Enter in your cash flow forecast the amount of rent you will have to pay for your premises in the months that you will have to pay it.
If you have not yet decided on a particular premises you could contact a local estate agent who handles commercial property to get an idea of how much the rent is likely to be. For a business like a sandwich bar, location is usually very important. You will probably need to look for somewhere that either has a large volume of passing trade - for example near the city centre - or is close to several large workplaces. It's often a trade-off between what you would ideally like and what you can afford. Of course, one way to make up for a less than perfect location could be to run a delivery round.
Bear in mind your premises should be accessible to customers and staff who are disabled.
Your solicitor will help you with the lease agreement but make sure that you're clear about:
- whether the premises can be used as a sandwich bar
- how frequently the rent will be reviewed
- how long the lease runs for
- what you and the landlord are each responsible for
- the position as regards sub-letting
Business usage classes
Commercial premises are allocated a usage class by the local planning authority. This specifies what type of business may be carried on at that premises. Planning usage classes covering cafe and restaurant activities are as follows:
- A3 - restaurants and cafes (food and drink for consumption on the premises)
- A4 - drinking establishments (pubs and wine bars, but not night clubs)
- A5 - hot food takeaways (hot food for consumption off the premises)
Although it may be possible to change the usage classification, this requires planning consent. It's easier to change to some classifications than to others - for example it can be difficult to change from a cafe or restaurant serving food for consumption on the premises to a hot food takeaway. So it's generally wise to look for premises that already have the appropriate usage classification.
It's sometimes possible to run a sandwich bar from A1 premises (retail). For example, if you're going to sell ready-prepared sandwiches and you're not going to do any cooking on the premises - and if you're going to have few or no tables for eat-in customers - then the planning department may not require A3 permission. However, do check carefully first before committing to a particular premises.
The British Sandwich Association (BSA) can refer members to specialist consultants on matters such as rent negotiations and rates reviews. You can find out more on the BSA website.