Download PDF Download PDF

Accounting for Hotels & Bars

You already know that running a hotel is like no other business on this earth. Apart from the usual small business compliance issues of GST, BAS, PAYG, stock takes and superannuation you have to contend with heavy regulation including liquor licensing and food handling laws, council permits and in some cases, disgruntled neighbours! If that’s not enough, most hoteliers also need to cope with irregular trading hours, erratic and seasonal trade, casual employees, intoxicated patrons and a combination of dry and wet goods.

Ideally, you need an accountant who understands the peculiarities of the hotel industry. Paul Dobson and his team at SBG Accountants  have mentored numerous hotel owners and managers through the various stages of their business life cycle, from start up right through to sale of the business. We offer hoteliers a full 'menu' of accounting services and recognise the need to analyse your various departments like the bar, bistro, bottle shop, gaming area and TAB.


We are recognised as business start-up specialists and if you are looking to buy or even start a hotel or bar there are numerous issues to consider. There is site selection, tax registrations, insurances, the commercial lease, the shop fit out and of course finance. We can assist you in all of these areas plus provide advice on HR matters, payroll and the preparation of a business plan. On an operational level, we understand what is required for a successful opening and we can even assist you in executing the successful launch of the business.

Over the past two decades our team of accountants have helped numeous pub and bar owners get their business off to a flying start. We offer you experience, technical tax knowledge and most importantly, an intimate understanding of your industry.

Starting a business is a bit like building a house and you need solid foundations. In a business sense these include the right taxation structure, accounting software, insurances, a marketing plan, website and social media channels. Your choice of business structure is critical and there are a number of different options including a company, sole trader, partnership or trust. When selecting a business structure, asset protection is a key consideration as well as your family situation, forecast level of profit and your future plans to admit new business partners and your eligibility for discount capital gains tax concessions.

Your choice of accounting software is another brick in your foundation wall. The wrong choice can be catastrophic and poor financial records are one of the biggest causes of business failure in this country. Up to date, accurate financial records let you make informed business decisions.Your software program needs to match your business needs with your level of accounting skill because too many business owners use sophisticated double entry accounting programs and produce nothing but 'computerised shoebox' records. One of our priorities is to help you cut the cost of compliance which in some cases includes training you to use the software. We support a number of programs and have a strong preference for cloud based solutions like Xero.

To build a house you also need the right tools and when 'constructing' your business we have developed a number of tools including a start-up expense checklist broken down into various categories including: 

-  leasehold improvements
-  commercial fit out expenses
-  information technology costs
-  marketing including website and signage
-  equipment
-  trading stock

These figures then slot into a cash flow budget template that let us produce a forecast of your first year's trading results. If you need a vehicle in your business we can assist you with finance by chattel mortgage or lease through one of our affiliate partners. Not only that, you can access fleet pricing on your new car, ute or light commercial van that could save you thousands of dollars.

Through our affiliate partners we can also help you source funds to finance your business purchase, shop fit out, equipment, beer garden construction, renovation of the public bar or gaming area, motor vehicle or van. Pricing is absolutely vital to the success of your retail or pro shop and we can help you do some price modelling so you know your break even point and understand the financial implications of price increases by your suppliers. We also use benchmarks to compare your business performance against your industry peers so you know what is working in your business, what's not working and what needs working on.


For business owners, your marketing can be the difference between gloom, doom and boom.

Most hotels, bars and clubs rely on their reputation and referrals to grow their business and while these ingredients remain important, you need to shift your marketing focus online. Increasingly local searches like ‘Hotel South Melbourne’ are driving traffic to your website and often your website is the first touch point with a potential new customer. As you know, you only get one chance to make a good first impression and your website is your silent sales person working 24/7 to promote your business.

One of our biggest points of difference compared to other accounting firms is our marketing expertise. We can assist you with your branding (business name, logo and slogan), your corporate brochure and help you harness the power of social media to win more referrals. Over the past few years we have worked with a number of pubs and clubs to help them create affordable, quality lead generation websites that are responsive to smart phones and tablets. We can provide advice and guidance with your website content including video production and if your website lacks calls to action or lead magnets we'll help you build them. In addition, we'll introduce you to strategies like re-marketing and search engine optimization to drive more traffic to your website.

If you aren’t using some of these marketing techniques your business probably won't reach its full profit potential.

The marketing process begins with your branding and we have worked through the process with dozens of clients over the years and using some online resources we can help you build a modern brand that resonates with your target market.

Our role includes helping you understand the Four Ways to Grow A Business and in the process, identify the key profit drivers in your business. We can talk you through various profit improvement strategies and even quantify the profit improvement potential in your business. Our role is to make sure you don't leave any profit on the table.

To be frank, that’s just the beginning. As accountants we can do some financial modelling and using industry benchmarks we can compare the performance of your pub, club or bar against your competitors so you understand what is working in the business and what needs working on.

We do so much more than just tax. We view the tax return as the start of the client process, not the end and as ‘business and profit builders’ we provide strategies and solutions to help you grow the value of your hotel or bar. Our business advisors offer hoteliers and bar owners a range of tailored solutions including:

  • Start-Up Business Advice for Hotels, Bars and Bistros
  • Advice regarding the Purchase or Sale of your Hotel, Bar or Bistro
  • Spreadsheets and Tools including a Start Up Expense Checklist and Pricing Calculator
  • Advice and Establishment of Your Business Structure taking into account issues like Asset Protection, Tax Minimisation and Future Discount Capital Gains Tax Concessions
  • Business Registrations including ABN, TFN, GST, WorkCover etc.
  • Preparation of Business Plans, Cash Flow Forecasts and Profit Projections
  • Accounting Software Selection and Training – Point of Sale, Bookkeeping & Payroll
  • Site Location and Advice Regarding your Tenancy Lease
  • Preparation of Finance Applications & Bank Submissions
  • Preparation and Analysis of Financial Statements
  • Bookkeeping and Payroll Services
  • Costing of Menu, Bar & Bottle Shop
  • Income Tax Returns and Tax Planning Strategies
  • Industry Benchmarking and KPI Management
  • Marketing Audit including an evaluation of your branding, website, brochures and menus plus diner trends
  • Advice and Assistance with the Development, Content and Website SEO
  • Personal Financial Planning & Wealth Creation Strategies
  • Business & Risk Insurances
  • Vehicle and Equipment Finance (Renovation, Construction, Chattel Mortgage, Lease)
  • Monitoring and Controlling Labour costs
  • Advice regarding Claiming Motor Vehicle Costs
  • Recession and Survival Strategies
  • Business Succession Planning

At SBG Accountants & Business Advisors we have a deep understanding of how hotels and bars operate. We work with proprietors across the country and tailor our accounting, tax and business consulting services to fit your specific needs. If you are looking to buy a business or just want a fresh pair of eyes to look at your hotel or bistro  contact us today.  

We also invite you to book a FREE, one hour introductory consultation to discuss your business needs. You can expect practical business, tax, marketing and financial advice that could have a significant impact on your bottom line. To book a time, call us today on (03) 9629 6744 or complete your details in the box at the top of this page. Let's get to work ON your pub, club, bistro or bar so it is more profitable, valuable and saleable.

SBG Accountants & Business Advisors - Taking Care of Business