Bank Business Accounts – it might seem obvious, but make sure your business bank account, change giving service, credit/debit card merchant account, reserve account are all active and any business account credit/debit cards are active.
Top Tip – choose a business bank account which has a counter service agreement with your local Post Office as you will have, in effect, six full days for banking/change orders etc as opposed to some banks which shut early on a Saturday.
Principal Trading accounts for suppliers – if appropriate (depending on whether you are renting or buying your pub) make sure you have opened and negotiated terms for all your principal suppliers – the sub task list includes national/regional/local brewers, cellar kit & gases, wines & spirits, utilities, telephone etc. Think of those supplies which, if not connected or supplied, will mean you cannot continue to trade and these will be your principal suppliers. If you fail to make these arrangements you may not be able to open for trade.
Top Tip – if you are unsure as to any terms or conditions contained in supplier contracts etc then refer them to your solicitor for explanation, don’t get caught out by the small print or by any “hidden charges”. Your stock taker and accountant will also be a great source of information if you are unsure about supply agreements you need to make.
Meter Readings etc – even though the outgoing tenant/owner will undoubtedly take their own meter readings for gas, electricity and water you should also take your own meter readings and agree them with the outgoing tenant/owner. This will avoid any confusion over who owes what for energy/water used by either party. If the pub uses propane or heating oil then the amount remaining in storage should also be calculated and recorded, sometimes your stock taker will be able to do this for you.
Business Rates and Council Tax – make sure you inform the local council a change of ownership has occurred so you only pay your fair share of these charges. Sometimes a calculation is made in the contract of sale for the pub to apportion the cost of any part month (or advance payments accrued), so it’s worth checking with your solicitor what your liability for these charges is.
Brewery Delivery time and other Delivery Days – make sure you know the day(s) when your principal drinks and food deliveries are due.
Local Suppliers & Other Trading Accounts – the list provided in the accompanying checklist is not exhaustive, but as with your principal suppliers make sure you have arrangements in place with all the other suppliers you want to trade with. Forgetting the butcher, the baker or the candlestick maker (well probably not the latter) whilst not disastrous may cause you inconvenience and some reputational loss just when you don’t need it i.e. during your first hours/days of trading. (After all you don’t want to get a reputation for not being able to organise the proverbial “piss up in a brewery”!)
Delivery Days for all local suppliers and order days – as with your principal suppliers make sure all your other supplier order and delivery days are organised prior to changeover day and know if any of them are making deliveries on the day.
Deliveries on the Day – If your handover day coincides with a delivery day make sure the deliveries are included in the stock or preferably arrange for an alternative delivery time after the existing stock has been taken.
Top Tip – some vendors or outgoing tenants will reduce the level of stock as handover day approaches and will suffer the admonition of customers if they are out of stock (after all it’s no skin of their nose) so make sure you have a contingency plan to bring in more stock quickly if required. Conversely some vendors will take advantage of price promotions before the end of their tenure at the pub to maximise the value of their stock (which you will buy at list price, not the discounted price). Make sure you’re aware of any significant over-stocking and have a plan to move the stock on as soon as possible. For ideas on how to move “dead” stock see the Stock Management article.
Snagging list and all queries – during your negotiations to purchase or rent a pub you will undoubtedly come across queries or physical “snags” to the pub. It is your responsibility they have been resolved prior to completing the purchase of the pub or have a legally binding agreement with the vendor/outgoing tenant/brewery/pubco to resolve these matters after completion. If they involve any of your professional advisors (solicitor, valuer, stocktaker, accountant, chartered surveyor etc) make sure you have confirmation from them in writing of their attention to and resolution of any queries or snags.