Why Your Bar Should Always be Sellable, Even if it's Not for Sale

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While you’re busy running and growing your bar or nightclub, you may not even consider when, how, or even if you want to sell it sometime in the future. In fact, the idea of selling may be the furthest thing from your mind, especially if business is good and you're enjoying yourself. Interestingly, though, every business owner should really always be prepared to sell their business, and here's two excellent reasons why:

  1. If your bar is always sellable, you're in control if an unexpected purchase offer comes along.
  2. If your bar is always run like it's on the market, you know your employees and every other aspect of the business is running in its best form.

Let’s consider some practical ways to make sure your business is always sellable, whether you’re thinking of selling your bar or not:

Be ready for an unexpected purchase offer

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Starting, running, and growing a bar or nightclub can be all- onsuming, even if it feels like a walk in the park because you’re having fun. Practically speaking, putting out today’s fires and hoping to prevent tomorrow’s can easily crowd out long-term strategic decision making.

But looking at the bigger picture, it's clear that thinking ahead is pretty important. It can help provide some level of financial security for your and your family's future, and – perhaps more importantly, at least for this discussion – it can have an impact on strategic business decisions you make today.

Preparing yourself and your bar for the possibility of receiving an unsolicited offer from a prospective buyer can similarly improve your strategic focus, and it can make it easier for you to respond quickly and effectively, striking while the iron's hot.

If you’ve never given any thought to things like what your bar is worth, how much you'd need to take home from a sale to achieve future goals, or any other factors that need to weigh on your decision to sell, you'll find an unexpected offer to be overwhelming and time consuming – potentially to the point of missing the opportunity completely. Or, this lack of preparation could cause you to rush into a sale because the opportunity presented itself, but realizing later that you made the wrong decision.

To avoid both of these negative outcomes, every bar and nightclub owner should start planning ahead now to systematically determine the value of the business and define exactly what they would need included in a potential purchase offer in order to say "Yes." Not only does this put you in an optimal negotiating position should an offer come along, but it also allows you to respond quickly and confidently so you don't miss it.

Run your bar so it's always attractive to buyers

Smart homeowners who are trying to sell their house know that potential buyers are driving by every day. To make sure they don't miss any opportunities, they put special care into keeping the home and yard looking its best so it's sure to catch a buyer's eye. Similarly, if you're running your bar as if it's on the market at all times, you’re likely to be more aware of both its "curbside appeal" and its ongoing financial performance as it will appear to a prospective buyer.

Even if you never actually receive a purchase offer, approaching day-to-day business in this way will have a positive impact on how your bar operates. For instance, you should be experiencing:

  • Improved cash flow.
  • Enhanced customer service.
  • A higher volume of referrals and positive reviews.
  • Exceptional brand reputation.
  • A sustainable, duplicatable business model.
  • A talented and engaged workforce.

All of these items will naturally be areas of focus if you're trying to sell your business because they form the basis of an optimal business value. But they're also going to make your bar or club successful, profitable, and enjoyable.

Now's the time to consider: If you're not sure how you would respond to an unsolicited offer to buy your bar, take the time to think about that potential and start making decisions today so that you're always prepared to sell your business.

Bruce Hakutizwi is the U.S. and international manager of BusinessesForSale.com, a global online marketplace for buying and selling small- and medium-sized businesses. With more than 60,000 business listings, it attracts 1.3 million buyers every month. Bruce regularly writes about entrepreneurship and small business management for leading online publications. Nightclub & Bar Media Group’s editorial team played no part in developing the article.