Insurance Documents – you will have organised various insurance policies to come into force on the day of the changeover. You are required by law to have Public Liability and Employers’ Liability Insurance and must display the certificates for them. If you rent your pub then in all likelihood your landlord will organise Buildings Insurance (they will recover the cost of this along with your pub rent), if you are purchasing the pub you will need to organise your own Buildings Insurance. Whether you rent or buy your pub you will also need to organise Contents and Trade Insurance yourself.
Top Tip – you will probably have given an estimate to your insurer or insurance broker for the value of fixtures and fittings, stock, glassware, cash cover etc. If, on the day there is a significant difference to the actual value of these items to your pre-acquisition estimates (either over or under) then make sure you get your policy altered to reflect the true figures as soon as possible. It’s not good to be either over or under insured, the former is costing you more in premiums and the latter leaves you exposed in the event of any insurable loss.
Gaming/Vending Machines etc Rental Agreements – if the pub has gaming or vending machines then make sure you have a copy of the rental agreements and understand when they will be emptied/serviced etc. If you have a tenanted/leased pub (with a machine tie) then in all probability your landlord will deal with gaming machines and their games machine controller will deal with this aspect of your business. If you have a free of machine tie or a free house/ free hold pub then you will need to deal with this yourself.
Most Vending machine contracts etc are at the discretion of the pub operator irrespective of the type of pub operation (rented or owned) and you will need to deal with this yourself.
Top Tip – ensure gaming machines and vending machines have been emptied for the previous owner. Gaming machines contain a cash float which belongs to the pub operator, enquire of the machine operating company before handover day the amount of cash you will require to re-float the machine on handover day, so you can add this to your overall cash float requirement.
Equipment Details of outstanding rent or hire agreements – your pre-handover inventory list may indicate certain equipment is on hire from third parties (ice machines, dishwashers, glass washers, tills and coffee machines are commonly on hire), make sure you have details of these machines so you can decide in advance if you wish to continue renting them, ask the rental company to install the latest version, ask the rental company to carry out a handover service visit or make other arrangements to either rent or buy your own equipment, in which case they will need to visit on handover day to remove their equipment.
Top Tip – you are under no obligation to continue a rental agreement made by the previous owner of the pub, in consequence you can often negotiate a better deal to retain the equipment on site, especially if you can show you can get the equivalent kit cheaper from another supplier.
Beer Cellar (confirm ownership of equipment) – an area of misunderstanding that may occur is in relation to the various pieces of equipment in the beer cellar. The “beer raising” equipment (bar fonts, flash coolers, pipe-work, the refrigerated beer cooling system ,sometimes know as the “python”, etc) will be the property of one or more brewers. Sometimes this equipment belongs (by inter-brewery agreement) to the “principal brewer” i.e. the brewer who shifts the largest volume of beer through the system. Soft Drink dispense equipment and associated fonts/pipes/cooling will belong to the brand owner of the soft drinks you dispense. The cellar cooling equipment, which keeps your beer store(s) at the correct temperature will normally be owned by either the landlord (if your pub is rented) or by you when you buy a free hold pub. The gas dispense system, including canisters and any associated machinery and pipes will belong to the dispense gas supplier. Make sure you have a clear understanding of who owns what so you will know which pieces of equipment you will be responsible for insuring, servicing, maintaining or replacing.
Cellar Management etc – have a clear understanding of the individual quirks of the cellar you will be using, for instance sump pumps and drainage, where beer line cleaning equipment, chemicals, automatic beer line cleaning systems, racking, self-tilting stillages etc are and in what condition they are.
Top Tip – although you may have your own idea of how and when beer line cleaning will be carried out it is always worthwhile enquiring of the outgoing owner if there are any tips and tricks employed to minimise cost and time they have adopted during their tenure.
Cold Storage Check – it’s best to check all fridges, freezers, bottle chiller cabinets, cold rooms, beer cellar to ensure the appropriate temperatures are being maintained so remedial action can be taken as soon as possible if there is a problem. (This is an ideal task for staff who might otherwise be hanging around during the day).