It's the phrase that publicans despise. The insinuation that running a pub is an easy job, that it just entails sitting at the end of the bar with a G&T playing 'mine host'. I do have sympathy for people coming into this industry under these false pretences, but I hope they take heed of my first warning. Being a good publican isn't a lifestyle — it is your life.
Running a pub is the most versatile job I can imagine, involving everything from barman to bookkeeper, chef to cleaner, pot-washer to plumber, plus everything in between — and I love it! It isn't an easy career path to take if you don't adapt. You can spot a disheartened publican from the beer quality, beer, pub cleanliness and staff demeanour.
Attitudes are changed from the top: an enthusiastic host breeds great staff, which attracts great customers. Being a publican can also be the most rewarding job — if you're good at your job you'll know this. You'll be flattered when staff start mimicking your sales patter, or customers echo your recommendations to their friends. You'll smile when your staff welcome your regulars by pouring their drink before they even reach the bar. You can become an integral part of the community, raising money for local charities, watching locals' relationships develop and families grow, celebrating good news with them and being there for them on darker days.
So my second warning goes out to enthusiastic, hard-working publicans. It's a lesson I'm trying to teach myself. 'When I retire...' is a long way off and it's important to remember whose life it is!
Your customers don't own you and your pub won't fall apart without you. If you run a great pub you'll have great staff who will become part of the community alongside the customers, and who will be just as happy as you to share their trials and triumphs with them.
It's impossible to stay productive and keep a smile on your face for more than 70 hours a week — so cut down your hours. You'll find that you get more done and you'll be happier too.
Make time for your life, your loved ones, your friends and your interests — after all, this is a tough job. You might not be up to much when you retire!