1. Is it the life for you?
Being a licensee is a lifestyle choice. It will become your job and your social life and you will have to be prepared to work from early-morning deliveries through to drinking-up time. Ask yourself if you can smile, listen and talk to your customers at all times, as well as manage your own team, finances and accounts. If the answer is ‘yes’ to all of these questions, then owning a pub can be an extremely rewarding experience.
2. What can you afford?
An early understanding of the costs involved in buying a business and an appreciation of what you will be able to afford will save you significant time and effort.
3. Research and seek professional advice
Consider the pros and cons of the outlets available and visit each one on several occasions at different times of the day and different days of the week. Understand the trading patterns, the type of customers, and the things that the present operators do well or could be improved on. Seek to understand how the business ticks and what you would do differently.
4. Trading accounts
Obtain all the trading information the vendor has available. This should be in the form of audited accounts, VAT returns, recent management figures and weekly takings. Bear in mind that all accounts by their nature are historic. They are, however, a good source of information to enable you to assess likely trading levels in future.
5. Condition and repairs
Get a survey of the property before proceeding with a purchase. If you are taking responsibility for the building’s repairs you need to understand the condition of the premises and the responsibility you will be taking on before you sign any undertaking.
6. Are you paying the right price?
If you are borrowing money to finance the purchase, you will undoubtedly need a valuation as part of the loan application. But you should still consider having this done if you are purchasing with cash, to advise you of the value of the business in the market at the present time. Investing in a professional valuation at this point can save you from making a mistake, which could be far more costly later.
7. Qualifications and training
You need to have the necessary qualifications and training in order to obtain your personal licence and operate a business that will involve health and safety, employment and financial laws. Anyone new to the trade or seeking to brush up on their technical knowledge may wish to consider training courses run by professional bodies such as the BII (British Institute of Innkeeping).