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10 Things You Should Know Before Owning a Bar

Have you always dreamed of owning a bar?

Of course, fantasizing about owning a bar and owning a bar in actuality are two different things. In your dreams, it’s only natural to focus on all of the possible perks with such ownership. However, it’s also important to focus on the more realistic aspects of bar ownership as well.

If you’re wondering about the realities of owning a bar, you’ve come to the right place. We’re sharing ten things all prospective owners must know before diving headfirst into bar ownership.

1. High Start-Up Costs

First and foremost, opening up a bar isn’t exactly going to be wallet-friendly at first.

Sure, it may very well be profitable down the road. However, the start-up process will likely prove to be incredibly expensive.

Not only do you have to find a venue to host your bar, but you also have to account for renovations, licensing, design, equipment, legal fees and a number of contractors. In this sense, you may need to take out a line of credit or a business loan to help tackle such costs.

2. Unforeseen Expenses

In addition to all of your routine expenses, you’re likely going to experience unforeseen or unaccounted for expenses during your length of ownership.

This could be anything from a legal battle to equipment breaking down and requiring replacement. In addition to budgeting for your routine expenses, it’s crucial to have an emergency cash fund reserved for such circumstances.

3. Long Hours

Like most careers in the service industry, you’re going to want to prepare yourself for long and sometimes gruesome hours.

Remember, the majority of bars are going to remain open until the wee hours of the morning. If your bar shuts down early, you’re not putting yourself in a very favorable position against your competition.

This means that you’re likely going to at least start by working long and sometimes complicated hours.

4. Unpredicted Scheduling

Similarly, there are going to be many times in which you need to step in to replace your employees.

On a routine basis, you’re going to experience employees calling in sick or sometimes even not showing up at all. In this event, you must be prepared to drop what you’re doing and fill their spot immediately.

5. You’re the Boss

Good news: You’re the boss!

Bad news: You’re the boss!

Of course, being the boss comes with the good as well as the bad. Everyone knows your name, there’s no one to answer to and you have the power of making all of the decisions.

But, this also means that you’re going to responsible for wearing a number of hats. This could include resolving employee disputes, standing in for sick employees and dealing with displeased customers.

6. Don’t Forget About the Marketing

Let’s be honest, it’s easy to generate hype for your bar before you open your doors. After all, you want to create a buzz and get your customers excited about what’s to come.

Unfortunately, some businesses tend to lose such motivation shortly after opening. With this, marketing efforts slowly diminish and eventually fall to the back burner on the to-do list

Remember, thirty percent of businesses fail during the first two years of operation. This is why continuing your marketing efforts or even hiring a marketing department is so crucial.

7. Working on Holidays

Are you prepared to remain open on holidays?

While most stores and services close their doors on holidays, the public is going to count on you to remain open. In fact, holidays are likely going to be some of your busiest and most stressful days.

These are also days that can be difficult to find the staff to work in the first place. On top of this, staff must often be paid a higher wage to make up for working such a holiday.

8. Other Aspects of Ownership

When you dream of bar ownership, you typically dream of crafting up unique cocktails, pouring pints and chatting with your regulars.

But, what about the other aspects of bar ownership that happen behind the scenes? For example, customers may need to have a food menu and the bar needs to be cleaned to a certain standard on a routine basis.

In many areas, bars must legally have food available to serve their customers. This helps to prevent customers from consuming too much alcohol and running into problems.

Similarly, who will be responsible for cleaning up the bar after-hours? Many bars will hire a restaurant cleaning service to handle such tasks. While this helps to keep your bar in healthy form, it’s another cost to account for.

9. High Turnover Rate

Before you delve into any industry, it’s crucial to consider your employee turnover rate. Generally speaking, the average turnover rate for all industries is approximately 19 percent.

However, industries that are typically low paying are more likely to have a greater turnover rate. Unfortunately, bars fall do tend to fall into this low-paying category.

10. Countless Competition

When it comes to owning a bar, you’re going to learn pretty quickly just how much competition is out there.

If you’re operating as a sport’s bar, you need to have a detailed plan for what is going to set you apart from other sport’s bars in the area. After all, understanding your competition is the only way to learn how to position yourself above them.

Make Your Dreams of Owning a Bar a Reality

There’s no denying that owning a bar has countless perks.

After all, what could be better than designing your own dream bar and having everyone about town know your name? You might dream of times celebrating with friends at your bar and one day turning this venture into a family business.

While there are obvious perks to owning a bar, it’s also important to set your sights on the reality of the situation. In understanding the not-so-exciting realities of bar ownership, you’re going to be better prepared for operating a bar that works for your lifestyle.

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