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How to Buy a Bar

Find out what you need to know to buy the right bar!

For a lot of sociable people, buying and running a bar is the ultimate dream. A passion for people and the business is a great start but there are a few other things that you should know if you’re thinking of buying a bar.

Having experience working in a bar, particularly managing one is extremely useful if you are hoping to become a bar owner. This is a competitive industry and so having an idea of how to run a tight ship with good systems can be imperative to keeping your doors open.

The festive South African culture is one in which you can make a real success of your bar if you do it right. If you have your finger on the pulse of what will attract customers to come back to your bar time and time again then buying a bar could be the ideal next step for you.

Find the right business

Finding the perfect business to buy is the most important first step. You will need to do a lot of research to find out what areas are good to invest in and what businesses there are for sale.

Make sure that you know what assets will be included in the sale of the business. You should also

have a very detailed knowledge of what kind of turnover the business has had over the past five years.

Although you will want to know that the bar has been had a relatively good number of customers, you should be more concerned about what the trend over the years has been. An upward trend will indicate that you will be able to grow the business.

You will also need to align the bar you’re buying with the type of bar you have been dreaming of opening. For example, if you buy an established sports bar, your customers will be expecting that despite new ownership it will remain a sports bar.

If you buy a sports bar and want to change it to a wine bar you will have to put a lot of time and money into marketing and rebranding your business. This can be an expensive task at the start of your business.

You should also be clear on what the terms of the lease are when you are buying a bar.

The longevity of the bar

Before you decide to put an offer in on a bar, you should have a good idea of what the longevity of the establishment is. Research who the demographic is and what it is that brings them to the bar. Is this likely to change? 

Consider who lives in the neighbourhood and whether or not this is transforming. Research whether there is any planned development in the area. There are a lot of areas in South African cities that are changing rapidly and so you will need to know if this will affect you.

What you can expect

Long hours and working weekends and holidays are going to be a given. Even if you have a good team of employees, you will need to be there a lot of the time to keep an eye on things. 

Stock counts and customer relations can easily go off course if you are not around to keep things on track. 

Customers like to see the owner and be made to feel welcome- particularly regulars. Before you go into this business, you should also know that there will be a lot of number crunching and paperwork that will come with it. It certainly won’t all be fun and parties!

If this all sounds like you, then you should start researching bars for sale so that you can move closer to finally owning your own bar!

Anthea Taylor

About the author

Anthea Taylor is Content Producer at Dynamis and writes for all titles in the Dynamis stable including, and as well as other industry publications.