Opening a Bar Abroad: A Brief Guide

bars

For many people, opening a bar in another country is a lifelong ambition. Not only does it offer the opportunity to relocate to warmer climates, but it could be a profitable and life affirming venture.

The reality, however, is a lot further from people’s expectations. Opening a bar in another country is even harder than doing so in your own, and opening a bar on home soil is no small feat. Resorts in other countries often operate on a seasonal basis, plus you have to overcome the language barrier. If it is something you have always wanted to do however, do not be discouraged. With money, planning and a lot of preparation, opening a bar abroad is certainly possible. Moreover, it is entirely possible to make it a success. Today we are going to offer some initial advice on opening a bar in another country.

Planning and Preparation

If this is something you are really motivated by, and you are willing to make the necessary sacrifices, great! A lot of people say they want to open a bar abroad, but when they realise how much work is involved they soon give up. If you have not been deterred by the mountain ahead, we applaud you. Now you need to sit down and work out how, exactly, you are going to overcome this mountain.

Firstly, ask yourself: ‘’Do I really want to do this?’’. For several years from opening the doors, you may not make much, if any, profit. Moreover, you will usually have to work exceptionally hard and long hours to get the ball rolling. Lastly, you need to figure out if you are cut out for the bar industry. It can be chaotic at times, and you may have to deal with some unpleasant characters (maybe on a regular basis). If you are prepared to navigate these setbacks, you need to create an extensive plan which encapsulates the next few years. Write down everything: from your goals and ambitions to your budget. Your plan may need to consider and explore the following:

  • Market research
  • Location (Country as well as town/city in said country)
  • Location of establishment (Plus further localised market research)
  • Size of the establishment you wish to undertake
  • Complete evaluation of associated costs
  • Complete financial projections/ evaluation
  • Prospects (Plus due diligence on any places of interest)
  • Additional staff considerations
  • Legal aspects of ownership (Rent, tax, food, music, beverage licences, health and safety certification, immigration certification/ criteria)
  • Goals/ ambitions divided into the first 5 years. Align specific goals with years, and outline how you intend to meet these goals
  • Property/ market agent research
  • Marketing plan
  • Design proposals
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Execution

If you are at the stage where you have surpassed planning and preparation, you are probably at the point of opening your bar. The fun starts here! Before you open the doors, you need to ensure you have put a great deal of effort into both your marketing and the look and feel of your bar. This will set you apart from the competition, and will make people want to visit your bar instead of the place they usually frequent. From features like air conditioning, which will help immensely in hot countries, to perhaps luxury items like a pool table, you want to give people a reason to visit your bar. Of course as part of your research in the preparation stage you should have figured out what the competition offers and how you can surpass them.

Marketing is going to be hugely important in the initial stages and weeks of opening. Word of mouth is not enough in this day and age, especially in a market as saturated as the bar industry. You will need to utilise local channels (newspapers, local advertising) as well as social media. Especially for new or returning tourists, social media will be extremely effective.

Once the doors are open, you will have to work incredibly hard in the first few years. The customer is always right will be your mantra, and you will have to go above and beyond to satisfy customers. That will be your best chance at generating new and returning business. Your bar should be the only place to be in town, and you are instrumental in that. Some charm, charisma and a laid back, polite attitude will go a long way. Do not approach customers like they owe you something or they are inconveniencing you. Instead, be inquisitive and try to get to know your customers. Afterall, part of the reason for opening a bar abroad is to immerse yourself in a different culture. If customers feel like they are heard in your bar, and the atmosphere is fun and laid back, they will want to return. It is as simple as that.

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Opening a bar in another country is never easy. You are likely to face a number of challenges before opening and after opening. If you persevere however, you will embark on a journey that will add great value to your life and may even make you very wealthy.

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