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How To Run A Successful Pub

Posted by rafael on November 27, 2012 in Small Business

Designing, establishing and operating a pub is a very personal experience built around people’s dream. A pub is a drinking establishment, a kind of small retailing business, offering a service to a particular market sector. Commonly, people handle a concept of a pub that brings them satisfaction and opening perspectives of happiness and profits. After, they decide to research the feasibility to realize their dreams.

However, according to specialized sources, it is estimated that about a third of new pubs go to bankrupt or are closed every year, numerous of them due to lack of capital, while others for not having identified properly a concept that would fit best the owner’s lifestyle. As experts affirm, most part fails because owners have believed their original concept was mistaken and had changed it as a result of persuasion exerted by a partner or by someone who was funding them.

According to these specialists, it is important owners to keep their original vision or will be frustrated and eventually would lose interest in achieving their goals. There are numerous people eager to tell you how to design and manage a pub, but the fact is that none of them will be around at the end of the month when you need to perform all the necessary payments. Therefore, a first experience is to rely only on you. The concept of a pub you handled from the same beginning is your own dream. Thus, never move away from that vision unless the alternative is equally acceptable.

Although, there is a good amount of people believing good luck is the main aspect to succeed in this business, we actually believe good luck is a direct result of solid business practices. Therefore, we will show you some challenges you may face when trying to open and run a successful pub and how to avoid some common mistakes people make. However, please, be advised, there is no single recipe for success in this business.

Obtaining the Necessary Experience and Knowledge

Firstly, we recommend you to visit the largest possible number of pubs, especially the most successful ones. This way you can perceive mistakes made by your potential competitors, as well as incorporate new ideas to your original concept. It would be good to become an employee of one of those businesses and carry a daily record of its weaknesses and strengths.

Furthermore, it is also important to become member of associations linked to this kind of business, participate in their meetings and activities, and talk to professionals. Moreover, it is very useful to take some courses to complete your knowledge about pub’s business and refine your skills. Contrary to what numerous people may think, this will be fairly useful before facing most critical decisions linked to invest time and money in your business.

A Feasibility Study

A feasibility study will let you know about the relationship between the existing market and your future business. It focuses on defining your competitors, as well as your potential customers, by taken into account different factors. According to specialists, it is called feasibility study since it involves researching the feasibility of a business in terms of demand and competition.

Generally speaking, a feasibility study includes assessing the specific offer and demand depending on your specific type of business operations. There are a great number of specialized firms carrying out such type of research, collecting and processing the necessary data, analyzing results and elaborating a detailed report for you with all the necessary suggestions and recommendations.

However, usually this is an expensive service. Thus, another option is to hire a consultant with enough knowledge and experience in pub’s business. As the rate of failure of new pubs is pretty high, it is essential to perform a detailed research before opening yours.

Owner’s Charisma and Ability

The owner of a successful pub should be a combination of a host and a business person. Success will mainly depend on owner’s ability to entertain customers. As some pub’s experts put it, running a pub is fairly similar to running a theater play. A pub is a small retailing business, counting with an adequate production staff and decoration, like a theater play.  In the case of a pub, the employees are the actors, the menu is the script, and their ability will determine the success or failure of a season.

Furthermore, customers will be your critics, and it is strongly recommended to listen to any of their comments carefully. Owners should move continuously among clients while they are consuming, talk to them and ask for their opinions. Most part of customers make valuable suggestion on how to improve some aspects linked to the service or products being offered. Please, do not forget that if clients are dissatisfied and they tell you about it, you still have the chance to correct the problem and keep them as customers.

However, if you do not listen to them and continue operating without making any changes, you are at risk of losing not only your most loyal customers, but their friends as well, considering they will talk to them about the bad experience they had on your pub.

The Menu

The menu is a very important document that describes your dream to your potential clients, while strongly influences other aspects such as decoration, your customers, your marketing plan, the geographical location, as well as the employees’ selection. For example, if your pub will only serve drinks, that is, you will not serve food, then you will not need kitchen equipment. However, if you plan to offer meals, then you need the right equipment for this purpose (fryer, smoke extraction system, etc.).

Commonly, decoration of pubs is informal and they should be preferably located downtown or in a popular area. Moreover, if you are serving not very complicated dishes (like sandwiches, etc.), the employees’ expertise will not be as decisive as in the case you are planning to serve sophisticated dishes. In turn, pubs usually have a rapid flow of customers and their prices will be rather low. As you can see, a single factor, such as the menu, can heavily influence the establishment of a successful pub.

Distinguishing Between Trends and Fads

The owner of a successful pub should be able to distinguish clearly between serious trends and fads. While fads tend to disappear as soon as the market is saturated or customers have tired of them, trends take years to develop and sometimes they may even become part of people’s culture. Pub is a kind of business that requires constantly looking for new ways to attract customers. Therefore, pubs are changing and evolving accordingly to trends.

Pub’s owners should be able to predict which of the latest trends will make customers to return, by considering there is a great number of competitors around. For example, a recent increasing trend, particularly in the case of older clients, is to offer healthy products (both drinks and foods). Clients are demanding alternative menus offering not only delicious, but healthy dishes (low in saturated fat and cholesterol) as well.

If you are looking for more information on this subject, check the links below:

Running a pub is a lifelong dream for many, but to make it a success you’ll certainly have to put a lot of hard work into your venture. There’ll undoubtedly be tough times when you attempt to run a successful pub but with determination and focus you can succeed. Your people and management skills will have to come to the fore when you embark upon the management or even ownership on a pub but if you bear the following in mind, there’s no reason why you should not succeed.

Make Your Pub Welcoming

Atmosphere is key when it comes to running an enterprise that people will want to return to. You’ll need your environment to be as jovial, warm and welcoming as possible. If your customers suspect that you are not fully committed to providing a magnetic and magical atmosphere they may well go elsewhere. Public houses constantly face competition from the supermarkets and suchlike, and with alcohol being much cheaper to consume at home, you’ll really need to entice customers to your premises if you’re going to convince them that visiting your establishment beats staying at home, and that the costs involved in frequenting your pub are worth it.

Invest in Entertainment

Deciding upon a theme and tone for your pub is crucial. If you’re hoping to build a classy and sophisticated environment, you’ll need to be certain that this appeals to the local clientele. If your reputation is deemed snooty by the locals then you may well drive people away. Pubs aren’t just places where people go to drink either, and it’s certainly worthwhile putting on events to attract numbers. Karaoke, live bands, and televised sport are just a few things you can use to entice people away from their homes and provide a social experience that incorporates so much more than just alcohol.



This will show potential customers that you are dedicated to entertaining them and not purely interested in profits. You need to provide an environment that will not only attract repeat visits but attain new custom too. You need to get people talking about you in a positive way, and if there’s competition locally you’ll need to show people that your pub is the best choice to make.

Interact With Your Customers

Keeping up-to-date with developments in the pub trade is another vital activity you’ll need to attend to. Listen to, and actively seek out feedback from your customers and read trade magazines in order to keep up with new trends and tastes. Actively communicating with your regulars is another way to establish regular custom and showing that you care about them can hopefully make your public house a hub of the community. If your pub is in a town or city centre you may well face extra competition so you’ll need to make your pub stand out in a positive way.

Get to Know Your Clientele

Getting to know your clientele is vital in creating the friendly, even homely, atmosphere that regulars expect. Additionally, it will also help you to establish the, hopefully small, minority who may cause trouble if over-indulgence occurs – this means that you know who to and who not to serve when multiple drinks have been consumed. Ultimately, you are the boss and you are not obliged to serve anyone if you don’t want to. If a patron does cause trouble, it’s more than likely that this will be a one-off and they will be fully apologetic upon their next visit. If the incident re-occurs, it may be time to refuse entry.

So, if you’re looking to buy a pub, keep these tips in mind and hopefully you’ll be running a successful business in no time!

Written by Michael Palmer

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