A career behind the bar

Many people have considered running a pub – but there is more to being a publican than pulling pints and being a good host.

To run a pub you also have to have a business head, manage staff, you may have to prepare food and menus, you have to police alcohol sales, manage health and safety, manage stocks, run a cellar and more.

If you are managing a pub on behalf of a brewery chain you might have to meet sales targets and constantly come up with ideas to drive the business.

If you run a free house – one not owned by a chain – you would still have to find innovative ways to attract new business but your targets would be your own.

Some pubs or bars have entertainment areas and rental accommodation.

You would be responsible for ordering stock and overseeing deliveries during the day even if you were working late the night before.

As a licensee, you would be likely to work long hours. In 2005, the Licensing Act 2003 introduced laws which allow flexible opening hours for premises – up to 24 hour opening, seven days a week (subject to local objection). This may impact on the hours and shifts you and your staff work.

You could employ a bar or cellar manager to carry out some of these duties, or you may do everything yourself.

Pubs can be very noisy and busy at key times of the day, and your work could involve carrying crates and barrels. You will be on your feet a lot so a decent level of fitness is imperative.

Most pub premises have accommodation above and if you manage a chain-owned business you may be allowed to live on site, possibly rent free. If you own a free house you would usually live on the premises.

Trainee or assistant managers can earn around £15,000 to £20,000 a year. With experience, this can rise to between £25,000 and £35,000. Licensees in successful establishments can earn up to £50,000.

Income will vary depending on location, turnover and profits. Some breweries offer bonus schemes and living expenses.

Publicans or licensees are often employed to run a pub on behalf of a pub chain or brewery. Leaseholders, tenants and free traders are business people who put their own money into the pub and business.

You will find it useful to have previous experience of bar work. To get on to a scheme you will usually need experience and a mature, conscientious and responsible attitude to work, a qualification such as a foundation degree, BTEC HNC/HND, or degree (business, marketing, and hospitality management with licensed retail may be particularly helpful) – check with colleges or universities for details of course entry requirements.

To become a tenant or leaseholder, you would need to show the brewery or pub chain throughout their recruitment and selection process that you have the experience and managerial ability to run a pub successfully.