Why Retail Managers Make Great Pub Operators

retail, pub tenancy, pub to let, manager
Written by: Pub Partners Team
Date added: Tue, 28/08/2018 - 10:00

If you can sell clothes or food or indeed any other type of merchandise, then you can sell beer!  Retail skills are invaluable when it comes to running a pub, making retail managers ideal pub operators.  In fact, the sheer number of transferable skills common to retailers and pub operators are so great that anyone with this kind of experience has a huge advantage when moving into the pub business.

Most of the skills a retail manager uses every day are instantly transferable to a pub environment.  After all, pubs are retail outlets, not that different to a high street shop.  Just think of the skills involved in retail management such as customer care, stock control, understanding profit margins and financial control, recruitment, leadership and management skills – these are all equally relevant when you’re running a pub.  Previous experience involving these skills immediately increases your chances of making a success in a pub operation.

Customer service and sales

Pub operators, and their staff, deal with the public every day, just like someone accustomed to managing a retail outlet.  Pubs thrive on repeat custom, people coming back time and time again. If customers are unhappy, they will not return and all too frequently, will tell others of their poor experience. 

A retail manager knows the importance of good customer service and how to create it by providing the products and experience customers want to make them return on a regular basis. They know how to approach customers, how to talk to them and engage in conversations that can often lead to the purchase of additional items. In a pub environment this is extremely important. Encouraging customers to try new drinks or the food offer, purchase bar snacks, return for an event such as quiz nights or book a private room for a party can increase customer spend substantially.

A retail manager’s communication skills are equally invaluable when liaising with local authorities, suppliers and the local community.  An ability to establish good relationships and communicate messages effectively is crucial to the success of a pub.

Management skills

Retail managers are also used to supervising staff, monitoring their work and undertaking the admin involved in managing staff such as health & safety, work records and payroll.  Every successful retail manager knows how to motivate a team, introduce new work practices, hire and fire staff when necessary.

Many of the qualifications needed by retailers are equally valuable when it comes to operating a pub.  The training and knowledge gained when obtaining management qualifications is an obvious asset, as are any qualifications managing and training staff.  Anyone who has been involved in the retail of beer or wine will be fully conversant with licensing issues, and will have undergone basic training.  Similarly, any manager involved in selling food whether it is in a high street store or a fast food outlet will understand health & safety requirements and the food preparation skills essential for supervising a pub kitchen and providing a food offer.

You’ll also have plenty of experience dealing with the back office and admin.  It is part of normal business life.  Moving to running a pub business is no different.  Just like operating a store, pub operators are also responsible for maintaining sales records, stock control, staffing, regulatory requirements etc.

The key difference is that you’re doing it for yourself. Taking on a pub tenancy or lease is about running your own business, rather than being a manager for a retail brand.

Entrepreneurial skills

Successful retail managers need to have an entrepreneurial streak. They are responsible for the day-to-day operation of their outlet, and maximising the opportunities in their location to attract and sell to customers.  Promotional and marketing opportunities can arise unexpectedly for example, responding to a change in the weather by promoting cold drinks in a heat wave, or putting a supply of umbrellas at the front of the store when heavy rain is forecast.  A good retail manager will always be conscious of potential opportunities, and looking for ways to improve the operation of their store. Pub operators need to be equally entrepreneurial, after all this is their business and its success depends on the effort they put into it.

Personal qualities

Anyone who has undergone retail training and been accustomed to managing a store will find that similar personal qualities are needed when operating a pub.  Most of all you need to be a people person because whether you’re talking to customers, managing staff, or dealing with suppliers the business revolves around people.

Good communication skills, leadership qualities, the ability to work in a team, and of course an outgoing and gregarious nature, are all essential.

Ultimately pubs are retail outlets.  Having retail experience and skills are clearly beneficial.  Not surprisingly, increasing numbers of retail managers are turning to pubs as a great way of establishing their own business. If you’ve been thinking about starting up your own business, whether that’s an independent shop or buying into a retail franchise, we would recommend that you also look at whether the pub tenancy or lease model could offer you the opportunities you want.

Many of our pub partners who have come from a retail background are not only running one successful pub based on their experience and skills, but have expanded and become multi-site operators. There’s real scope for building an exciting and rewarding business, using those skills you have from working in retail.

If you would like to explore this opportunity in more detail contact our team or come to our next Recruitment Roadshow. Click here to for dates and to book your place.