How to choose the right pub for you

Congratulations! You’ve decided that running a pub is right for you. You know that it’s a lifestyle choice, involving managing people and hard work, but you believe that it’s your route to career satisfaction and a great way to start your own business. Your next step is to find the right pub.

Finding A Pub To Run

There will be many factors that you need to consider when choosing the a pub to run, but having a little flexibility will certainly help you identify the right pub. Of course, you will have personal preferences such as location, character and facilities, but remember you can put your own stamp on your pub so will a bit of vision you can create exactly what you’re looking for.

Here we explore those key factors that will help you find the perfect pub for you.

Identify what is most important to you

‘Location is probably the first factor that comes into most people’s minds when they’re looking for a pub to run,’ say Bob Luke and Dick Cobb, pub partners’ recruitment managers for Greene King. ‘You may be looking at schools, wanting to stay in the area where you live or have a particular pub in mind.’ Not having to spend time or money commuting is a big advantage to running a pub, but you may need to factor in a partner’s travel time if he or she is going to stay in their job.

But don’t close your mind

‘Keep your options open,’ advises Dick. ‘If you’re prepared to re-locate, you’re much more likely to find exactly the right pub for your lifestyle. Certain areas are particularly difficult – it’s rare for a pub to come available in central London, for example. Young people and empty nesters are usually prepared to move. Families often don’t want to disrupt schooling. But sometimes taking over a pub can be a way of experiencing somewhere that you wouldn’t normally live – in a picture-perfect village, for example, or by the sea, or a town where it would otherwise be too expensive to buy or rent.’

What is your favourite pub?

‘We always ask people what their own favourite pub is,’ says Bob. ‘Most people have a pub in mind that they relate to. Talk to the publican who runs it. Then consider a wide range of other pubs, and try to talk to the people who run them.’

First impressions count

Bob and Dick have spent a lifetime working as publicans and in the brewing industry. They’ve seen a lot of successes and failures. And one thing they emphasise is that you ‘know’ when a pub is right for you immediately. ‘You need to be happy with the environment,’ says Dick. ‘If you don’t feel comfortable the first time you walk in the door, you never will.’ Of course, you can re-decorate, renovate, or even change the character of the pub completely. But you still need an instinctive initial feeling that you will be happy there.

Then do your research

Once you have identified a pub or pubs, do your research, say Dick and Bob. Look at the competition. That doesn’t just mean other pubs, but all the other places to eat and drink in the area. ‘Forty years ago, there wasn’t usually any alternative to the pub,’ says Bob. ‘Now people have a huge amount of choice when they go out.’ When you find a pub you like check it out – and its competition –  on both busy nights and quiet ones. ‘Go there on Friday night and Saturday night – and then again on Wednesday evening,’ advises Dick.

Do a business plan

You’ll need to do a business plan before taking on a Greene King pub. If you haven’t done one before, we make it easy by supplying you with a template. We also give you a ‘shadow’ estimate of the profit and loss in available pubs. Publicans run their own businesses, so we don’t necessarily see their exact figures, but we can estimate how well a pub is doing, and you can benefit from that estimate. So you need to ask yourself how much it will cost you to re-decorate or re-equip, if you want to do that. And if you want to major on food, or create a mini-boutique hotel (or do any other speciality activity), make sure that the facilities are already there or that you know how much they will cost to put in. Every bedroom needs an en-suite bathroom these days, and a gastro-pub with the wrong number of tables or too small a kitchen won’t make any money.

Talk to other breweries

‘We always advise people to talk to our competition as well,’ says Dick. ‘We feel confident you’ll come back to us because we give you face-to-face time. And it’s always good to know what’s out there.’

If at first you don’t succeed…

‘Sometimes you won’t get the first pub you go for,’ warns Bob. ‘But we’ll stay in touch and keep our eye out. When something comes up that we think might be right for you, we’ll contact you.’

If you want us to let you know when the perfect pub comes up for you, get in touch today. You can either contact us for further information or a chat about your options, or start the application process straightaway!

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