6 Important Issues to Consider in a Pub’s Business & Marketing Plan

The ease and effectiveness of running a pub is greatly influenced by the decisions and direction set out in the initial business plan.

Here are 6 of the most important issues to bear in mind when developing or refining a pub’s business and marketing plan:

1) Pricing

Make sure that your prices are comparable to your competitors in the surrounding area. Do not overprice this may limit your volume as the price sensitive customers will not come to your place. At the same time, do not make your prices too low as it will definitely hurt your gross profit margins and may not result in the necessary increase in volume.

2) Regulars

It’s important to identify your regular customers and ensure that they adopt your pub as their chosen watering hole so that you have a consistent flow of customers. These regulars will also help to jump-start the crowd during the earlier hours when you’re trying to get the momentum going.

3) Weekday Evenings

To be a successful pub, you have to make sure that you’re not only packed on weekends and the holiday season. You need to be doing a five to six day a week business, instead of only on Fridays and Saturdays. This means that there must be regular customers on the slower weekday evenings as well as the random walk-ins.

4) Pub Food

A good way to diversify your revenue stream and to widen your pub’s appeal is to provide a tasty and affordably priced food menu. By serving good food, you can generate sales from people who do not drink alcohol and also attract customers that may not otherwise visit your pub. In addition, some of the dinner crowd will inevitably stay on in the pub for a few more drinks. This is extremely useful in getting the ball rolling during the earlier hours of the evening, especially on the slower weekdays.

5) Weekends

Most of the sales in a pub are generated on weekends. The way that you manage your pub on Friday and Saturday nights can make all the difference between a profitable and a loss-making business. As such, make sure that you have enough bartenders and floor staff to serve customers at peak hours as this is usually when there are a lot of lost sales due to overcrowding and slow service.

6) Sunday Sales

Sundays can also be a good day depending on your customer base, especially if you serve good food. By attracting a Sunday lunch or afternoon drinking crowd, you can get additional sales from customers who are different to the Saturday late night spenders. This is useful in diversifying your revenue stream and ensuring that you’re not overly dependent on sales from any single source.

Please feel free to contribute any other points and ideas in the comments below. Thank you.

Ways to Manage a Pub and Acquire the Skills to Run the Business

a-beer-in-a-pubMost profitable pubs are owner operated to a certain degree, as it is a cash-based retail business that has to be tightly managed in order to do well.

Managed by Owners

The majority of pubs are fully managed by their stakeholders who may be sole proprietors, part of a partnership or a family run business. Even in cases where the shareholders are not in complete control, pubs will tend to be semi-managed by their owners who keep a close eye on the cash and inventory management.

So, if you’re thinking about starting a pub where you hire a team of employees to run it for you in its entirety, you should think again as it may end up being a very costly affair. In the same way, if you’ve already opened a pub and are loosing money every month, it may be because you’re not sufficiently involved in running the business.

Now, in order to be on top of the operations, as the owner, you need to know the ins and outs of the business so that you can control the costs, generate sales and manage a motivated team to assist you in making a consistent profit.

Getting to Know the Business

If you don’t have a clue about running a pub, you should go and work in one before even investing in the business. If you’ve already started up, you’ll need to learn it as quickly as possible.

There are lots of ways to tap on the wisdom of people who are knowledgeable about the industry. If possible, you can get great advice from other pub owners, bar managers and even people who have invested in pubs before. At the same time, find an accountant or auditor who has worked with similar bar or pub businesses. In the same way, you could also tap on other professional service providers such as lawyers and company secretaries by selecting ones that have some experience in the retail F&B industry.

Learn from an Experienced Team

Another effective way of acquiring the necessary skills to manage a pub properly is to hire a very experienced team and learning from them individually. This allows you to benefit from their years of training and real-life experience from their past jobs. Do note that you need to employ team members who are good at what they do, or else you may end up learning the wrong things.

If you’re thinking about investing in a pub, then the smartest way will be to partner up with a co-investor who has the industry know-how either from a past investment or better still, from having worked or managed a successful bar or pub before.

Pubs Not Managed by Owners

So, are there pubs that are not directly managed by their owners but are still profitable? Yes, of course there are, but it is a far smaller percentage of all the pubs that consistently make money.

In the case of small private businesses, if the owners are not monitoring the operations, there is normally a competent and honest manager who is running the pub as if it were his or her own. The larger corporate owned pubs can also be profitable without any direct shareholder involvement as there are tight operational procedures that are run by professional managers.


However, most existing and aspiring pub owners are not part of a corporate chain and do not have a manager that is 100% able to make money for them without any supervision.

As a result, to own and manage a pub, you really need to know the business inside out.

A Pub’s Bar, Floor and Management Team

red-barPubs are a people business. To succeed, you need to be good at working with, managing, motivating and entertaining people.

Depending on the size of a pub and how the team is set up, there can be varying numbers of team members that hold positions that are referred to in different ways. For example, some companies call their customer service personnel ‘Waiters’ and ‘Waitresses’ while others refer to them as ‘Floor Staff’. Also, Junior Bartenders or Bar Assistants are sometimes called ‘Bar Backs’ in some places while other pubs call them ‘Bar Servers’.

Therefore, try not to get overly caught up in the labels for each designation. Instead, focus on the duties and responsibilities for each person in the team so that everything that needs to be covered is assigned to someone who is clearly accountable for that task.

Here is an outline of the key positions for a pub business’ management and operations team:

  • General Manager (GM): This is the person who is responsible for the entire business, from sales and customer service, to accounting and human resources. It may be one of the owners or an employee who is not a shareholder.
  • Finance & Payroll Manager: This team member works closely with the GM to prepare the management accounts, monitor all sales receipts, manage the cash, make all required expenditure payments and is in charge of payroll.
  • Store Manager: This role is often coupled with the Purchasing Manager’s position where one person is accountable for ordering, taking delivery and managing all the stock of liquor, wine, beer and related drinks items that are used in the bar.
  • Bar Manager: This member of staff is in charge of the inventory, personnel, equipment and overall operations of the bar. He or she works closely with the Store Manager to replenish stocks that are running out.
  • Bar Staff: The bartenders and other staff in the bar work with and report to the Bar Manager in order to generate sales, serve customers and fulfill the orders taken by the floor service team.
  • Floor Manager: Also called a Floor Captain, this person is in charge of all the sales and customer service for patrons that are not seated at the bar. He or she works with the floor staff to take orders, serve drinks and clear empty glasses.
  • Floor Staff: This team consists of sales and customer service staff who are responsible for generating sales, taking orders, clearing tables, serving drinks and ensuring that customers have everything they need.
  • Security Staff: Medium to large sized pubs may use security staff or bouncers to assist in crowd management when it’s busy and to control customers who are causing trouble. They may be full-time staff or part timers who only work when needed.

In many of the smaller pubs, some of the staff may play a number of these roles, as it is not feasible to have such a large team. For example, the General Manager may double up as the Purchasing and Store Manager. Or, some of the Customer Service staff may work on the Floor or behind the Bar as required.

Stock & Inventory Management in a Pub

managementThe main stock inventory in a pub consists of alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks. These items need to be purchased, stored and managed efficiently to generate profits by ensuring that there is no pilferage, overstocking and wastage.

The goal of any effective Bar Inventory Management system is to control the purchasing, storage and usage costs while ensuring that the bar is stocked with all the necessary drinks for sale.

Stock Purchasing

Making a profit normally starts with purchasing stocks at good prices from suppliers. This is normally achieved by working with companies who offer the best prices and by buying in bulk or committing to volume purchases.

Inventory Management

As with many other businesses, you’ll be able to secure a lower cost price for products if you can buy in higher quantities. This means that you have to trade off between the lower prices and the larger amount of money you need to commit to each product, as well as the higher storage costs.

Stock Storage

Stocks that are waiting to be delivered to the bar are usually kept in the Store. If you try to lower your purchasing unit costs by buying more quantity, you need to have a larger storeroom to hold all the stock. This means that you’ll have less space in your pub to store other things and incur additional expenses to keep track of the stock and make sure that there is no theft or spoilage.

Bar Stock

Once drinks have been delivered to the bar, the responsibility for the stock is transferred from the Storekeeper or Store Manager to the Bar Manager and Bartenders. Depending on the size and operational procedures of the pub, there may be daily or weekly stock takes at the bar. This is used to compare against sales to account for all stocks that are used.

Theft & Pilferage

All bars need to have strict rules on how drinks are prepared and served, as there can be a lot of lost sales and cash from mismanaged stock items. One of the classic ways that pub owners end up loosing money even though they have a thriving business is from drinks pilferage from the bar.

This can happen in a number of ways ranging from free drinks being given away to friends of bartenders, to money received for drinks served that is not recorded as a sale. In between, there is a variety of other issues from undercharging and discounts being given, to over pouring of drinks such as double shots being given for single shot charges.

Questions & Answers about Managing or Running a Pub

qna There are countless Pub Management topics that we would like to cover, but as a new site, we are not able to do it all at once.

If you have any specific questions that you would like us to answer or to write an article on, please post it in the Comments section below and we’ll try to share our thoughts on the subject.

Alternatively, if you do not want to post your question publicly, you can contact our team by submitting a message via the Contact page on this site.

If you have feedback about any of the questions asked by other readers, feel free to post a reply in the Comments below as well.