bar - Before launching the business, you need to have a fully functional bar ready. This includes liquor licenses, permits, equipment, and inventory management systems. Hire a team of experts who can help you set up the bar, buy necessary equipment, and optimize the layout for better customer flow.
  • Step 3: Plan Your Menu - Your pub's menu should reflect the type of business you want to run. Whether it's a sports bar, gastropub, or a traditional Irish pub, your menu should cater to your target audience. Work with a team of chefs and bartenders to create unique dishes and drinks that appeal to your customers' tastes.
  • Step 4: Develop a Marketing Plan - To attract new customers and build loyalty, you need to develop a marketing plan. This includes identifying your target audience, creating a branding strategy, and advertising on various channels, like social media, email, and text messaging.
  • Step 5: Train Your Staff - To provide top-notch service to your customers, you need to train your staff. This includes customer service skills, product knowledge, and problem-solving skills. Invest time and resources in training your staff to create a positive work environment and improve customer satisfaction.
  • Step 6: Launch Your Business - At this point, you're ready to launch your pub business. Promote your opening day on various channels, like social media, local newspapers, and community boards. Be prepared to handle a rush of customers on the first day.
  • Step 7: Monitor Performance - After launching your business, you need to monitor its performance. Keep track of customers' feedback, expenses, and revenue. Use this information to make data-driven decisions and improve your operations over time.
  • Step 8: Regularly Review & Refine Operations - Your pub business is constantly evolving, and you need to keep up with the changing trends. Regularly review your operations, make appropriate changes, and refine your strategies to stay ahead of the competition.
  • Step 9: Embrace Technology - Technology plays a critical role in running a successful pub business. Invest in POS systems, inventory management software, and other technologies that can improve your operations, reduce costs, and increase efficiency.
  • Step 10: Focus on Customer Satisfaction - Your customers are the lifeblood of your pub business. Focus on providing exceptional customer service, catering to their needs, and creating a welcoming environment that encourages repeat business.

Tips & Tricks

  • Tip 1: Don't underestimate the importance of hiring a strong team. Your staff can make or break your business.
  • Tip 2: Use data to make informed decisions. Keep track of performance metrics and adjust your strategies accordingly.
  • Tip 3: Stay flexible and adapt to changing trends. Keep an eye on industry news and continuously improve your operations.

In conclusion, opening a pub business requires careful planning and execution, but it can be a highly rewarding venture. With the demand for bar and tavern services on the rise, it's crucial to follow a comprehensive checklist to ensure your business stands out in a highly competitive market. From assessing the viability of your venture to launching and continually refining your operations, it's important to cover all the bases. By creating a robust business plan, securing necessary permits and licenses, selecting a prime location, recruiting top talent, and developing a marketing plan, your pub business can generate substantial revenue. According to the National Restaurant Association, the bar and tavern industry in the US generated over $25 billion in revenue in 2019 alone. So, if you're looking to turn your passion for hospitality and customer service into a thriving business, follow these ten essential steps to launch a successful pub and make your mark in the industry.

Excel financial model

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  • 40+ Charts & Metrics
  • DCF & Multiple Valuation
  • Free Email Support