Jan Thomas ran an accounts
department supervising around 60 people, but she was hankering
for a total change of career and had been thinking of running her
own wine bar for sometime. One day she went into work as usual and on the spur of the moment decided
that it was time to make a decision about her future life and handed
in her notice there and then. She had decided to follow her
dream. She rang her husband and told him of her decision and
despite his surprise he said he would back Jan all the way. Jan
had never worked behind a bar before, her husband had - but many
years previous to this.
With her notice handed
in Jan and Paul talked about their new venture and decided that
one of their criteria would be to be located fairly near Jan's
family, particularly Jan's mum who had a background as a cook,
and would be working in the new establishment. They
set to work researching businesses available.
Jan had initially wanted
to run a wine bar, but they kept their options open and found a
pub quite quickly, which was on a tenancy basis, but another couple
with 20 years experience in the trade pipped them to the post. Undeterred
they found another, but again that did not work out.
They revisited the Greyhound
the next day taking Jan's parents with them. Although the
pub was rather run down they telephoned Guy Simmonds, (www.ukpubsales.com,
a national company which specialises in the sale of licensed businesses)
on Monday morning to inform him of their interest.
With Jan's accountancy
background she was able to produce her own business plan herself,
this was the third one she had prepared since their search began. The next step was to visit their bank
manager deciding to use the equity in their house to secure the deal. Jan
advised us that care and thought should be given to this decision
as the sale of your property may not happen quite as quickly as you
Jan and Paul also went on various courses, some of which were compulsory,
including a Licensee Induction Course and a Cellar Management course. It was at this point that Jan and Paul commissioned Gem Associates
Limited to carry out a Schedule of Condition on the property.
The Surveyor's Story
A few months later we were instructed by Mr and Mrs Thomas to carry
out a Schedule of Condition on the Greyhound Inn in Brackley, Northamptonshire.
We have considerable experience of the licensing trade and our Schedule
of Condition is a unique report being a mixture of a Structural
Survey for leaseholders and a Schedule of Condition that should
protect the leaseholder in years to come from Schedules of Dilapidations.
One of our surveyors duly visited the Greyhound Inn and detailed
all the problems with the building, recording its condition with
photographic evidence, and in this case we took in the region of 300
photographs, pointing out faults and areas that needed attention.
We use 'Action Required' paragraphs in our surveys to pinpoint
areas of concern and to focus our clients' attention on the main
issues. We also give the client an idea of the anticipated
costs of the work that needs doing.
Our Reports are written with
the layperson in mind and all technical terms are defined throughout
the report. We are also very keen that clients should be able
to speak to their surveyor as many times as they feel necessary
after they have read the survey and ask any questions they need
The Greyhound Inn was found to be in a poor to dilapidated state but with potential. Our surveyor found various areas where
work would be needed to be carried out to bring the Inn to a reasonable
standard. Work was required to the chimneys, roofs, gutters
and downpipes, external redecoration, internal decoration and there
had been some movement in the building. There was no central
heating and the electrics were very old and there were also environmental
Our surveyor felt that 'considerable risk' was being taken by
Jan and Paul based on the property having a 'full repairing and
Due to the works that were needed to the property we were subsequently
asked to follow the survey up with a Valuation Report and our clients
were able to negotiate on the price of the Inn based on the work
that was required to the property.
Six Months Later - Return Visit to The Greyhound
Six months after this survey was carried out we decided to make
a follow up visit to the Greyhound to find out how the new landlords
were getting on with the refurbishment and whether they felt they
had made the right decision.
We were also keen to see how our survey and advice had helped
the new landlords in making their decision to buy the property
and how it had assisted them with their refurbishment task.
Jan and Paul have found that the stock management is probably
the most difficult part to manage, particularly as their cellar
is quite small.
Jan filled us in on what had happened after they received the
Schedule of Condition. Armed with her Business Plan and
our Schedule of Condition she was able to meet with her bank manager
again to discuss the purchase of the pub. We were delighted
to hear that her Business Manager had said that our Schedule of
Condition was one of the best reports he had seen.
Jan described the Schedule of Condition as her 'bible' over the
next months. As workmen came and went during the refurbishment
she was able to copy pages from it to give to the tradesmen employed
for them to then carry out the repairs and alterations. The
report gave them a starting point. Lots of work was needed
to the property and once the structure was opened up more problems
were detected that could not have originally been identified.
The refurbishment has been a
big task. Substantial work
has been done to the roofs and Jan and Paul were able to use the
roofers contacts for other jobs and he oversaw the work done on
their behalf. Jan advised that if they were to do this over
again they would use a Project Manager. This is their first
major refurbishment and there were a lot of technical issues that
they did not feel informed enough about to make decisions on. They
felt that professional advice would have helped.
The refurbishment took longer than expected. Jan said that as the
project had progressed they had had to find extra money for the
works for which they received invoices from the contractors, which
then had to be taken to the bank to authorise the payment.
Re-opening to the Public
Jan and Paul went through two opening dates, the end of June
and 10th July and eventually opened to the public 11 weeks after they had signed the leasehold agreement.
actually had three opening nights. They put an advert in
the local paper, put board notices out and signs in the windows
and distributed leaflets around part of the town. They were
overwhelmed by the response having about 250 customers in on each
night. Family were roped in to help behind the bar, making
the events a great success.
Business has been good since the opening and Jan and Paul have
not regretted their somewhat 'snap' decision even though the hours are
rather long with Jan's typical hours of work being 8.30am - 1.30am.
Plans for the Future
We saw lots of changes when we re-visited the Inn and things had
improved greatly, though there is still work to be done in the
private accommodation and Jan and Paul are also in the process
of refurbishing two en suite rooms so as to provide Bed and Breakfast
Jan advises doing things in little stages. For example
they started serving lunches Monday to Saturday and are now serving
a Sunday Roast and evening meals Monday to Thursday. Jan's
mum is working in the kitchen and plans are now underway for Christmas
and New Year events. Was it all worth it we asked. The
answer was 'Yes'.