Restaurants are one of the most comprehensive and difficult businesses to start with. However, don't let this discourage you - the following ten tips will help you reduce the risks to a minimum and lead you to a good (and hopefully successful) beginning.
- Create a Business Plan
The foundation of every successful business regardless of its type is a detailed, well-thought-out plan. A business plan is essentially a roadmap that contains the main vision, marketing strategies, financial forecasts, and other essential details. For a restaurant, the most important aspects are related to the financial sector. First, you need to calculate how much funding you'll have to put the plan into action and compare it against the initial expenses. Then, it's a matter of figuring out the projected monthly income so that you can ensure that you're able to cover all the costs that come with the restaurant.
- Develop an Idea
While this might seem simple enough, your idea has to be different from hundreds of other restaurants that you'll likely compete against. They'll already have an established customer base and you're starting from scratch. This is why it's crucial to be unique and offer something that the people can't find anywhere else, whether it's a certain dish or a specialized service - try to be as creative as possible.
- Investigate Competitors
To gain an upper hand right from the start, you'll want to form a good picture of the establishments that your restaurant is going to be competing against. One of the most popular and effective tools for competitor analysis is Spokeo. To use it, all you need is a number or an email from any of the restaurants - this info can often be found online. This requirement is because of Spokeo doubles as both a reverse phone lookup and an email search tool. The algorithms run a process similar to data mining, where they compare one piece of information with lots of others in order to find a match. This gives Spokeo the ability to provide you with the restaurant's social media profiles, the owner's personal info, and other useful data.
- Attract Investors
If the startup costs are too much for you to handle, getting people to invest in your restaurant is a good strategy. To spike the potential investors' interest, it's important to show them that you're ambitious, knowledgable, and determined to make your restaurant work. This is also where a good business plan can make all the difference. From it, they can analyze your approach and conclude whether your idea is actually worth the effort.
- Find a Location
When you're considering a location, the two most important factors are nearby competitors and traffic. If there are a lot of similar restaurants in close proximity, you'll have a hard time getting anyone interested - especially if these restaurants have a lot of regulars. On the other hand, it's unlikely that you'll be able to find a location without any competition nearby that also has a lot of traffic. If you're certain about your marketing strategy, you can take a risk with a more competitive location. Otherwise, try to choose the best of both worlds.
- Obtain a Business License
Depending on your location, you need quite a few certifications to get started - business, food service, liquor license, food handler's permit, etc. In total, you're looking at a few thousand dollars worth of licensing. Fortunately, most of them aren't especially difficult to acquire. All you have to do is find a local department in your city, start the procedure, and they'll explain the rest of the process. Also, the government's website usually has some basic steps that can give you an overview of what to expect.
- Supply the Restaurant
From tables, chairs, and other furniture to ovens, food processors, and other kitchen-related things, there's a lot to purchase right from the beginning. If you have a tight budget, there's no shame in buying second-hand tables and chairs since they can save you a lot of money. Unfortunately, it also means you're taking a risk since they come with no warranty and could cost you more in the long run. For the cooking utilities, only stick to brand new equipment if you want to avoid a lot of potential headaches.
- Hire Employees
Managers, cashiers, servers, cooks - a restaurant requires quite a large workforce of people of various skills. Your best bet is to put an advert online for all the open positions and interview those with the best qualifications. If your menu has a lot of complex dishes, you should consider how many certificates each of the candidates has, as well as their prior work experience.
- Focus On Online Advertisement
In order to be able to make a profit, you need to raise interest in people so that they come and visit the restaurant. One of the most popular ways is via the Internet, by making your own website, advertising on social media, targeting a specific audience, and so on. While you can still use some old-school methods as well (such as adverts in newspapers), the newer methods are much more reliable and cost-efficient. If you're not sure where to start, check some similar businesses to get an idea.
- Quality-of-life Improvements
How can you make people's visit to the restaurant as enjoyable as possible? To start, you can use restaurant reservation software like this one to make this often tedious process much easier. With it, guests can simply reserve a spot through an online form without having to call or come in person. Some other quality-of-life improvements include various payment methods (PayPal, NFC, mobile payment), deliveries, tablet ordering system, and others.
Maguire Haigh is a marketing manager for Spokeo. He is interested in the latest technology trends, marketing strategies and business development. He also prefers traveling, exploring the world and meeting new people. Maguire has great experience in creating and editing articles on different topics.