Getting the right training - what skills do you need to run a pub?

One of the most common questions I get asked by people thinking about becoming a pub landlord, is ‘what skills do I need to run a pub?’ As with any other small business, the landlord or business owner needs to have a whole host of different skills to make their pub successful. The good news is that many of these skills can be learnt as you go along, especially if you partner with a pub company with a good training scheme.

However there are some essential skills and attributes that will give you the best chance of running a successful pub business - some of which are so important that if you don’t have them the pub trade is probably not for you.

Here’s my list of ‘must haves’ and ‘nice to haves’, and some tips on how to get the training or experience you require to run a pub.

‘Must Have’ Skills To Run A Pub

Great with people

It goes without saying that the pub business is a people business and therefore potential landlords must be good with other people. However, it’s surprising how many pub landlords don’t have this essential skill! I’m sure many of us have popped into a pub we’ve never been to before, and been surprised by the reception we received. We all have our off days but if you run a pub you really must be prepared to leave your bad mood or worries at the door, and give your customers service with a smile.

Business know-how

It’s not essential to have run your own business before taking on a pub, in fact a pub business is the perfect starter business for someone leaving fulltime employment or the Services. However, having business acumen is very beneficial. Although the pub trade is sociable and fun, it’s still about turning a profit. Once again, many pub companies and breweries offer training courses, such as our Go For Growth course, to give landlords these business skills.

It’s so important to have the drive and passion to make your pub succeed.  Often people come to the pub trade from managing other businesses within or outside of the hospitality industry or have a family background in the trade and are enthusiastic and confident that they can succeed at running their own business.

Of course you do not have to have worked in a pub to become a landlord, the reason why we offer training courses is to suit the needs of landlords. Your support team and BDM (business development manager) will help you get any of the training you need or want.

Good communicator

Not only will your customers expect you to be happy to chat and easy to interact with, but you will also have staff and suppliers that you will need to communicate with. Managing a team of staff requires excellent communication skills so that everyone understands what their responsibilities are, and what your expectations are of them. Inevitably there will be times when you may have to address staff issues, perhaps someone who’s not pulling their weight or maybe not getting on with other people in the team. In these instances, you’ll need to be able to communicate clearly without becoming emotionally involved, ensuring that you deal with difficult situations in a professional way.

Excellent organisational skills

All small business owners need to be able to organise many different tasks during their working day. The pub landlord is no exception! You’ll need to juggle managing staff, taking deliveries, stock control, running a kitchen, maintenance, cleaning, events, marketing and a whole host of other activities, so having excellent organisational skills will help you multi-task efficiently.

Expert delegator:

You won’t have to do all the above tasks yourself, but if you are going to get other people to help you’ll need to be good at delegating. Communication skills are also needed here to make sure that when you delegate a task it gets done in the way you want, to the standard you expect.

‘Nice To Have’ Skills For A Pub Landlord

Financial management skills

Managing the books is an important aspect of running a business, ensuring that you always have an eye on your finances and therefore can respond to changes and address issues quickly, plan for the future and grow a successful pub business. Fortunately, all these skills can be learnt if you haven’t had this experience before; and pub companies like Greene King have tailor-made training courses available for our landlords to help them manage the costs and profitability of their pub.

Marketing skills

Although many pubs will have a merry band of regulars you will still need to attract new people to your pub, and remind regulars to come back for more. If you have some marketing experience or just a natural flair for thinking of interesting and attractive promotional ideas, you’ll find this aspect of running your pub a bit easier. There’s lots of help available online, like social media courses and tips for promoting events and special offers; you can also learn a lot from watching what other pubs in the area are doing, and creating your own versions of their successes.

Food preparation and hygiene

Many people come into the pub trade having had a background in catering. Even if you don’t intend to cook by yourself, employ a cook, understanding what’s required in a professional kitchen is a useful skill to have. If you do have a professional catering background, or are even a keen amateur, the pub business can really help you establish yourself as a top chef and pub landlord, as Tom Kerridge explains in this video.

So, do you have those ‘must have’ skills that are a great indicator that you have the right temperament to be a pub landlord? If so don’t worry too much about the ‘nice to have’ skills as there is plenty of support available to help you learn these and more.