Being in the restaurant business can be very rewarding but can also be somewhat stressful.
Not only do you need to work long hours and secure a certain number of covers to make the figures stack up, but you may also have to contend with a lot of competition from rival restaurants.
From choosing the right premises for your restaurant business to sourcing great products at the right price, there are lots of things you need to consider. If you are thinking of opening a restaurant business, here are nine things that could help make it a big success.
1. How will you fund your venture?
Launching a restaurant business can involve lots of cash, particularly in the first instance, so you need to consider how you intend to finance it.
Many people borrow money from family and friends or remortgage their homes to pursue their dream. Others prefer to go down the route of a business loan and borrow the funds from a bank. Whatever you decide to do, it is a good idea to put together a business plan.
This will make it easier to see written evidence of whether your venture is a viable one and should minimize the risk of anyone losing money.
Many restaurant businesses fail within their first two years of trading, so you must be sensible and realistic in your approach. The last thing you want is to end up with no money and a failed business.
If you aren’t sure how to go about putting together a business plan, there are many useful tools online that can help and many professionals that, for a fee, will put one together for you.
2. Who is your target market?
Figuring out your target market is extremely important and can be established by doing some local market research.
Visiting established restaurants in the area will allow you to see how busy they are at certain times of the week, as well as being able to look at and sample their menus.
Talk to the locals and find out what they want or, if feasible to do so, run a few polls on social media to gauge if there are any gaps in the local community.
3. Making your restaurant business family-friendly
If you intend to run a family-friendly restaurant, make sure you have a good range of meals on offer to suit all age groups and tastes.
Having a dedicated kid’s menu is also a good idea. If the kids enjoy their food, the parents will be delighted and will be more likely to come back again. Many restaurants have a dedicated play area for children, so if space allows, it may be something else to consider.
4. Sourcing quality and affordable produce
To run a profitable restaurant business, you need good quality products that you can source at a competitive price.
It is a good idea to source as much as you can locally, so where possible, talk to local suppliers and try to come to a mutually suitable arrangement. Not only will it help the local economy, but can also be used as a great marketing tool.
Using the freshest of ingredients will help to make your meals delicious and will help to provide the best dining experience for customers.
5. Make sure there is adequate parking
If your restaurant business is not easily accessible by foot, make sure it has adequate parking facilities for guests. If parking is a struggle or completely non-existent, it may put people off, and they will be far more likely to go elsewhere.
If you do have parking facilities and want to step things up a gear and create a feeling of extravagance and luxury, valet service will do just that. Guests can drive straight to the door and let someone else deal with parking their vehicle.
If you do intend to offer this service, make sure staff are comfortable driving a range of vehicles and make sure your business insurance covers this. Having your parking staff dress in valet uniforms will help to add a feeling of expense and make customers feel a little bit more special.
6. Create an ambiance
A musician playing the piano, harp, or similar when diners are enjoying their meal is another lovely way to do something a bit different.
Background music is a great way to add an ambiance to a venue, so making the music live is a fabulous way to add a feeling of luxury and do something many competitors won’t have even considered.
If you prefer not to have live music, background music played through speakers at a low level can be just as effective and will help to make diners feel more relaxed.
7. Make sure your staff are well-trained
It doesn’t matter how good the food is – if the service is horrific, then it is unlikely that customers will come back and highly unlikely they will ever recommend anyone else to either.
From bar staff to waitresses, make sure your staff is polite, courteous, and friendly at all times and that they are of the mindset that the customer is always right. If, for example, a guest’s order is running late, make sure the customer is informed. If there are any complaints about the food, have them dealt with straight away, and apologize for any errors or oversights.
8. Find an ambitious and creative chef
If you dream of catering to those who want a fine dining experience, it is a good idea to find a chef who has an exquisite palette, an eye for detail, and is fabulous at conjuring up exciting new dishes for your diners to try.
Although you may be tempted to go for someone who has the most experience, it is worthwhile asking each candidate to make a dish for you to sample.
There are lots of very talented chefs who just haven’t had a break yet or haven’t been given the opportunity to show what they can do. The proof, as they say, is in the pudding, so tasting may be the best way to find the talent you are looking for.
9. Plan an effective marketing strategy
Before you even launch your restaurant business, you will want to create a bit of hype about it. Visit local businesses and let them know when you intend to open.
Give out flyers or sample menus and start creating a buzz about it. Post in local social media groups and ask friends and family to share your business page.
It is also a good idea to post photos of any internal changes you are making to your premises to keep people talking and to generate lots of local interest.
If you are able to do so, have signage erected outside your premises as soon as you can displaying some form of ‘Coming Soon’ type banner. This is even more beneficial if your restaurant is located in an area with lots of footfall or traffic.
One of the best forms of marketing any restaurant business can have is word of mouth. If a customer loves what you are doing, they will tell 10 of their friends, but if they had a bad experience, they will, most probably, tell 20. Keep the customer happy, and you could be onto a winner.
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I am Adeyemi Adetilewa, a media consultant, entrepreneur, husband, and father. Founder and Editor-In-Chief of Ideas Plus Business Magazine, online business resources for entrepreneurs. I help brands share unique and impactful stories through the use of public relations, advertising, and online marketing. My work has been featured on the Huffington Post, Thrive Global, Addicted2Success, Hackernoon, The Good Men Project, and other publications.