The idea of running a pub can be quite attractive – running your own business, managing your own hours, and being in charge of your own career. Even better, being part of the fabric of the community and supplying a social hub for your area.
No one’s going to tell you it’s easy to run a pub, but when was the last time someone told you it was easy to run a business? It’s a platitude to let you know it’s going to be hard, but if it’s something you’re passionate about then you need to know what you’re up against. Starting a pub is going to be extremely difficult under the current climate of fitness, no smoking and general frugality. You will certainly need to have a good understanding of both online and offline marketing, a unique selling point and a number of strong selling points. Interestingly, JD Wetherspoons pubs literally pin George Orwell’s advice to the walls of their different establishments. If you are looking for ideas and inspiration, a good starting point therefore may be Orwell’s article The Moon Under the Water which provides a detailed description of his ideal pub.
Traditionally, being young isn’t an advantage, but despite the number of pubs closing, the number of young people running pubs has actually increased. Many of these young people are buying struggling pubs outright, and others are taking on a franchise, with a larger company sharing the burden, in exchange for revenue share and a rental agreement.
The right type of person to run a pub
Like we said earlier, there is no business where you’re going to be sitting back, having a pint, chatting to the customers and raking in the cash. It’s hard work, but the rewards of running a business wouldn’t mean anything if there wasn’t struggle. You’ll have to be ready to respond to a crisis, difficult customers, a huge array of legal obligations, staff problems and the ever-shifting wants and needs of your customer base. You need to be the kind of person who can put their face where it hurts to make your pub work. When it all comes together it’ll be worth it.
Pub landlord responsibilities
What you actually have to do as a landlord is considerably more than just pulling pints and chatting with your guests. As a landlord you’ll be responsible for:
- Managing food supply chains, dealing with food supply companies like Bidvest or Fresh Direct to source any meals you want to serve.
- Ensuring your legal compliance with the 2003 Licensing Act for yourself and your staff.
- Training and managing staff, arguably one of the most difficult aspects of running any business.
- Controlling stock, ensuring a minimum level of stock, managing loss, and waste, and securing your supply chain.
- General maintenance of the pub, including cleaning, equipment care, and preventative maintenance.
- Building the business – promoting your business on social media and around your community.
By no means is that list exhaustive, but it should give you some idea of the size of the job.
Your age isn’t hugely influential in getting into the landlord business, but there’s a modern trend towards young people running their own pub businesses, and fundamentally this is your choice, you don’t have to ask permission to pursue being a publican if it’s what you really care about. Just make sure you go in with your eyes open!
Have you taken the plunge on running a pub? Let us know about it in the comments, we want to hear your stories.