For many people that have grown up surrounded by or in the hospitality industry, opening a restaurant has developed into a lifelong dream. Suppose that you now have the monetary means of achieving this dream. In this case, you'll surely be planning how to make your dream a successful reality, which goes beyond the food, an element that many budding restaurateurs tend to focus on and recognizes the many other components that go into the production of a prospering restaurant. As a restaurant owner, you'll need to identify gaps in the food market of your desired location or concoct a plan on how your restaurant can deliver an existing cuisine better so that your dining room remains filled and your competitors less so.
Many aspects of running an eatery are self-explanatory; however, some are less so and can only be learned through experiencing the trade first-hand and studying through trial and error. From devising a restaurant business plan and working out your finances to creating an all-encompassing menu, there are many factors for a novice restaurant owner to consider constructing a successful restaurant. In this article, we've outlined several tips on how to run a successful restaurant so that you can step up to the plate and provide the best service possible for your future clientele.
Outline Your Concept And Create A Business Plan
Like any other business venture, for your restaurant to be successful, you must first outline the concept of your proposed eatery and create a restaurant business plan that reflects this. For your restaurant to be successful, it'll have to be memorable or possess certain qualities that will make patrons want to return again and again. As we briefly mentioned in our introduction, identifying gaps in the food market will help you with this process; for instance, you could opt for a fusion restaurant or an eatery that focuses on a particular ethnic cuisine.
Regardless of what decision you choose, your business plan and the restaurant itself must reflect this choice; otherwise, it could confuse diners and won't help convey your artistic intentions. For instance, as evident as it may seem, you wouldn't find sophisticated table decorations at a fast-food restaurant or plastic wine glasses in a premium eatery. Every choice you make, no matter how minor, must be reflected in your restaurant business plan; if by any chance you need assistance with devising this, you could utilize the helpful online resources from Yelp. Their website is full of interesting articles aimed at budding and seasoned restaurateurs, intending to help them with hard decisions and provide valuable insight into the industry.
Understanding Your Market And Competitors
Another aspect to consider when running a successful restaurant is understanding your market and the competition you'll face upon entry into the industry. As obvious as it may seem, there's no point opening a stylized Italian quick-service restaurant if the location in which you're planning to open your eatery already has several establishments like your concept. So, understanding the market of your chosen location is crucial, and conducting both quantitative and qualitative research carefully so that you can ascertain whether there is a gap in the market and an appropriate target audience for your proposal to succeed.
You could conduct this research by interviewing people, conducting archival research, collecting information about your chosen location and population, and even handing out polls or surveys. Alternatively, you could also consider befriending a local estate agent or lending agency that will supply you with a variety of information about the location of your restaurant, which may help you further.
On the other hand, you'll also need to assess your competitors and draw comparisons between your establishment and theirs to see if your business would suit the target market or if you can address any needs in the market that your competitors are missing. Take into consideration their prices, their food offering, if they offer any other services such as takeout, delivery via a food delivery app or an online store, etc. We also suggest visiting as many competing restaurants as possible, so that you can experience them first-hand and see how their dining experience compares to yours and the service, food, prices etc. Doing so will help you distinguish whether you should be charging more or less for your services and give you an advantage when creating an establishment that will stand out from the competition.
Consistency Is Key
Successful restaurants rely on cash flow and the new or existing patrons that provide this for the establishment. The key to this success is consistency so that the restaurant maintains the level of loyalty between its customers, the frequency of their visits and optimizing your profits. When customers visit a restaurant that they've had a positive experience at previously, they expect the same amount of consistency and for the service or dishes to have the same impact they did when they last visited. Inconsistency causes guests to revise their opinion of the business, leading to more significant problems such as bad reviews and a decrease in business.
Furthermore, your restaurant must maintain consistency with your food, atmosphere and service, but you also need to maintain this level of consistency with your employees. To fight against inconsistency, your restaurant needs to encompass all aspects of training, rewards, rules, and disciplinaries to help manage your employees' expectations and set boundaries so that mistakes are minimized. Consistency builds the trust between the restaurant, its staff and returning customers and shows everyone that there is an understanding of trust which will hopefully minimize bad experiences or any surprises and keep customers returning.
Access Your Finances All Steps Of The Way
When purchasing a restaurant and preparing it for opening day, many newcomers to the food industry focus entirely on how much money they need to open their establishment and don't spare a thought on how to finance the premises after. Collecting your start-up funds is only part of the journey; after opening day, you'll have to consider operational costs, monthly rent payments (if applicable), the cost of keeping your family comfortable, and stock – failure to do so could lead to disastrous consequences, and worst-case scenario, your dreams of running a restaurant might not be a reality for long.
One of the most common reasons that restaurants fail is due to not enough operating capital, as many new restaurant owners fail to consider the facilities' ongoing cash needs while the business is freshly-opened and gaining popularity. Unfortunately, you won't see a return on your investments in your new restaurant until the business has grown enough in popularity to become profitable, which is an object that many restauranteurs struggle to overcome. So, making monetary considerations for this 'make or break' period is crucial to ensure your restaurant's success.
You can avoid making these mistakes by enlisting the help of a financial advisor, who will be able to give you informed advice on your finances and what you can realistically achieve. Or you could consider taking out a loan to keep you afloat for the first few months of business; although you may not want to rely on a loan, it may be worthwhile to consider since new restaurant owners very rarely have the finances to afford all costs upfront.