So you want to buy a bar?

So you want to buy a bar… Maybe you want to own a place where everyone knows your name, or you are looking for a fun business venture. Owning a bar isn’t always cause for celebration; there’s definitely a serious side.

Being a bar owner can mean crazy hours, giving up your weekends and dealing with the occasional unruly customer. Competition is tough in this industry; but owning a bar can also be a successful enterprise if you are prepared, and ready to put in the work.

Here are some things to consider before purchasing a bar:

Do you have a hospitality based mentality?

Even if you don’t plan to tend bar yourself, you need to be a people person to be successful in the bar industry. After all this business is all about hospitality.

In the bar business we don’t sell drinks, we sell an experience.  You need to be ready to create that experience, and surround yourself with staff and managers who have the same mentality.

What kind of bar is right for you?

There are many different types of bars, from the local neighborhood bar, wine bars, nightclubs, microbrews or traditional pub or sports bar.

The type of bar you choose will directly relate to your planning and budget.  You need to understand how the type and theme of your bar will impact your design, marketing and strategies.  

Understand your target market?

The industry has a high failure rate, so it’s important to identify your target marget early. Does the bar you are considering have a concept (or are you creating one), what are the demographics of your location, and what surrounding areas are you drawing from… these are just some of the questions you need to ask yourself before diving in.  

What’s in a name?

The name of your bar should portray concept. If you need to rename the bar you buy make sure you put some real thought into it.  Ask yourself some questions…

• How does the name fit with your concept?
• What type of customer does it appeal to?
• What expectations does the name imply to customers?
• Is this name easy for customers to remember and then find online?

Do you have enough capital to keep the business going?

Most bars fail due to being underfunded. I strongly recommend having enough money on hand to operate for a year including at least 6 months of rent and operating expenditures.  Insure that you have a good working relationship with your bank, and if you are self-financing have a solid financial plan in place far in advance of purchase.

Marketing the bar!

It’s important to get buzz going about your bar.  Marketing can be a challenging beast.  Insure you have a strong social media presence (hire someone with experience), get involved with the community (be visible to your demographic), and make sure you have allotted a decent marketing budget!

 Understand bar trends

Stay up to date on the latest industry trends.  What’s trending in your direct area? What’s going on nationally, or internationally?  How can you leverage these trends to grow your business?  Never stop learning!

This is not a business to get into if you are just looking to have a place to hang out. It can be stressful, and challenging; but it can also be incredibly rewarding and fun. 

For more information on buying a new bar, or driving success in your current business, we offer a free initial consultation. 

Ron M. Brown – Owner/Consultant