As the sports industry continues to grow and evolve, so does the demand for sports bars. According to a recent study by Technavio, the global sports bar market size is expected to reach $1.82 billion by 2023, growing at a CAGR of 5%. This is great news for aspiring entrepreneurs who are looking to tap into this lucrative market. However, launching a sports bar business is no easy feat. It requires thorough research, planning, and execution. In this blog post, we have compiled a checklist of 10 essential steps to help you open/start/launch your sports bar business successfully. So, whether you're a seasoned restaurateur or a first-time business owner, read on to discover the key elements of opening a sports bar business.

Research Market & Potential Customers

Before opening a sports bar, you need to thoroughly research the market and potential customers in your area. This will help you identify your target audience, understand the competition, and determine the demand for your services.

Chapter 1: Identify Your Target Audience

You need to identify the target audience for your sports bar business. Is it sports enthusiasts, college students, or families? Depending on your target audience, you need to create a suitable atmosphere, offer the right menu, and promotional activities. Conduct a demographic study of the area where you plan to set up the business to identify the age, education, and income level of your potential customers.

Here are a few tips for identifying your target audience:

  • Conduct market research and surveys.
  • Analyze the competition and their customers.
  • Understand the local culture and lifestyle.

Chapter 2: Understand the Competition

Before starting your sports bar business, you need to research the competitors in your area. Analyze their menus, promotional activities, customer service, and ambience. This will give you a good understanding of the competition and what you need to do differently to stand out.

Here are a few tips for understanding your competition:

  • Visit competitor sports bars and observe their operations.
  • Talk to their customers and understand their preferences.
  • Check online reviews and customer feedback on social media.

Chapter 3: Determine the Demand

You need to determine the demand for a sports bar in your area before investing in this business. Are there any other sports bars in the area? What is the demand for sports events and games in the locality? Analyze the data on sports events and teams in the area and the expected growth in the future.

Here are a few tips for determining the demand:

  • Study the local sports events calendar and schedules.
  • Check out the local sports clubs and teams and their following.
  • Conduct surveys to understand the demand for a sports bar in the area.

In conclusion, market and customer research is critical for starting a sports bar business successfully. This research will help you understand the needs and preferences of your target audience, identify your competition, and determine the demand for your services. Use the above tips to conduct thorough research before starting your venture.

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Develop Business Plan & Financial Model

Before opening a sports bar, it’s crucial to develop a solid business plan and financial model. This will help you navigate the challenges of starting and running a successful business, and ensure that you have the necessary resources to support its growth. Here are the key chapters you should include in your business plan.

  • Executive Summary: This is a brief overview of your business plan, outlining your goals, target market, competitive advantage, and financial projections.
  • Market Analysis: This section should include an analysis of your target market, competition, and industry trends. You should also outline your marketing strategy and tactics.
  • Products and Services: Describe the food and beverage offerings that you’ll serve at your sports bar, and how they’ll appeal to your target audience. This includes both menu items and drinks.
  • Management and Staffing: Outline the structure of your business and the roles and responsibilities of your management team and employees.
  • Financial Strategy: Develop a financial model that projects your revenue, expenses, and cash flow. This will help you determine your break-even point and the resources you need to support your business.
  • Implementation: Define your action plan for opening and launching your sports bar. This includes securing funding, acquiring permits, hiring staff, and marketing your business.
  • Risks and Challenges: Identify the major risks and challenges that your business could face, and develop strategies to mitigate them.

Business Plan Tips:

  • Be realistic in your financial projections, and don’t underestimate your expenses.
  • Include a contingency plan for unexpected risks and challenges.
  • Collaborate with a financial advisor or consultant to ensure the accuracy and feasibility of your financial model.

Building a financial model is a complex process, and it requires a strong grasp of accounting and finance. Here are the key components you should include in your financial model.

  • Revenue Projections: Estimate your monthly and annual revenue, taking into account your menu prices, customer traffic, and the competitive landscape.
  • Cost of Goods Sold: Calculate your cost of goods sold, which includes the cost of ingredients, drinks, and supplies.
  • Operating Expenses: Estimate your monthly operating expenses, such as rent, utilities, payroll, and marketing.
  • Working Capital: Determine your working capital, which is the amount of money you need to cover your short-term expenses and inventory.
  • Profit and Loss Statement: Create a P&L statement that shows your monthly and annual revenue and expenses, as well as your net income.
  • Cash Flow Statement: Develop a cash flow statement that projects your monthly and annual inflows and outflows of cash, and ensures that you have adequate cash reserves to support your business.
  • Balance Sheet: Prepare a balance sheet that shows your assets, liabilities, and equity, and how they change over time.

Financial Model Tips:

  • Use reliable data sources and benchmarks to estimate your revenue and expenses.
  • Build in contingencies for unexpected expenses and revenue shortfalls.
  • Regularly review and update your financial model to reflect changes in your business and the market.

Developing a solid business plan and financial model is critical to the success of your sports bar. It takes time and effort to build a comprehensive plan, but this investment will pay off in the long run by helping you avoid costly mistakes and ensuring that your business is set up for growth and profitability.

Secure Necessary Permits & Licenses

Opening a sports bar business requires more than just a love for sports and beer. You need to obtain certain permits and licenses to avoid legal issues and hefty fines. In this chapter, we'll discuss the necessary permits and licenses you need to obtain to start your sports bar business.

  • Business License: Before you start your sports bar, you need to obtain a general business license from your state. The requirements and fees vary from state to state. Make sure you do your research to ensure you have the correct license for your business structure.
  • Liquor License: Selling alcohol requires a liquor license, which differs between each state. Certain states also require you to get separate licenses for beer, wine, and liquor. The cost and application process can be daunting, but it is crucial to obtain the right liquor license as your sports bar's profitability largely depends on the sale of alcoholic beverages.
  • Food Service Permit: You need to obtain a food service permit to serve food to customers. The permit ensures that your kitchen and food storage areas follow health and safety standards. You'll have to pass an inspection from the health department to receive this permit.
  • Music License: If you plan on playing music at your sports bar, you need to obtain a music license. You also need to ensure you have the right to play any copyrighted music by obtaining permission from the artist or purchasing a license.
  • Building Permit: If you plan on making any changes to the building you're renting or own, such as adding a new bar or renovating the kitchen, you need to obtain a building permit. Failing to do so can result in legal action and fines.
  • Occupancy Permit: Your sports bar must adhere to your city's occupancy laws, which specify the number of people allowed in your establishment at one time. You need to get an occupancy permit from your local government before you open your doors.

Tips & Tricks:

  • Make sure you have all the necessary permits and licenses before opening your sports bar, as not having them can result in hefty fines and legal troubles.
  • Research the legal requirements for obtaining the appropriate permits and licenses in your state to avoid any issues down the line.
  • Don't be afraid to hire a professional to help you navigate the complex application process for certain permits and licenses.

Look For Location

Before you start designing the interior, setting up the menu, or buying equipment for your sports bar, the most crucial consideration is the location. It can directly impact your profit and success. Choosing the wrong location can lead to low sales, fewer customers, and eventual losses. Here's how to get it right:

  • Research your target market: Understand who your potential customers are and what their lifestyle is. Think about their age, income, interests, and trends. You should also consider their accessibility to your bar. For instance, if you're targeting college students, then a location near the campus could be ideal.
  • Evaluate the competition: Check the area for other sports bars, restaurants, and entertainment businesses. Assess their offerings, traffic, and reviews. Look for a gap in the market that you can fill or improve upon.
  • Consider the costs: The location you choose can determine the rent, utilities, insurance, and taxes you'll pay. You might also need to invest in renovation, permits, advertising, and security. Make sure you have a clear budget and forecast for your expenses and revenue.
  • Look for visibility: Your sports bar should be in a prominent location that can be easily seen by foot, car, or public transportation. It should have enough parking space, good signage, and identifiable branding. It should also be safe and accessible for customers of all ages and abilities.

Tips & Tricks:

  • Look for a location with high foot traffic, such as a busy street or shopping center.
  • Check the demographics and psychographics of the area using online tools and surveys.
  • Consider partnering with other businesses, such as a local brewery or sports team, to enhance your brand and exposure.

Develop Concept & Design

Developing a concept and designing your sports bar is the very first step towards opening your business. In this chapter, we will explore different ways through which you can develop the concept of your sports bar and design it in a way that attracts potential customers and makes them want to return.

  • Choose a Theme: First things first, you need to choose a theme for your sports bar. You can choose to go with a general sports theme or choose a specific sports niche such as football or basketball. The theme you choose will help guide the rest of your design process.
  • Layout & Design: Next, you need to consider the layout and design of your sports bar. Your layout should be comfortable to customers and easy to navigate. You should consider setting up various spaces for seating and viewing, such as private viewing booths or a large communal viewing area.
  • Menu & Drinks: You should also put some thought into your menu and drinks. Your menu should be tailored to your theme and your clientele, with classic sports bar fare like wings and burgers, or higher-end dining options if you're targeting a more upscale crowd. Make sure to have a wide selection of beers and other beverages, including non-alcoholic options for those who choose not to drink.

Tips & Tricks:

  • Create a unique signature drink/cocktail that is exclusive to your bar, which can help to increase customer loyalty and word of mouth marketing.
  • Consider offering discounts or promotions to sports teams and clubs. This can encourage them to choose your bar as their go-to spot for post-game celebrations.
  • Invest in comfortable seating like plush couches and chairs, which can help to elevate the overall customer experience, and encourage them to stay longer.

Once you have considered all of these elements and have them incorporated into your sports bar business plan, you can move on to finding the perfect location and financing your venture. The key to a successful sports bar is a commitment to providing excellent service, creating a warm and welcoming atmosphere, and delivering an amazing experience to your customers each time they step through your doors.

Hire & Train Staff

When opening a sports bar business, one of the crucial things you need to do is hiring and training the staff. Your staff can make or break your business, so it's crucial to select the right individuals who are passionate about the industry and possess the necessary skills to ensure your customers have a great experience.

Step 1: Determine Your Staffing Needs

  • Identify the positions you need to fill, such as bartenders, servers, cooks, and dishwashers.
  • What are the staff schedules and shifts?
  • How many employees do you need in each position?
  • Estimate the total hours each position will require on a weekly and monthly basis.

Step 2: Create Job Descriptions

  • Write detailed job descriptions that outline the necessary qualifications, duties, responsibilities, and salary range for each position.
  • Post the job descriptions on relevant websites or job boards.

Step 3: Screen & Interview Candidates

  • Screen resumes and applications to identify the best candidates.
  • Conduct a phone or in-person interview to get to know the candidates and identify potential red flags.
  • Select the top candidates to invite for an in-person interview.

Step 4: Conduct In-Person Interviews

  • Conduct a formal interview with each candidate, either on-site or in a private location.
  • Ask a variety of questions to assess their skills, qualifications, and experience.
  • Provide a tour of the establishment and explain the culture and expectations of the business.

Step 5: Check References and Backgrounds

  • Contact the references provided by the candidate to verify their work history and performance.
  • Conduct background checks to ensure the candidate has no criminal record.
  • Verify their credentials, such as certifications or licenses.

Step 6: Offer Employment and Negotiate Salary

  • Select the best candidate for each position and offer them the job as soon as possible.
  • Negotiate the salary, benefits, and working conditions with each candidate.
  • Have a written agreement that explains any agreements and expectations.

Step 7: Provide Training and Orientation

  • Provide essential training to new hires, including policies and procedures, hospitality practices, safety protocols, and customer service expectations.
  • Offer any additional training and development opportunities to help them improve their skills and perform their jobs more effectively.
  • Provide an orientation that covers the broader aspects of the business culture and company history.

Step 8: Develop a Staffing Plan

  • Create a staffing plan that outlines each employee's schedule and responsibilities, including shift changes and time off requests.
  • Ensure you have enough staff to manage peak hours, events, and holidays.
  • Maintain a backup plan to ensure you have enough replacements available in case of emergencies or unexpected absences.

Step 9: Monitoring and Evaluation

  • Monitor staff performance and provide continuous feedback to address issues and promote excellence.
  • Evaluate the staffing plan on a regular basis and identify opportunities to improve efficiency, cost-effectiveness, and customer satisfaction.
  • Consider employee surveys to get feedback on their work environment, benefits, and concerns.

Step 10: Retention Strategies

  • Create retention strategies to retain your best employees and reduce staff turnover.
  • Offer competitive compensation and benefit packages, such as healthcare benefits, retirement plans, or bonuses.
  • Provide continuous training and development opportunities to help employees improve their skills and advance their careers.

Tips & Tricks

  • Delegate the hiring and training tasks to a dedicated HR manager or mentor.
  • Set realistic standards and expectations for your staff and provide them with the necessary resources and tools to meet these expectations.
  • Invest in staff recognition and appreciation programs to promote a positive work environment and reduce burnout.

Purchase Necessary Equipment & Supplies

Launching a sports bar business requires purchasing the necessary equipment and supplies. This step is crucial for the success of your business, as it directly impacts the operations and customer experience. Here are the steps to consider:

  • Make a list of equipment: Create a list of the equipment necessary to run your sports bar. This list may include items like TVs, sound systems, furniture, coolers, dishware, glassware, and more.
  • Find a supplier: After creating the list of equipment and supplies needed, research and find a reliable supplier. Look for suppliers who offer quality equipment, affordable prices, and excellent customer service.
  • Set a budget: Determine a budget for purchasing the necessary equipment and supplies. Consider any financing options or leasing agreements that may be available.
  • Order and Install: After selecting a supplier and setting a budget, place an order for equipment and supplies. Ensure that installation is conducted according to safety standards and manufacturer instructions.
  • Stock up: Once the equipment is installed, stock up on supplies like alcohol, mixers, and food items. Ensure that you have enough inventory to meet customer demand and have a backup plan in place if supplies run low.

Tips & Tricks:

  • Compare prices and quality from different suppliers to ensure you are getting the best deal.
  • Create a maintenance schedule for equipment to ensure it is functioning properly and to avoid costly repairs.
  • Consider purchasing refurbished equipment to save money without sacrificing quality.

Purchasing necessary equipment and supplies is one of the essential steps in starting a sports bar business. By following the steps outlined above, you can ensure a smooth buying process that sets your business up for success.

Establish Online Presence

As a pro business consultant, I have helped many individuals start and run successful sports bar businesses. One key aspect that is crucial in today’s digital world is establishing a strong online presence. Here are some chapters on how to establish an online presence for your sports bar business:

1. Create a professional website

Your sports bar business needs a professional website, which serves as your business’s online face. Hire a professional web developer to design a website that is optimized for search engines and mobile devices.

  • Make sure your website includes your location, hours of operation, menu, and any events or specials
  • Incorporate high-quality images and videos of your sports bar
  • Include a call-to-action on your website such as “make a reservation” or “place an order”

2. Leverage social media platforms

Social media platforms are essential tools for building an online presence. Potential customers are likely to check out your social media accounts to view your business’s photos, interact with your community, and read reviews. Consider creating accounts on platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn.

  • Post updates, photos, and videos that showcase your sports bar
  • Engage with your followers by responding to comments and messages promptly
  • Use paid social media advertising to target potential customers in your area

3. Monitor and respond to online reviews

Online reviews have a significant influence on a business’s reputation. Make sure to monitor reviews on platforms like Yelp, Google My Business, and Tripadvisor.

  • Respond promptly to negative reviews, showing that you care about your customers and are willing to address their concerns
  • Thank customers who leave positive reviews for taking the time to write about their experience
  • Use feedback from reviews to make improvements to your business

Tips & Tricks for Establishing Online Presence:

  • Use search engine optimization (SEO) techniques
  • Create quality content that is valuable to your target audience
  • Utilize email marketing to reach out to potential customers

Secure External Funding

Starting a sports bar business requires capital, and unless you have enough money saved up, you need to seek external funding. Here are some ways to secure funding for your sports bar venture:

1. Apply for a Small Business Administration (SBA) Loan
  • The SBA provides loans to small businesses with low-interest rates, extended terms, and low down payments.
  • The SBA loans are guaranteed by the government, so it's easier to obtain funding from banks and other financial institutions.

2. Crowdfunding
  • Crowdfunding platforms like Kickstarter and Indiegogo have helped many entrepreneurs raise funds for their projects and businesses.
  • Create a compelling pitch for your sports bar idea and offer rewards for donations.

3. Angel Investors and Venture Capitalists
  • Angel investors and venture capitalists invest in startups and businesses that have potential for growth and profitability.
  • Prepare a solid business plan and a pitch deck that showcases the uniqueness of your sports bar concept.

4. Friends and Family
  • Ask your friends and family members to invest in your sports bar business.
  • Make sure to have a legal agreement and clear terms to avoid misunderstandings and conflicts in the future.

Tips & Tricks:

  • Make sure to have a solid financial plan and projections to convince potential investors.
  • Offer equity or ownership stake in the business to attract investment.
  • Explore grants and loans from local and state governments.

In conclusion, securing external funding is a crucial step in starting a successful sports bar business. Consider all the options available and choose the one that best fits your needs and goals.

Devise Promotional & Advertising Strategies

Promotional and advertising strategies are essential components for the success of a sports bar business. It is important to create a buzz about your business and attract customers. The following outlines steps on how to devise effective promotional and advertising strategies:

  • Define your target audience: Understanding your target audience's demographics and interests is crucial for creating effective advertising and promotional campaigns.
  • Create a brand message: Develop a clear and concise message that defines your brand, differentiates your business from competitors, and resonates with your target audience.
  • Utilize Social Media: In this digital age, social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram are powerful marketing tools for promoting your sports bar. Develop a social media strategy that includes creating and sharing engaging content, interacting with followers, and running social media ads.
  • Develop a website: A well-designed website can help potential customers learn about your business, view your menu, and make reservations. Use search engine optimization (SEO) techniques to make your website rank higher in search engine results.
  • Host events: Consider hosting events such as sports bars, game nights, and trivia nights to attract new customers and retain regulars.
  • Offer promotions and discounts: Everyone loves a good deal! Offering promotions and discounts can attract new customers and keep them coming back.
  • Collaborate with other businesses: Partnering with other businesses such as sports teams, sponsors, or neighboring bars can help promote your business through cross-promotion.
  • Utilize traditional advertising methods: Traditional advertising methods such as billboards, flyers, and newspaper ads can still be effective in reaching potential customers. However, it is important to stay within your budget and plan campaigns strategically.
  • Utilize Influencer Marketing: Partnering with social media influencers who have a significant following can reach a wider audience and boost your brand's visibility.
  • Track and analyze the performance of your campaigns: It is important to track the success of your promotional and advertising campaigns. Analyze the data to see what methods work best and adjust your strategies accordingly.

Tips and Tricks:

  • Utilize user-generated content by incentivizing customers to post photos and reviews of your sports bar on social media using a specific hashtag.
  • Develop a loyalty program that offers rewards and discounts for regular customers.
  • Host charity events and donate a portion of the proceeds to a local organization to create a positive reputation for your business in the community.

In conclusion, starting a sports bar business requires careful planning and execution. As an entrepreneur, you need to be well-informed about the market trends and the potential customer base. As per the market research, the global sports bar market size is expected to reach a staggering $1.82 billion by 2023. You need to have a solid business plan and financial model in place to secure external funding. Finding the right location, developing a concept, hiring and training the staff, and purchasing necessary equipment and supplies are a few other crucial elements to consider. Establishing a robust online presence and devising promotional and advertising strategies can help you attract more customers to your sports bar. By following these 10 essential steps, you can set your sports bar business for success and tap into the ever-growing demand for sports bars. Good luck!

Excel financial model

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