Do you need experience of running a pub before taking on a pub tenancy?

Taking on a pub tenancy is a popular option for anyone wanting to set up a new business with the support of an established company behind them.  Leisure and hospitality are expanding sectors, and there will always be a need for pubs!  People like to go somewhere where they can relax and socialise; have a drink or chat over a business lunch.

While prior experience running a pub does help, it is not the only factor we look at when it comes to taking on a pub tenancy. Enthusiasm, personality, business skills, an ability to manage people, sales and marketing ability can be just as helpful. Retailers, business people, human resources executives and even an ex-headteacher have become licensees with Greene King.

The great thing about a pub tenancy is that you’re not alone. It’s your business, you get to drive it forward, take responsibility for the day-to-day operation, staffing, customer service etc., but you do this fully supported by the brewery or pub company that owns the pub.

That’s why previous experience working in the pub trade isn’t a prerequisite of our application process. We’re on the look out for entrepreneurial people from all walks of life, who have the potential to build an exciting and profitable business.

Training And Support Makes A Difference

The essential skills to run a pub can be acquired through training, and Greene King make sure that every licensee is given all the support needed to run a pub successfully.

Our award winning courses provide all the practical and business tools necessary from the very beginning.  There are introductory courses designed to ensure you can obtain the statutory British Institute of Inn Keeping Pre-Entry Awareness Training (PEAT); courses to enable you to pass the licensing laws examination; learn how to manage a cellar to ensure consistent quality; how to provide a good customer experience and increase revenue; and monitor financial controls to name just a few of the training options available. 

You can learn how to set up book keeping systems, undertake VAT calculations and construct profit & loss accounts, or to manage your social media and marketing strategies.

Business Development Managers

In addition, Greene King provide a lot of support via our Business Development Managers.  All licensees have a Business Development Manager who will work with them to create business plans and be their first point of contact for any questions or advice relating to their pub. 

Greene King Business Development Managers are highly experienced.  Many have run their own pubs.  They know the industry and have unrivalled expertise in the pub sector.  They can advise on all aspects of running a pub whether it be marketing techniques, maintenance issues, or simply giving suggestions based on what they have seen working within other pubs in their area.

Transferable Skills

Having experience of running a pub or working in hospitality will undoubtedly be helpful.  If you are a chef or professional caterer, then you will already have the skills and qualifications to run a kitchen and deliver good customer service.  Anyone working with people, in retail or business will have obtained skills that are easily transferable. You will know how to manage staff and how to run a business. Dealing with customers and maximising sales is a common skill across many industries. 

What’s Really Needed!

What is more important than having prior experience in the pub industry is enthusiasm, willingness to work hard and having the entrepreneurial instinct to make running a business a success.  You have to be willing to accept challenges, be sociable and polite even when you are exhausted after working a long day in the pub.

Having the right personality and being prepared to work hard is much more important than having run a pub in the past. Someone who is willing to be flexible, versatile and open to ideas could well be much more successful as a modern pub landlord than someone who may have worked in a pub, but has preconceived ideas and is not willing to move with the times.

Greene King has worked with enthusiastic, keen people from all walks of life to develop extremely viable and successful businesses.  What’s important is that you want to learn, acquiring the skills necessary to running a modern pub, and have ambition.  Talk to Greene King and discuss your plans and ideas – with the aid of our Business Development Managers, those ideas could easily become reality.

Updating Knowledge

If you have worked in the pub trade before, whether as a manager, as bar staff or have had a tenancy in the past, you will have lots of valuable experience to use if you take on a new pub tenancy. However, times have changed! The industry has become increasingly competitive, with pubs having to compete with a range of other hospitality venues for trade, as well as the supermarkets for sales of alcohol.

While basic skills such as changing a barrel, serving a pint and taking orders for meals remain the same; other aspects of the pub operation will have changed.

As a result, if you’ve been out of the business for while you may find your industry knowledge is a little rusty.  Licensing laws and regulations change, as well as food safety.  New trends appear such as the recent demand for cocktails and mocktails, which involves having to learn lots of different recipes and techniques to mix the drinks. Menus that may have been satisfactory five years ago, are no longer acceptable today.  Consumer tastes and requirements have changed. Having preconceived ideas as to what has worked in the past and being unwilling to adapt those ideas to running a pub today, will not be beneficial. 

Likewise business operation methods may have changed. Tax laws, accountancy and marketing methods are constantly evolving.  This means that everyone, whether experienced in pub work or not, will need similar training even if it is just updating and improving existing skills.

Many of our established licensees continue to use our training courses to update their skills and learn new things to enable them to be competitive. For example, we’ve recently introduced a digital marketing course to help licensees master social media and online marketing. While many of our younger licensees are naturally adept at these activities, our more mature licensees know that they need to embrace these changes if they want to get customers through the door.

There is a diverse skillset needed to be a successful licensee, but if you are willing to learn and can draw on relevant experience and your own personal qualities, there’s no reason why you can’t make a pub tenancy a great success.