Industry sector: Leisure

Pool hall: Buy an existing business


You might decide to buy an existing snooker and pool club rather than start your own venture from scratch. Buying a going concern can mean that:

  • the premises, tables, catering facilities and so on are already in place
  • there is an established membership or customer base
  • the business can generate income immediately
  • suppliers have been identified and relationships established with them
  • the business has a track record, which can help if you are looking for finance
  • staff are already in place
  • a business website and/or Facebook and Twitter accounts have already been set up

However, look critically at any business that you are interested in to make sure that the price you negotiate with the seller is a fair one. Try to establish why the business is for sale - for example, is the owner keen to retire or is there another personal reason for selling up.

Your market research into the sector as a whole and the locality in particular will help you to establish whether or not the owner is selling because he or she can no longer generate enough income from the business. This may not necessarily deter you - many business people are confident that they can turn a failing business around. The important thing is to have established the current position so that the price you pay for the business is not too high.

Other matters to consider include:

  • the state of the premises, fittings, equipment and so on. Will you have to spend money refurbishing or replacing assets such as tables, which can be very expensive. Also give some thought to whether the mix of snooker and pool tables is as you would like it to be
  • the condition and value of any stock you are buying - for example food and drink if there is a bar or restaurant, and retail items if there is an on-site shop. Check this over carefully before agreeing a price
  • is the existing owner prepared to give you some training after you take over (if you think you'll need it)
  • existing staff rights
  • how to retain key personnel once you've taken over
  • does the business owe money that you will be responsible for
  • if you are paying for goodwill, to what extent does this depend on the skills and personality of the seller

Ask your accountant to look critically at the business accounts for the past three years and discuss with him or her the selling price in the light of what the accounts reveal. Make sure you budget for other professional fees such as legal fees and valuation and survey costs.