The 4 Worst Reasons to Buy a Bar

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It’s a good idea to ask yourself why you want to buy a bar before you make the jump into the industry.

There are many people who conclude that this business isn’t what they thought it would be and isn’t for them, but not before the industry chews up their dreams—and time, money, credit and sanity—and spits them out. Rather than going through the process of losing hundreds of thousands of dollars in a failed investment, stop to think about your decision and do an honest self-evaluation.

Here are the four worst reasons to buy a bar:

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1. You Like to Party

This is by far the worst reason to get into the bar industry. There’s an old saying that goes, “If you like to gamble, working in a casino is not for you.” Similarly, in the bar business, operators who are continually tempted to consume the products they sell are doomed to failure.

The industry is abundant with stories of operators who failed because of addictions that were fueled by their working environment.

Read this: The Essential Advice You Need Before Buying a Bar

To be successful in the industry, operators must have above-average levels of self-control. They must know how to separate their business and personal life. And they must always operate their business with profit at the top of their mind. Being tempted by any of the products or services a bar offers is a surefire recipe for disaster and an awful reason to buy a bar.

2. To Improve Your Dating Life

The lure of owning a bar so that a lonely operator can always meet new romantic partners is an attractive prospect to a potential bar owner. While this has long been one of the possible perks of the bar industry, it is a bad reason to invest at the ownership level.

Any time a social agenda exceeds the profit agenda of the business, problems will start to materialize. This is especially true today, where sexual harassment and assault accusations are enough to destroy the reputation of an individual and therefore their business. [Editor’s note: This should go without saying but here goes—never harass or assault anyone, sexually or otherwise. Thank you.]

Read this: Reduce Your Harassment & Liability Risk

The most successful operators are those who have no social agenda. They are there only to make money and will only make decisions that help reach that goal. People who buy a bar because they want to find dates are asking for trouble.

3. You’re Chronically Unemployable

While many entrepreneurs start businesses because they despise working for other people, this is not a good reason to buy a bar. Most of the best bar owners I have ever met are those who have risen to high-level management positions working for other companies.

This makes perfect sense when you think about it. These people have gone through the ranks, worked for a successful company, learned the ins and outs, and graduated to ownership when their skills and confidence rose to the level it needed to be to succeed as an owner.

Read this: Buying a Bar? Ask These 4 Questions First!

This also demonstrates the ability to work well with others, which is very important when stepping into an ownership position. When someone jumps around from job to job, this is usually more a problem with their attitude toward work and their inability to cooperate with others. If you’ve been fired from every job you’ve ever had, buying your own bar is probably a bad idea.

4. You Want Easy Money

The bar industry is not an easy place to make money. While there were times in the past when it was relatively simple to make money by opening a bar, in today’s ultra-competitive market this simply is not the case.

Today, the industry is a challenging landscape that has weeded out many operators who lacked the skill to adapt to new realities. Above-average skills in marketing, operations, management and staying on the cutting edge of food, liquor and service trends is essential for success now.

Operators are working longer hours, studying more in their spare time, and constantly attending conferences to try and get the edge necessary to succeed in today’s hyper competitive market. Those who buy a bar because they think it is an easy way to make money are in for a rude awakening.

About the Author

Kevin is an operations consultant with over a decade of experience working directly with bar, restaurant and nightclub owners on all points of the spectrum: from family-owned single bar operations to large companies with locations on an international scale. Kevin works with them all and understands the unique challenges each kind of company faces.

He is the author of a book entitled Night Club Marketing Systems – How to Get Customers for Your Bar. He is also a regular writer for Nightclub & Bar, providing information high-level operators seek to get the extra edge in their marketing, sales and operations.

He continues to write today, providing specialized information directly to nightclub, bar and restaurant owners from his workshops, newsletters and magazine articles. He is also active in the field, operating an inventory auditing practice with Sculpture Hospitality.

Disclaimer: The opinions, thoughts and ideas expressed in this article are that of the author’s and are not necessarily shared by Nightclub & Bar and/or affiliated publications and brands.