Our BDMs' top tips for becoming a multi-site pub operator

For many pub operators taking on another site and becoming a multi-site operator is a logical next step having run a successful pub. If you’ve maximised the potential of your existing pub and you’ve got a great team delivering a great customer experience, you may now be looking around for a new opportunity.

Without a doubt, becoming a multi-site pub operator is a key way to make your business more profitable. Another site, while obviously increasing your costs and overheads, also offers many financial benefits.

To help you decide whether it’s the right time to scale up and take on another pub, we asked our Business Development Managers for their top tips for becoming a multi-site operator.

Are You Ready To Take On Another Pub?

Take a week’s holiday!

Get away from your current site for a week or two to see how your managers cope without you. Are they able to deal with issues as they arise, can they maintain the standards and quality you expect, do other staff have confidence in them, and are customers happy when you’re not around? If you answer ‘no’ to any of these questions your first job is to ensure that they can run the pub successfully without you for a couple of weeks.

Are you able to delegate?

If you’re not good at delegating, now’s the time to get some practice in! You can’t run a multi-site business without delegating so make sure you have the right people around you that you can delegate to - people you have confidence in - so you don’t end up micro-managing both pubs.

Audit the systems you have in place

Can you easily scale the systems you have in place in your current site to include a new pub? Everything from ordering and cash control to staffing, training and marketing and will need be scaled up to ensure that both pubs are run smoothly and no detail is overlooked. It’s a good opportunity to audit your current systems and make improvements so that your business is optimised for growth. Also write out all your procedures for everything from recruitment to emergencies such as power cuts, natural disasters and even terrorist threats. Coach your staff in all these procedures so they become second nature.

Book a place on the Greene Multi-Site Operator Course!

Running one pub is a million miles apart from running two pubs so attending a course is a great way to start this process. You’ll not only learn a lot about running a multi-site business but it’s also an opportunity to take stock and access whether you’re ready to take on another pub.

Do you have the right infrastructure in your existing pub, the cashflow and ability to absorb the initial set up costs such as fixtures and fittings, deposit, legal etc.? What about staffing and managing scenarios such as a pub manager leaving without warning: how will you keep both pubs open if this was to happen?

Greene King’s Multi-Site Operator Course is open to anyone who is thinking about taking on another site, it’s not inclusive to Greene King partners. More details can be found here.

Tips For Finding A Second Site

Location – keep travel between sites to a minimum

Multi-site operators need to be able to move between sites without spending hours travelling. Potentially you may need to make this trip several times a day – particularly in the early days when you’re getting the new site up and running and your existing pub team is getting used to the new set up.

Is the pub a good fit?

While some operators want a challenge when they take on a new pub, we don’t recommend that you take a pub that needs a completely different skills set. For example, if you’re a wet-led specialist taking on a pub that’s focused on food or vice versa is not a good idea. Instead, play to your strengths and look for opportunities that offer the chance to complement and build on your existing business and skills.

Get a good understanding of the marketplace

Even if your new site is just a few minutes away from your current pub, there will be different factors to contend with. You might have more competition in close proximity or perhaps a slightly different customer demographic. Make sure you understand the differences between the different marketplaces and how that will impact the way you run each site.

Advice for preparing to launch a new site

Appoint a manager who shares your values

Make sure the person you are leaving to run your existing site has the same values, work ethic and standards as you have.

Make sure you have the right staff

You’ll need two teams that both understand how you want to run your pubs, the quality of customer service, the attention to detail etc. Many operators find that it’s a good strategy to promote from within, providing staff with more responsibility by moving to the new site or stepping up in the existing pub. It’s often easier to recruit for more junior roles than find people with the right experience and ethos to fill the more senior positions, so explore how you can use your current staff across both sites. Quality staff are key to a successful 2nd site.

Empower your team and be a good coach

Your role is increasingly to lead your team and provide them with everything they need to run your pubs for you. Give them responsibility, give them the right training, be available to offer any support they need, and have in place everything they need to do their jobs successfully and even better than you!

Scale down your presence in your current pub

In the 6 months before you take on your new pub gradually reduce your hours in the existing pub so that your staff and customers get used to you not being there. Use this time to put in place the procedures and systems needed to run both pubs smoothly, develop your business plans for both sites, recruit and train staff and plan the launch of the new site.

Be consistent

If you have a formula that works, stick to it. Consistency is good for your brand, your staff and for your customers. This is not just about the offer but the standards and disciplines required to role out the brand successfully to more than one site.

Protect your business

Install covert CCTV (accessible from a smartphone) to provide additional security when you’re not on site. This will help you resolve any issues concerning trust and staffing, and in many cases provides reassurance that your business is in safe hands. Also implement minimum 4 weeks stocktakes.

Naturally when you take on a new site a large amount of your time will be spent on developing that business while your current pub trades as normal. However, ultimately you will want both pubs to run smoothly without you, so that you can focus on increasing profits and improving the customer experience across your portfolio of pubs. So make sure that you put in place scalable and transferable systems and procedures in the new pub from the offset, so you can step back and work on the business as a whole as soon as that pub has been successfully launched.

For more details of Greene King’s Multi-Site Pub Operator course click here.