A lot of people think buying a bar would be a fun, easy business to get into. Your job would basically be to provide a place for people to have fun, right?
Maybe, but bars are one of the riskiest businesses to buy into. The bar business is highly competitive and it tends to rely on contemporary trends within the area. Many owners find the most difficult part in buying a bar is to sustain consistent growth beyond the "buzz" factor.
Also, the laws that ban smoking in public places have changed the game for many bars, hurting profits, but at the end of the day there is no greater markup than that of liquor so there is potential to make money in this business.
Here are a few more things to take in consideration when exploring the possibility of buying a bar from a business broker or direct from a bar business owner:
Food Or No Food?
As I said, competition in this industry is high. You are not only competing with other small businesses but also the large chains that offer both food and liquor. True bars, establishments that don’t offer food, just liquor, are becoming less profitable. Bars in good, dense, urban locations are still strong but suburban bars are struggling. The absence of a kitchen increases the risk of losing hungry customers to other venues. So, while liquor is always more profitable than food and not having the expenses of a kitchen can be good for the bottom line, not having food can also hurt, so consider this option closely.
Regardless of whether or not you offer food, without a liquor license you lose your greatest source of revenue, if not all of it. Not having a liquor license can completely stop your access to this industry so you need to make sure that the existing owner’s license can be transferred to you. Liquor licenses in certain areas where there are high concentrations of establishments within major cities have become extremely difficult to obtain, thus driving the value of those licenses very high. In some states, such as New Jersey, they only offer a specific amount of licenses. Once those are gone, they do not issue more.
Owner Involvement, Staff, Inventory Control And Your Customers
If you plan to be involved in the day to day business, be prepared for some potential headaches. Most bars are open until the early morning hours and at least 6 days a week. With so many operating hours, you have to be adequately staffed. Not only do you have to be staffed for all those hours but you also have to make sure your staff is friendly, hardworking and most importantly honest.
This can be a difficult business to control inventory as pouring an extra drink here and there can easily go unnoticed. Given that most bars do a lot of cash business, it is also easy for dishonest employees to pocket your cash. The bar and restaurant industry is also known for having high turnover, so be prepared for staffing challenges.
Let's not forget to talk about customers. While your customers are the life of your business, they can also be your biggest headache. When buying a bar, you will encounter customers that come in, have a few too many drinks and become unruly. You also have to worry about how these unruly customers will leave your establishment. With new drunk driving laws being introduced every day, customers like these could up being a big problem. Not everyone will be a problem, but it’s important to ask the current owner what procedures are in place should one of these customers come in.
In my opinion a high degree of owner involvement on a day-to-day basis will make a bar business most successful as it will give you the ability to contain costs and prevent ‘shrinkage. As the Owner, you must have excellent people skills. This is not a business for introverts.
Successful bars and nightclubs can usually generate up to $5,000 per well on a good night. As you are reviewing financials, keep in mind that the cost of goods should be below 28% of sales in a tavern/bar with little or no food. Payroll should be less than 20%. Look closely at the rent, it should be about 6% to 8% of gross sales. Serving alcohol should be an extremely profitable endeavor, with average pour costs running as low as 16 percent for liquor, 21 percent for draft beer, 25 percent for bottled beer, and 28 percent for wine but despite these great numbers you have to make sure you have the right management and staff in place to run the operation efficiently.
About The Author: Peter Siegel, MBA is the Founder (of BizBen.com) & the Director Of the BizBen California Network (founded in 1994!) consisting of business buyers, owner/sellers, business brokers, agents, intermediaries, and advisors (there are over 90,000 users, and 8,000+ listings posted on BizBen.com). To join (FREE) the BizBen California Network, phone Peter Siegel direct at 866-270-6278 - get signed up for business for sale listings (Email Alerts) before they hit the market, view requests from serious business buyers - wanted notices, notices about upcoming FREE online webinars on the topic of buying and selling California small and mid-sized businesses and much more! Call 866-270-6278 to get info about bars, taverns, and nightclubs for sale in your area.
|Helpful Resources To Assist In Selling And Buying California Businesses|
|Joe Ranieri, Business Broker, Orange County Area
Having owned retail/restaurant businesses for over 20 years, my interest turned to listing and selling businesses rather than owning them. I specialize tend to specialize in Orange County high volume restaurants, fast food independents and chains, bars and liquor stores. Call 714-292-5448.
|Jack Oh, Business Broker - LA, Orange Counties
Business broker and real estate services in the Los Angeles and Orange County areas. 10 years experience with great negotiating skills. To sell a business or buy a business in the LA or Orange County Areas phone Jack and his team at 562-787-4989.
|Janet Carrera - Escrow & Bulk Sale Services - SF Bay Area
Redwood Escrow Services, Inc. is a full service, licensed independent escrow company. We are EAFC Fidelity bonded, fully insured & licensed with the Department of Corporations. Committed to offering our clients the most comprehensive variety of escrow services available. Phone Janet at 510-247-0741.
|Diane Boudreau-Tschetter: Escrow And Bulk Sale Services
California Business Escrow, Inc. is a full service independent escrow company serving all of California and has expertise in a wide range of escrows. Our team prides itself on providing an exceptional escrow experience. For more info phone Diane Boudreau-Tschetter at 888-383-3331 or 209-838-1100.
|Matt Sadati, Business Broker, SF Bay Area, Northern CA
I have Engineering and Law, JD degree, with over 30 years of experience in all phases of entrepreneurship. During the past 15 years my concentration has been in business of mergers and consulting. I have owned and operated over 33 businesses each having one to 30 branches.
|Tommy Tran, Restaurant Broker Specialist - SF Bay Area
Specializing in sales, acquisition, leasing of restaurants, commercial buildings, office & retail spaces and other small businesses in the East Bay, San Francisco and the Peninsula area.
|Lee Petsas, Business Broker - Orange, San Diego Counties, Inland Empire
UBI Business Brokers has been successfully selling businesses in Southern California since 1965. Our Agents have over 100 years of experience in selling small to medium size businesses throughout Southern California. We service Orange County, Inland Empire, San Diego. Phone Lee at 714-363-0440.
|Peter Siegel, MBA - SBA Loans, Non SBA Financing Assistance
For over 25 years I have provided niche business purchase financial advisory and loan placement services with SBA and Non-SBA Loans, Retirement Plan Conversions, Private Investors, etc. Financing amounts available: $20K to $7MM. Call today to get pre-qualified or receive financing: 866-270-6278.
|Related Articles, Events, Blog Posts, Discussions, Videos, Interviews|
|Don't Buy A Restaurant Without Checking The Competition - Key Buying Tips
Looking to buy a restaurant business? Check out these tips first to avoid getting blindsided when you buy any type of small or mid-sized California restaurant. Peter Siegel, MBA (BizBen's ProBuy & ProSell Programs & Restaurant Purchase Financing Expert) at 866-270-6278 covers this topic for buyers.
|Buying A Restaurant Can Be Challenging: 3 Key Tips For Restaurant Buyers
People always need to eat; there should be plenty of business. Some buyers think there is prestige to owning a popular eating establishment. But it isn't an easy purchase. Peter Siegel, MBA (Business Purchase Financing Expert, ProBuy & ProSell Program at 866-270-6278) reviews this topic.
|Buying A Bar - 4 Tips Worth Reading About Before You Buy Your Bar Or Lounge
Four factors to consider when buying a bar. Peter Siegel, MBA (BizBen ProBuy, ProSell Programs) with BizBen discusses: The advantages and disadvantages of a bar that serves food as well as liquor. Staffing, inventory control and owner involvement as they relate to a good business are summarized.
|What Is The Typical Business Broker Fee For Sellers And Buyers? Who Pays It?
Was just asked the question from a business owner what the "typical commission" amount is for a broker or agent and if upfront fees are common? Thought this might be a great Discussion topic on BizBen for both business owner/sellers and potentially for business buyers (buyer representation).
|Financing Advice: Showing Add Backs To Get Business Acquisition Financing
When seeking business acquisition financing, it helps to review a seller's addbacks as a source of funding to service the debt service. But explain them correctly. Peter Siegel, MBA business acquisition financing expert and advisor at 866-270-6278 covers this topic on financing a business purchase.
|Buyer Beware: Does A Company's Culture Effect The Sale Of A Small Business?
When purchasing a small to mid-szied CA business, there are a many items to evaluate. One area that is often overlooked is the business's office culture. Peter Siegel, MBA with BizBen discusses with business buyers the importance of understanding how the business "feels" on a day-to-day basis.
|Before Buying A California Business, 10 Questions You Should Ask Yourself
Before buying a business, all serious business buyers should ask themselves some key questions about possible buying a small California business, franchise, or opportunity - from Peter Siegel, MBA (Business Purchase Financing Expert, ProBuy & ProSell Program Advisor with BizBen) at 866-270-6278.
|Selling Your Business To One Of Your Employees - A Good Idea? Pros And Con
After investing years of time and talent into a company, many small business owners want to feel like they are leaving their business in good hands and for that reason, some sellers opt to sell their business to an employee. Peter Siegel, MBA talks about the pros and cons to taking this route.
|See All News, Tips And Events|