Before you take the plunge into your lifelong dream of opening a restaurant, there are a few things to consider.
Whether you’re a chef or an aspiring entrepreneur, it’s helpful to know that opening a restaurant takes patience, grit, determination, organization and a stick-to-it mentality. But, there’s much more to it.
To help those of you interested in opening a restaurant, here are 10 things you need to know.
How can you plan for success if you don’t know who you’re targeting?
Before opening a restaurant, you’ll want to do your due diligence to uncover your ideal customers. A clear picture of your target market helps you plan every part of your restaurant from the menu to the décor to your location, to the staffing, and the ambiance.
Look for your target’s demographics including age, income level, and lifestyle. Plan for the type of customer you are targeting. In addition, know where they live, their hobbies, and the things that are most important to them.
Once you know these things, you can provide for their needs. This gets them in your door and to your tables.
Before you open your doors or even seek capital or investment funding, you want to create a well-thought out business plan.
Your business plan should include an analysis of your target marketing, your chosen location, the competition, your finances, an operations plan that included expected cash flow, and your marketing tactics.
You’ll use this plan as the blueprint for your restaurant that guides your team in the initial stages. You can also use it when looking for funding from potential investors.
This is where you decide how you’ll set yourself apart from the competition, and what you’ll do to attract diners.
First, ask yourself why you want to open a restaurant. Is it because you want to serve the food you like to cook, or is it because you are an entrepreneur? Perhaps you have some unique offerings that people like.
Or, you might have an interest in franchising a restaurant.
When deciding on a concept, have a clear picture of your goals.
According to CNBC, 60% of businesses fail in the first year due to one common problem.
The biggest issue for failing restaurants is their location. Quite simply, if you’re in the wrong place, no one can find you. The consequence is no diners and no revenue.
This is why choosing the absolute best spot for your restaurant is a must.
The right location can mean the difference between a highly successful restaurant and one that barely keeps its doors open for a year. When scouting a location, make sure to analyze the area including foot traffic and how easy it is to get to.
Another important thing for you to know is what your competition is doing.
In your early phases, visit your competition. Eat at their restaurants. Take notes on their service. Know how you’ll differentiate yourself from them.
Then, take it a step further. Visit their website. See how it works. Look at their imagery. Make note of whether they offer online ordering, coupons, and reservations.
Your next step is to head over to their social media pages. How active are they? Do people seem engaged?
You can also join their email list. See how many emails they send each month. Make note of the messages they’re sending.
Above all, when looking at your competition, ask yourself why customers visit their restaurant. What’s their concept? What’s their appeal?
Then, once you’ve done all of this, decide if you can do it better or in a more unique way.
When opening a restaurant, you need to know that it’s better to set your company culture from the onset than to let it evolve over time.
For example, if you want to instill a culture of customer service, this needs to come from you in the very beginning. You don’t want a few employees to dictate this for you.
You also want to decide how you’ll treat your staff. This is important because how you treat your staff trickles down into how they treat your customers. (tweet this)
Putting your customers first is vital to your success, and this often starts with your team.
You need to know that your restaurant needs licenses. These may include state and local licenses, a business license, and liquor license as well as insurance, safety management, and liquor liability.
You’ll need some time to attend to all of your licensing needs. In addition, you’ll need some money to purchase many of them.
Gone are the days of taking orders with a paper and pen. You need a point of sale system (POS) to run your restaurant properly.
The best systems take orders, track sales, manage and analyze labor, take payments and more. In some instances, you can even use these systems at your tables to make things easier on your customers and your servers.
You can also usually access all of your POS system from the cloud, making it easy to manage.
Crafting your menu takes time and forethought. If you’ve been dreaming about opening a restaurant, you may already know what you want to do.
Consider bringing in focus groups (or friends and family) to help you taste the items on your menu. They can help you ensure it’s not only tasty but well-rounded.
Finally, you need a marketing plan that includes your website, social media, email marketing, blog writing, video production, menu design, business cards, and any other print collateral you might need.
Hire someone to take care of your restaurant marketing for you so you can concentrate on running your business. (tweet this)
Opening a restaurant is a lot of fun, but it’s also a lot of work. You can make that work easier by creating a plan and a strategy and sticking to it.
Maintain patience throughout the process and know what your restaurant is just what you make it.
If you want to provide the best food and service in your area, make this your number one goal. Get your team on board, and you’ll soon find success at the end of your first year in business and many years after.
At Restaurant Engine, not only do we create great, responsive websites, but you can count on us to create a website that drives business to all your restaurants and edges you above the competition by using mobile-friendly design with a terrific user experience. Ready to take the plunge and create a website with an online menu, blog and beautiful photos? Get your free website consultation today!