Opening a restaurant is a gigantic life-changing decision. There is so much to plan in advance to be prepared. But with the right plan, you can do it.
The key to running a successful restaurant is learning from others who have done it before and following the steps that will lead you to prosperity.
Conduct Market Research
Before opening your restaurant business you’ll need to write up a business plan. A business plan is for your restaurant like a script is for a movie. The first thing to start with is market research.
There are two main types of market research you’ll focus on:
The demographics of a specific location are statistics about the people living in the area. Information like:
- Education Level
You can use this data to start building a profile of a target customer that your restaurant is designed to appeal to.
Next you need to find out if your ideas to appeal to your target customer actually get the job done— before you ramp up into full gear.
- Taste tests
- Discussion panels
- Informal conversations
- Feedback cards
Market research is the backbone of your entire restaurant business plan. You will choose your location, food, prices, theme, and everything else based on your market research and finding your target guest. Before moving on to a big capital investment, conduct thorough market research.
Read More: How to Design Your Restaurant Menu
Choose a Location Wisely
Location. Location. Location. It’s not just where it is, the building adds its own dimension. So much is determined by the location you choose:
- How much room you have for prep
- How big the dining room is
- The size of the kitchen
- How much foot-traffic to expect
- The type of diners you’ll attract
- How much you’ll pay for rent / lease
Choose your location wisely based on the market research you conducted and your target guest. Make sure your restaurant is convenient for them to access. Remember that 80% of your regulars will come from a 10 mile radius of your restaurant.
You can find opportunities by working with the city planners. Find out when new commercial areas, shopping malls, housing, office complexes, and schools will open in your city. They will also need new restaurants to feed this influx of people to the area.
Assess Available Capital
Another part of your restaurant business plan is to create a budget. You do this by estimating costs and determining your available capital.
One of the biggest mistakes that can be made at the planning stage of a restaurant is to underestimate the required capital. It’s always going to cost more than you think, so make sure to build in a safety net.
A restaurant is a cash-hungry business. Without access to appropriate capital you’ll be unable to accomplish all the things you need to do to keep your restaurant running. If you don’t have access to the money you need for your vision you may have to narrow the scope, change locations or start small.
Focus on Operations
Plan out your operational systems before the launch. This will go in your business plan and help to build training materials for employees and managers. How you run your restaurant should always tie back into serving the needs of your target guest.
- Standards for cleaning the kitchen
- How food is tagged and rotated
- How guests are greeted and seated
- Order flow — how orders move from the guest, to the server, to the kitchen
- Training standards
- What technology and systems will be in place
If this is your first restaurant or you want to implement the latest systems for efficiency, you might consider hiring a restaurant consultant or a restaurant opening team to help you get the best operational systems in place
Design Your Menu
Planning your menu is an in-depth process. You need your food to have high quality, please your guests’ tastes and meet their budget. This is another instance where understanding the demographics of your target guest will provide you with creative solutions.
Menu engineering is “cracking the code” to get the most perceived value from the food you sell. This allows you to set a price that pleases both your guests and your bottom line.
Work with your food vendors to determine what quantities of ingredients you need to buy to get the best price. Test your dishes out with members of your target market to get feedback.
Read More: How to Design Your Restaurant Menu
Train Your Staff
Because restaurants have such a high turnover rate it can sometimes seem like wasted work to train your restaurant staff. But the fact is that nothing could be farther from the truth.
The most important thing you can do to ensure consistent delivery of a high quality guest experience is to train managers, bartenders, cooks and servers to the specific standards of your brand.
Through good staff training and process enforcement you can reduce some of the inevitable staff churn. Make your restaurant employees feel like they are part of a team and give them support and opportunities for growth.
Invest in Marketing
It can’t be understated how important your restaurant marketing plan is. There is no such thing as “if you build it, they will come.” Think critically about creating a marketing plan.
Use your marketing to get out the message to your target customers by going where they are:
- TV commercials
- Direct mail
- Social media ads
- Blog posts
- Radio spots
- YouTube videos
- Outdoor signs and billboards
You’ll get the best bang for your buck when you know what preferred media your target customer consumes. In fact, many advertising services allow you to filter your ads directly to those who match your target profile.
These are the eight most important tips for opening a successful restaurant.
Do your due diligence when researching your target market because it will influence every other decision you make. Choose a location that fits your budget, your concept and is convenient for your target customers to make frequent visits.
An accurate estimation of your startup costs is critical to future success. It will always take more capital to get started than you think. So build in a sturdy safety net.
Design processes for delivering the quality service you need to entice repeat business from your target guest. Carefully design your menu to satisfy their needs while maintaining a comfortable profit margin.
Train your staff on the policies and procedures that you’ve designed. It will reduce staff turnover and ensure your guests receive the quality of service you demand.
Don’t let your hard work go unnoticed. Your restaurant marketing campaign is an important part of your business plan. Getting the word out is vital.
This free guide to starting a successful restaurant is part of a training series provided by Rezku. Rezku is a leading developer of restaurant management systems including host stand and reservations management, point of sale with tableside ordering, gift card and loyalty programs and more.