The importance of waiting for the right pub

Take your time to find the pub that is right for you – otherwise you may regret your decision later.  Decisions taken in a hurry are not always the best ones.

When you start looking for a pub to let it can be a bit of a rollercoaster experience.  A pub comes up in your chosen location, you pin all your hopes and dreams on it, and then someone else gets in there first and you’re back to square one. It’s not dissimilar to house buying, except that in this case you’re looking for a viable and profitable business opportunity.

If you’ve had a few knockbacks it can be tempting to apply for any pub that’s available, but this is a mistake.  Remember this is where you are going to be spending a lot of your time over the next few years.  You need to be happy with the pub, its location, clientele and the style of the pub.  It has to be right for you.

The Perfect Pub

Our job at Greene King is to match landlords with their perfect pub.  Having the right amount of cash is not enough.  Being ready to take on a pub quickly is advantage, but is still not enough if the pub (or the landlord) isn’t right.   

When you take on a pub tenancy it is a commitment.  You’ll be spending long hours in the pub, perhaps also living there, and a poor match can quickly be regretted by all parties.  Discontent with the style or location of the pub means that a landlord is less likely to enjoy spending time in the pub, and will not give it the attention it really deserves.  Opening up each day becomes a chore rather than a pleasure.  Reluctant landlords will eventually feel almost antagonistic towards the pub because it is not really what they want. An unhappy landlord can deter customers who feel unwelcome, and eventually vote with their feet and go elsewhere.  The result is a fall in profits and turnover, which only makes the landlord even more unhappy. Such a situation often results in a landlord terminating contracts early.

On the other hand a happy landlord, content with their choice of pub, will have the opposite effect.  Customers will feel welcome; they will come again and often bring their friends.  If you are happy in the pub, then you are more likely to make a success of the business.  Turnover and profits will be good and the landlord will look forward to starting work each day.

Choose The Pub You Really Want

Therefore choosing the right pub for you is crucial. This means getting a clear idea of what kind of pub is right for you, the location and external factors such as schools and facilities, as well as financial considerations.

So what should you consider when looking at the list of available pubs?  Begin by making a list of exactly what you want and the areas in which you can compromise.  Key elements are location and style of trading. 


You may already have a clear idea of location. Perhaps you’re looking in the area you currently already live, or planning a move to be closer to family, or even somewhere new. Many people contact us with a very specific location in mind, which is great because it narrows the search, but it does limit what’s available. We recommend that you widen your search initially, this means that you get to visit lots of different opportunities and form a better idea of what pub works for you.

However, certain factors about the location will need to be addressed. If you have a family, schools will be a priority and other factors such as leisure facilities and public transport may come into the equation.

The location of individual pubs may also affect the way you run the pub. If the pub is in a rural location you may struggle to recruit staff to work in it, and therefore you will need to take on more of the day-to-day operation. If your ideal scenario is to install a pub manager, then you may have to consider a more populated area to attract staff.

Consider also the building style of your potential pub.  A heritage pub can look very pretty, but does require more maintenance than a modern pub.

Style Of Trading

What style of trading do you want? Are you a chef looking to develop your catering skills while trading as a pub? Do you want a gastro pub, gourmet dining or simply provide bar food? A tourist orientated pub perhaps offering accommodation as well will be very different to a local pub providing community services such as a little shop. Do you want a pub that is closely involved with the local community, offering lots of local events or do you prefer something more formal within a town attracting visitors, office workers and other employees from local businesses.  These are very different markets and publicans need varying skills to adapt to these markets successfully, and to build a successful niche within them.  

If you’re not really sure what style of pub would suit you, it is a good idea to visit as many pubs as possible in your chosen area and consider whether they would work for you. Don’t limit this to pubs that are available, go and talk to landlords in other pubs about what it’s like and benefit from some really good insights into the pub trade. At the same time this may help you explore the location in more depth, and perhaps identify areas that you had not considered before.

Interested In A Specific Pub?

If you have a really specific type of pub such as an area, a pub style, or even a pub you would really love to run – talk to the brewery. Let them know of your interest, just in case such a pub becomes available.  Situations can change rapidly and a query in advance may open unexpected doors.  Sometimes a brewery may have a similar pub that they know is about to become available – by being aware of your potential interest, you can be given first choice.  Work with the brewery. Talk to them about the pubs on offer, and they may be able to advise on developments or pubs about to come on the market.

It can be frustrating to have to wait for the right pub to appear, but it is worth it in the long run.  Always ask yourself, ‘will I be happy living and working in this pub?’ Having a pub that suits you in every respect will ensure a great experience and long term success.