Becoming a business owner | 4 min read

What it’s really like to buy a franchise bar

Last updated: April 30, 2020

Buying and owning a franchise bar is not all craft beer and cocktails, as Steve Edwards, owner of a Sporting Globe Bar & Grill franchise in Melbourne will tell you.

Once he secured the right funding, at 25, he opened his first bar and hasn’t looked back since.

Here’s how Steve made the franchise model work for him and what he learned along the way.


Find your passion

Owning a bar and working weekends and evenings can be hard. But having passion helps when things in business get tough.

Steve says you “have to love what you do” and that even though bar ownership isn’t easy, it can be very rewarding if you’re committed. He loves being hands-on in the day-to-day running of the bar and thinks that being passionate about what he’s doing makes any tough days easier.

Steve was in management before becoming a franchisee, but he actually began as a bartender. Now, as the owner, his passion for the sports bar concept motivates him every day as he focuses on making sure customers have a great experience and that his staff are engaged and happy.


Commit to the model

Picking an industry that you love is a great place to start. But if you’re going to choose a franchise, you’ll also need to ‘buy in’ to the model.

Steve was keen on franchising from the get-go. In particular, he was attracted to the immediate support network and not having to figure everything out for himself.

From day one, the head office handled a lot of the nitty-gritty details. They helped him navigate the buying process and managed things like store design and fit-out.

Beyond helping set the business up, the franchise continues to support Steve with regular visits from a local business manager, marketing and social media services, help with payroll and accounts, building development, operations support, HR, and training. “I like the support from the dedicated head office team. They’re only ever a phone call away.”

Partnering with a franchisor isn’t for everyone. If you have the ability and time to create and execute your own systems, an independent bar may suit you better. If you’re drawn to the convenience of a ready-made support system, a franchise bar may tick the right boxes.


Talk to everyone

Once you’re sure you want a franchise bar, the real research needs to begin. Simply put, you need to talk to everyone. The franchisor, other franchisees, and an accountant and lawyer need to be on your call list.

“Do your homework on the brand you’re buying into. Understand the culture, the performance indicators and what it takes to run a successful business within that company”, advises Steve. He started by talking to the head office about their systems and spent time with other franchise bar owners to understand their buying and owning experiences.

Steve also spoke at length with his accountant and lawyer to figure out his finance options, and ensure any contracts and agreements were in order.

If bar work is new for you, it’s also worth spending some time working in the business. Steve says knowing what to expect day-to-day from his time as a bartender and manager was invaluable. Anything you can do to sure-up your decision and ease the transition from employee to owner will be worthwhile.


Sort your finances

Getting your hands on the money you need to fund your business dreams isn’t always easy and is a barrier for many buyers.

“The greatest challenge I faced when buying a business was borrowing the money.” To make it happen, he chose to go in with a franchise partner and split the costs of the purchase.

Steve recommends other buyers look at their funding options up front, as this was a sticking point for him despite finding the rest of the buying process pretty smooth.

With traditional bank loans, alternative peer-to-peer lending schemes and a range of options in between, if you do your research you’ll likely find something that suits you.


Sound like you?

Late nights, function scheduling, local marketing, employee management and a whole lot of hard work…owning a bar is so much more than slinging beers and chatting with the locals.

But if you’re passionate about the industry, want the backing of a proven system and the freedom of being your own boss, a franchise bar can be a great business investment.

Go in with your eyes wide open, jump into some thorough research and see what’s out there now by browsing franchise bars for sale.

You never know, like Steve, you may be a successful franchise owner in the making!