How to sell your pub

Published : 7 March 2016

They say it's every man's dream to own his own pub so, if you have one to sell, it should be easy, right?

Well, with the right marketing in place, it should be relatively straightforward but remember, as with owning, selling or buying any business, it's not all beer and skittles!

Of course, the major factor here is whether the pub you are selling is leasehold or freehold - that will clearly make a difference to the price, and the legals.

Whereas, with a freehold, you are selling the business and premises as one package, a leasehold sale involves three parties - the existing lessee, the prospective lessee and the landlord.

A leasehold purchase would generally include the goodwill of the business, fixtures and fittings, and the lease and licences. Stock will generally be extra.

A freehold sale on the other hand will include the building - often with accommodation for the owner or manager, fixtures and fittings, licences, goodwill and any online marketing tools, such as a website.

The first step is to make your pub as attractive as possible to prospective buyers - financially and physically.

It's not a decision you make overnight, as it could take weeks or months to get everything in order to demonstrate that the pub is financially viable.

A savvy buyer will not only want to see the bottom line, but will investigate all angles of the business - for example, is the pub only busy at weekends and quiet all week? How much competition is there nearby? Is it family-friendly? Where is it located? Does it have good street frontage?

Food is another key factor, as this is often where the most profit lies. Perhaps the sale includes a thriving restaurant, or maybe the pub has a commercial kitchen but is currently not doing food. Both are attractive options to a buyer.

What are your pub's standout features? Perhaps it's an historic pub, full of charm and in a busy tourist location. That's definitely a good selling point.

But if it is an old pub, it needs to be in a good state of repair or, if it needs work, it should be priced accordingly.

Does the pub has guest accommodation? A beer garden? Entertainment? What's the parking like? These are all questions you should think about as the seller, because your prospective buyer will definitely be asking!

A smart buyer will also ask a lot of questions about staffing, as that's where a lot of the profit can walk out the door. If you have already set the pub up to run with working owners plus a couple of casuals, it makes an attractive proposition for a like-minded buyer.

And know your market, so that you can really 'sell' your business. For example, is the location experiencing growth? Is the government, or local council, spending money to boost the area in terms of infrastructure, tourism, and attracting new business? Are there lots of new homes in the area?

These are all very strong selling points, as they will illustrate growth potential to a prospective buyer.

If the buyer is new to the industry, they will probably expect you to offer some training during the transition. And they will have plenty of questions about the laws and licences.

Selling any business can be a long and sometimes complicated process, which is why some people hand the whole thing over to brokers. That's great in theory, but remember a broker will walk away with a big chunk of YOUR profit!

It's generally recommended to talk to a company such as Coast to Coast Media, an independent, Australian family-owned business that specialises in selling businesses and homes privately, WITHOUT CHARGING COMMISSION.

That's right, all the tools needed to successfully market your business - including graphic designers and professional copywriters - without paying commission.

There's also access to a buyer match service, which could help you to sell your business quickly, at the price you want.