EPOS/Tills programming / training – unless you are going to keep absolutely every price and menu the same as the outgoing business you will need to reprogram any EPOS till with your prices and menus. Whilst your staff may know how to use the tills you may not, so make sure either the outgoing publican or the EPOS supplier is on hand to provide training and any assistance you need in reprogramming.
Top Tip – make sure all tills have had a final reading by the outgoing publican so only your transactions are recorded from the start of your business. This small step often gets overlooked in the maelstrom of handover days.
Fire Risk Assessment – you have a legal responsibility to ensure all fire regulations are adhered to so ensure you have a copy of the outgoing operator’s Fire Risk Assessment (FRA) and any associated Fire Safety documents (log books, training records, fire extinguisher/fire alarm certificates etc). As part of the FRA you’ll need to check all fire fighting equipment, emergency lighting, fire alarm/suppression systems are in good working order.
Fire Safety Contract – your fire extinguishers, emergency lighting and fire alarm system should be covered by a service and maintenance contract so ensure you get copies of these contracts from your predecessors.
First Aid Boxes – you have a legal responsibility as an employer and owner of premises open to the public to provide and maintain First Aid Boxes with all their requisite contents in the event of a first aid emergency.
Top Tip – make sure you know who the appointed person or registered First Aider(s) are for the business and if you’re not already qualified get trained as soon as possible after taking over the business. This also applies to Fire Safety, Food Hygiene and Manual Handling training.
Inland Revenue Registration – unless you are processing payroll yourself then do check your payroll service or accountant has registered your business as an employer. With the advent of Real Time Information for PAYE you only have a limited period of time to register and comply with PAYE when you takeover a pub business. You will, of course, have to register your business with HMRC for tax purposes whether you are a sole trader, partnership or limited company; and for the latter you will have needed to incorporate your company via Companies House.
VAT Registration – unless your business has a relatively small turnover your pub business will need to be registered for Value Added Tax (VAT) and have a current VAT number from the moment you start trading. Make sure either you or your accountant has registered the business with HMRC for VAT and a valid VAT number has been issued for the business.
Licences Personal/Premises and Machine Permits – if you are renting your pub from a pubco or brewery their licensing department will, in all probability, administer the Premises Licence on behalf of your landlord. Consequently they will deal with any matters relating to the change in ownership of the pub business. If you are purchasing a free hold/ free house your licensing solicitor will deal with these matters. In any event check with the person dealing with this for you to ensure all is in order and you receive a copy (or original) of the Premises Licence along with any gaming machine permits.
With regard to your Personal Licence, whether you rent or buy your pub you are responsible for making sure you obtain your Personal Licence, as you will need this if you are to be the Designated Premises Supervisor named on the Premises Licence and to authorise the sale of alcohol by your staff. Your licensing solicitor will advise you on the necessary training and process for obtaining a Personal Licence.
Take the time on the day to ensure all staff serving alcohol have a clear understanding of the Licensing Act 2003 and their duties and responsibilities under the law.
Top Tip – make sure you have a prepared authority to sell alcohol letter or form available for all members of staff to sign to hand, before they commence selling alcohol from the pub.
Operating Schedule (opening times/ licensing conditions) – make sure you are familiar with the whole of the Operating Schedule with special regard to opening hours and licensing conditions. For instance don’t go planning an opening party on the night of the handover that is billed to run until midnight if your agreed opening times are only to 11pm. If your opening night falls outside normal opening hours make sure you or your licensing solicitor apply for a Temporary Event Notice to cover any extended hours etc.