Well they say that nothing worth getting is easy so I look forward to reaping the results of my efforts when I am safely returned to the correct side of the bar! Needless to say the current potential venue sits at the end of a path that is far from straight, as always every step reveals an unexpected twist or turn. Having rustled up a super fast survey the report was much along the lines of my own thoughts which is not good news of itself. Interestingly my surveyor has also bottled a decision on the key concern so I am now waiting for estimates to tell me the answer to the question that neither of us has been able to answer namely “how bad?” which, of course, translates into “how much?”
In the various conversations that have followed the various potential next venues it is interesting that people don’t actually see the psychological roller coaster ride that publicans go through. It starts with a possibility, there is no perfect venue there are always a number of compromises and if they stack up we hit the stage of ‘potential’. Potential equates to maybe ten pages of a business plan and twenty to forty hours of research, this leads to a viewing. By the time I view a property I have a plan in my mind, I can see where I would direct the venue, but I know that my idea is only half the story if it is even that much.
People misunderstand the purpose of a viewing it is not about you seeing if the venue fits, far from it, it is about the venue seeing if you fit. The venue tells you where your ideas are flawed or doomed to fail, an odd wall or window is enough to scupper a mental plan. During the viewing I adjust the plan that is in my mind to fit the venue and a whole new series of questions are raised. Despite what the agents tell you about blank canvases viewing a stripped shell is a strange experience, you can almost hear broken dreams crunching underfoot. This is not like a house viewing, when you view a stripped pub it is almost certain that somebody has failed (for whatever reason) and left broken.
At the point of viewing the business plan will number 20-30 pages and, excluding the viewing, I will have spent some 80 hours on the project. After the viewing serious work is always needed to adjust the business plan and the financials with whole sections stripped out and replaced. Some questions raised by the viewing will be readily answered but some require the commission of suppliers and yet more require research. On average I will have put some 140 hours into research and producing a business plan that, by now, numbers 50 pages. Having done all this it will, inevitably, come down to a harsh commercial decision based on the numbers and if the answer is no then the project is closed and filed.
I now have 5 closed files and 1 active, I will let you do the maths as to what that has cost in time alone, cash burn is a whole other horror story. I have shared this with you so that should you be nearby when somebody asks “are you sure you want a pub?” or “do you think there is any future in a pub?” you will know what an effort it can take to smile and shrug it off. Here’s hoping that I don’t have to close this file and open another one.