Starting your own restaurant can be extremely rewarding, but it’s probably going to be the most difficult project you’ve ever undertaken.
There is a lot to know before you start. But the good news is that many have come before you and there is a wealth of information.
This article will provide important insight for new restaurant owners and those who want to run a successful restaurant startup.
To learn more about starting a restaurant and writing your business plan, view additional free articles in our resource library.
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Starting Your Restaurant Off Right
Keep Costs Low
You need to be very careful about planning and finances. Budgeting and bookkeeping is a big part of any business. If you need to brush up you can take free online classes
Even established restaurant operators face financial challenges. To avoid a desperate situation it’s important to keep costs low, especially while you grow and build a clientele. Spending too much money when you’re starting a restaurant can really hurt your chance of success.
Start Small First
Many successful restaurant owners started a food truck or catering business before opening a brick-and-mortar restaurant. Thinking small can help you reach big dreams.
Running a food truck, food cart or popup restaurant will provide a solid foundation before starting a restaurant. You’ll to learn how to manage food costs, inventory, and bookkeeping. These are key skills to master before putting more money on the line.
Most importantly, you’ll build your business, your brand and gain a following.
Negotiate A Good Lease
You’ll need time to gain a following when opening a new restaurant. Until your restaurant is profitable you’re burning cash. Paying a high rent isn’t going to work in your favor.
Even with the best market research and planning you don’t know what’s going to happen. Beware of long leases and leases with harsh penalties. If you decide to change locations or close your restaurant in a year you don’t want to be on the hook.
Understand the Needs of the Community
Demographics are statistics about the locals. It breaks people into groups based on age, gender, education, income, etc.
This information gives you a sense of who’s going out to eat nearby. Are they your kind of people? Will they “get” your concept?
To open a successful restaurant startup, you need to be a welcome addition to the community. You do this by providing something of value that was previously missing.
Do Market Research
An easy way to find out if you’ve found the right location is to stand around. What’s going on? Are there people here? Is it a vibrant community with things happening nearby or is it a ghost town?
Chat up people passing by and ask them about the neighborhood. Why are they there? Ask what kind of food they like and if they are interested in your restaurant concept.
Have lunch at the restaurants nearby and see what’s going on. Ask your fellow diners what they like and don’t like. Talk to the owners and ask if they are making money.
Read More: Restaurant Interior Design
Running Your Restaurant Startup
Running a restaurant through the startup phase requires immense dedication and lots of planning. A great place to learn is our free resource library designed to help restaurant owners become more successful.
The Keys to Running a Successful Startup:
Deliver high quality guest experiences
This is what it’s all about. To do this you need to identify your target guest. It’s a mistake to try to please everybody. To become a successful restaurant owner you need to choose a specific target guest to profile.
Use this profile to develop your brand, your service model and your restaurant location. Everything you do should be an informed choice to enhance the dining experience for your chosen model customer.
Develop processes and procedures
The only way to ensure that your guests consistently receive quality service is to define your standards. Develop processes to achieve these standards. And then enforce them.
Design systems for day to day restaurant operations that include:
- Cleaning regimens
- Inventory management processes
- How to take and ring in orders
- Food quality control processes
- Standards for hiring and training new staff
Instructing your staff in these procedures is how you ensure a superior guest experience, every time.
Create a culture of excellence
This means setting high but achievable goals for your staff, and building in systems of accountability.
Your restaurant success depends on the day to day activities of your employees. You can’t fake caring about the needs of diners, or being truly invested in providing the best guest experiences. If you want things to run smoothly when you’re not around, your staff needs to be “all in”.
Restaurant applicants are often young, inexperienced workers. This is why you need well-developed systems in place with a plan for how to train newbies. You can learn more about managing restaurant staff in our free resource library.
Know your KPIs
KPIs are key performance indicators. They help you see when you’re on track and warn you if there could be trouble ahead.
Track your KPIs using restaurant management technology from Rezku:
- Sales — This is the big one: net sales, sales per hour, sales by products and more.
- Inventory — Tracking ingredient inventory helps you plan ahead and catch thieves.
- Labor — Track labor costs against sales to see if you need to send people home.
- Table turn times — Knowing how long guests sit at their tables helps you plan service, take more reservations and get more seatings per meal.
By tracking Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) in your restaurant you’ll be able to quantify the success of your business.
The point of sale and table management systems from Rezku track your restaurant KPIs and deliver detailed analytic reports. This is actionable information that allows you to reduce waste and increase profitability.
For more information, read our Learning Center article “Restaurant KPIs.” For a free restaurant management technology consultation with an expert contact Rezku today.
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Starting a restaurant isn’t easy by any means, but if you follow the tips in this guide and continue learning through our extensive free resource library, you’ll stack the deck in your favor.
Starting a restaurant means keeping costs low. Opening a food truck or mobile food business first can keep costs down while you learn the restaurant business. When you are ready to open a brick and mortar restaurant stay away from long leases. Once you’ve proven your concept you can take on a longer term.
Do lots of planning, especially regarding your target guest and the required market research. Get to know the locals before you open to make sure it’s a good fit.
After opening day, you have lots of work ahead of you. Develop systems and policies to ensure consistent delivery of a high quality guest experience. Be a leader and develop a strong culture of achievement through proper training of new employees.
Keep an eye on the numbers at all times. Track your KPIs with the help of advanced software systems that do the heavy lifting for you. By tracking KPIs you’ll learn from past mistakes and avoid bigger ones in the future.
These tips are part of the extensive free resources available to restaurant entrepreneurs, made available by the restaurant management experts at Rezku. Visit our homepage to learn more about Rezku’s mission to help restaurant owners like you do more.