Are you looking to open up your own restaurant? If so, chances are you’ve asked yourself, “Where do I start?” Owning and operating a restaurant is not an easy task, with about 60% of new restaurants failing within the first three years, however, you can beat the statistics when taking the right precautions. The initial steps in securing a successful restaurant might be simpler than you think.
- Keep your concept and design simple.
Define your concept early and clearly. Every detail matters, so don’t be concerned that you have thought out too many details. There is no such thing. Once you have a clear idea of your restaurant’s concept, compare the concept to local competitors. What is going to make your restaurant stand out from others? How will you entice customers to visit your restaurant versus the hundreds of others in the area?
2. Find your niche.
Almost, if not more important than defining a clear concept, is finding the perfect location. You must be familiar with the market in which you’re entering. What do consumers in that market like? What is the average annual income, culture, etc.? This will require extensive market research, but don’t be afraid to put in the work. Become familiar with the area and market you wish to enter because your restaurant’s success depends on it.
3. Triple check your menu.
Remember that concept you just clearly defined? Stick to it. Create a menu that reflects your concept. Avoid offering your guests an overly broad array of dishes. Doing so will only confuse them. That said, it is also important not to limit your menu to just a handful of items either. Doing so will limit your guest count, so focus on a simple, balanced menu In addition, be cautious with trendy foods. They are not for everyone. Instead, create a signature dish, and promote it on the menu. If your signature dish is a hit with customers, it will aid in creating a secure reputation for your business. Conduct extensive testing to solidify procedures and recipes. Also, create a pricing structure within the consumer market’s means and your financial goals. Studying competitor’s menus may help with this task.
4. Decide the best ways to manage food cost.
Food cost, on average, represents 1/3 of a restaurant’s total expenses. While this number can be overwhelming, food cost is one of the most controllable expenses for restaurants. If a detailed system is put into place that tracks daily sales, transactions, menu items, and product mixes, your restaurant will come out ahead.
5. Don’t ignore or underestimate data.
You need to have measurable goals so you can see where you are thriving and where you fall short. There is incredible software out there that can make this process quick and easy, rather than trying to figure it out all on your own. Goodbye pen and paper, hello technology! You want to be able to get an in-depth look at your restaurant’s sales, food cost, and labor trends and easily compare it to weeks, months and eventually years past. Doing so will allow you to see, in real time, how healthy your restaurant is and point you to what changes might need to be made.
Owning and operating a restaurant is a lot of work, but with the resources and technology available today, you can get started on the right foot!