The traditional British pub can be a great investment, but selling any business can be a long and complex process. Whether you’re selling a leasehold pub or a freehold pub, you’ll have to work hard to find the right buyer who has the business interests at heart. From country pubs to city drinking dens, the majority of public house properties have the potential to be very profitable.
Whether you’re looking for a quick sale or want to increase the value of your pub business, here are some steps to follow to increase its saleability.
1. Create a loyal customer base
A pub is often the hub of a community, which means it naturally has some regular customers who prop up the bar. A significant loyal customer base can be a great business tool, and showing potential buyers that they will always have the local clientele (and a reliable revenue) can make the pub very attractive indeed. Most pubs will have a few regulars, but work hard to get more and ask the regulars to bring in their family and friends.
2. Clear accounts
Buyers like to see a breakdown of a pub’s turnover to see how it is run and if there are any profitable opportunities. In addition to official accounts it’s a good idea to split the turnover into food sales, wet sales and accommodation if appropriate. Don’t forget that buyers may want to change the direction of the pub and this could give them a better idea of what is and isn’t successful.
No two pubs are the same, and there are many reasons why customers choose yours. Identify the pub’s USPs and shout about them! Whether it’s the best Sunday roast in town, fantastic weekly entertainment or an excellent back bar stocked with premium spirits, tell buyers why people travel far and wide to visit your welcoming public house.
4. Knowledgeable and skilled hospitality staff
If you have a strong team that runs the business well and takes care of the regulars, then this is another key asset to the sale. Some buyers may not want to run the business themselves, they might plan on hiring a manager. Having good staff already in place can increase the saleability of any business, but especially a pub.
5. Effective marketing
It’s important to pinpoint the prospective buyers your pub may attract, and start marketing the business to them. Young pub landlords, first-time business buyers, and retired pub owners are all different types of buyers who are buying for different reasons. Once you’ve worked out what type of person will be willing to invest in your pub, you can create an effective marketing plan. Advertise using a range of communication channels, with the help of an experienced business broker.
6. Always polished
Take time to take care of the property and make sure the pub always looks its best. It goes without saying that potential buyers are going to turn up unannounced to check out the pub at any time of day, to sit back and get a feel for the atmosphere as a customer. Always be polished and ready.
7. Follow house rules
Many pubs come with owner accommodation, and it’s important you pay as much attention to selling this as you do to the business itself. Apply the same rules as when selling a house: make sure there is minimum clutter, as much natural light as possible and make it a blank canvas. Some fresh paint and small appliance upgrades can go a long way, as unattractive accommodation can put some buyers off.