Could You Be A Pub Landlord?

Written by: Pub Partners Team
Date added: Mon, 28/12/2015 - 10:00

What makes a great pub landlord? Many of us will know of landlords who making running a pub look like a great business choice. Others, we may question why they got into the pub trade at all! If you think being a publican might be for you, read this post where our Pub Partners team explore the qualities needed to be a successful pub landlord.

Essential Characteristics Of A Great Pub Landlord

Do you need a background in catering or hospitality to be a pub landlord? And is it a career mainly for men, or for couples working together? Absolutely not, according to Bob Luke and Dick Cobb, Greene King’s pub partners recruitment managers: ‘You need to be passionate about what you do, as well as energetic,’ says Bob. ‘And a confident personality helps, too. The skills are less important. We can help you top up your training if necessary.’

Why women make great pub landlords

‘Women make excellent pub landlords,’ adds Dick. That’s mainly because women can be better around people. Running a pub can be almost like running a home, only on a much larger scale. Dick and his wife used to run a pub, and he says that his wife was always better at defusing potentially difficult situations. ‘Aggressive situations are surprisingly rare in pubs, but they can occur anywhere. It’s often easier for a woman to sort a problem out without everyone feeling even more threatened.’

13% of our pubs are currently run by women, and this figure is increasing.

If you love working with people…

The most important qualification you need for running a pub is that you have to love working with people. ‘Teachers, special needs teachers, NHS managers, former police officers or civil servants...even school dinner ladies – they’re all professions that make an ideal starting point for running a pub,’ says Bob. ‘Although I don’t think school dinner ladies exist anymore….’ he adds, regretfully.

Or you want to run your own business…

Entrepreneurs wanting to get a foot in the door of starting their own businesses would also find running a pub a relatively affordable way of starting up. But in some senses anyone wanting to run a pub needs to have an entrepreneurial streak in them. An enterprising chef, of course, would be interested in running a pub because it’s a low-cost way of starting up – but unless you’re running a gastro-pub, you don’t even need chef skills. ‘In many pubs you need a cook, not a chef,’ says Bob. People in most pubs just want good food served well.’

Previous skills can be an asset

Accountants, book-keepers, marketing executives - and many others - can use their previous skills in running a pub. For example, if you’ve worked in retail or in marketing, you’ll be aware of trends. ‘But that can be about personality, too,’ says Dick. ‘You don’t need a marketing background, but it’s good if you’re a person who’s aware of fashions and how the news affects your business. Like any trade, pubs are affected by lots of different factors. ‘The grey market, for example, changed radically after the 2008 crash,’ he explains. ‘Almost overnight all the grandparents who used to take their families out for lunch in pubs disappeared, because low interest rates hit the savings of pensioners.’ On the other hand, there are always other opportunities to fill the gap, so you need to be smart about spotting them.

Good to have

When you run a pub, you’ll be managing people, stock and finances, plus over-seeing the catering and bar supplies. So any experience you have in any of those areas will be invaluable. But if you don’t have the required experience, Greene King have training courses. You’ll also be responsible for legal issues and marketing, which is where a link to a brewery helps. Greene King can help you through legal and marketing issues if you need assistance.

All you need is energy, drive and passion…

Skills are less important than energy and attitude, say Bob and Dick. If you run a Greene King pub, there’s a range of training courses you can take to fill any skills gap, and there’s also a ‘First 100 Days’ programme, where you can work more closely with Greene King to take advantage of the support they can offer. Running a pub is for people who are confident about working with other people, and who are happy to chat,’ explain Dick. ‘And most importantly, you have to be able to look at customers as a business proposition without your own personal dislikes colouring your attitude to them,’ warns Bob. ‘If, for example, you don’t like people in shell suits and one comes into the pub, you can’t allow your prejudices to show.’

You need to value being part of a community

Pubs these days aren’t always about being local: ‘People will now drive quite a distance to go to their favourite pub,’ explains Bob. But a pub is at the heart of its own community, whether that’s about a place, a type of food, a sport or a hobby. ‘A pub doesn’t work as well when the landlord hides in the back office,’ says Dick. ‘You need to be comfortable when engaging people with small talk. And you also need to be discreet because a pub is a place where customers come in to relax. They may bounce ideas off you or tell you intimate details. You’ve got to be comfortable dealing with that and keeping secrets secret.’

So what sort of person should NEVER run a pub?

Bob and Dick have been in the pub business for a combined 60+ years, so they’ve seen lots of good – and bad – landlords. ‘If someone comes up to me and says “I should run a pub. I love giving dinner parties” I know they’re probably not the right person.’ says Bob. ‘Running a pub isn’t like giving a dinner party for friends and getting paid for it. It really is different when you’re serving food and drink commercially.’

‘If you’re not a sociable person, then it would be very difficult to enjoy running a pub or to run a successful pub,’ adds Dick. ‘It really is a people business.’

Above all, they say, you won’t be a successful pub landlord if you’re looking at it to solve your problems. For example, pubs in England and Wales usually have accommodation, so some people consider running a pub in order to have a low-cost place to live. ‘That never works,’ say Dick and Bob. ‘You need energy, drive and a passion for working with people rather than a desire for three bedrooms at an affordable price.’

So could you run a pub?

If you’re looking for a life change and you want to be your own boss, come and talk to our recruitment team about whether you’ve got what it takes. Greene King are probably the only pub company who have people like them to talk to you face-to-face – and honestly – about the business of running a pub.

‘We’ll be very clear about what we offer and what we can’t do,’ says Bob. ’We’ll help you identify what sort of a pub would work for you, how to top up any skills gaps, and we’ll tell you the truth about whether running a pub is or isn’t for you.’

You can contact us directly for more information about running a pub with Greene King.

Or come to one of our open days – details of forthcoming events can be found here.