With consumers tending to spend money on eating out no matter how tight their budget is or what the state of the economy is like, it’s no wonder you’re interested in starting a restaurant. However, no matter how good a cook you are or how much you love food or have a wonderful concept, you must remember there’s more to launching a successful restaurant than this.
Food businesses are expensive to start, hard to make a profit in, and always have a lot of competition. You need a restaurant marketing plan, quality equipment and trustworthy employees. If you don’t have the business smarts along with the food smarts, your venture won’t last long. There are numerous steps you can take, though, to put yourself in the best position for success. Here are some things to do before you open your restaurant.
Get Practical Experience
If you’re already coming from the world of hospitality, having worked in restaurants for years, you will have helpful inside knowledge. If you haven’t, though, it’s important to get a job in a food service business for at least a few months before you try to run your own venture.
This isn’t just about the actual cooking side of things, either. Restaurant experience is necessary because it will show you the behind-the-scenes sides of running a venture. You’ll better understand what brings customers in and keeps them coming back, how to create a menu that works, tips for buying the right supplies, how to set up a functional restaurant space, and staffing requirements, to name a few.
General market research is essential, too, so investigate likely competitors. Keep in mind that this includes not just other restaurants in the suburb or street where you want to open an eatery, but in the entire city; people do travel to eat out.
Research the competition to see which types of cuisines people are offering, what dishes are on menus, how restaurateurs brand and advertise their businesses, the prices charged, what reviewers like and dislike about competitors, how many staff they roster on at a time, etc. Keep various types of establishments in mind when conducting research as well. For instance, you might find that restaurateurs who write food truck business plans make higher profits than traditional restaurants.
Also, get to know your ideal customer base. Discover things about their eating habits (e.g., how many times per week they eat out, and why they choose to do so), lifestyle, social groups, the publications or websites they read, socioeconomic status, interests and hobbies, and so on. By learning this information, you will be better able to develop a restaurant that not only gets customers to come in for a meal once, but time and time again.
Determine A Point Of Difference
With so many restaurants for people to choose from in most suburbs, new ventures must find a way to stand out. Decide on a clear point of difference for your business that you think will attract your target market. Have a point of difference so that you gain attention when you first open and keep that attention as time goes on.
There are numerous ways to create a niche. For example, your “unique selling proposition” can come from where you’re located, the prices you charge, the type of food or drinks you serve, how you serve it, when you’re open, how you advertise, or something else altogether.
Restaurants are expensive to both setup and run. The fit-out can easily reach $100,000 and upwards, plus then you have to create a top commercial kitchen with all the latest cooking appliances and equipment and pay for the building itself if that’s the path you choose.
Over time, costs stay high, too. You’ll need to source top quality commercial kitchen parts to replace things as needed, purchase new linen and menus, buy produce and other supplies every week, pay for staffing costs, and cover your lease if you’re renting premises. This all adds up and can be a huge strain for a single person/family to cover.
It pays, then, to find one or more business partners. Look for entrepreneurs who have previously invested in restaurants or other food ventures. Their knowledge will help you to get off on the right foot. Therefore, you should try to find business partners within the restaurant industry.
Hire The Right Staff
Take care with human resources, too. A large part of what makes restaurants successful is the lineup of staff they hire. Choose positive, polite, proactive, and competent wait and front-of-house staff to keep customers happy and coming back for more. Find excellent chefs and related workers to create delightful menus. Look for a knowledgeable sommelier to impress customers with. Search for efficient dishwashers, along with other people to help you keep the kitchen running properly. Take time to find the right people.
Once you’ve hired good staff members, treat them well and enable them to feel a true part of the team so that you retain them for the long term, too.
Creating a successful restaurant is a huge feat and takes time, money, energy, and knowledge. By following the steps listed above, though, you’ll be better able to beat the competition and create a hospitality venture that people rave about for years to come.