You have dreamed about it for years, and now you’re ready to make it a reality…but what should be at the top of your list when you plan to open your first restaurant? There are many factors to consider, but these are among the most important to your long-term success!
1. Location, location, location. The importance of a restaurant’s location cannot be overemphasized. Things to consider include: visibility from the road; available parking spaces; area crime rate; and accessibility to major roadways. Think about your target market: is your proposed location close to where that market lives and/or works? Look at the other restaurants in the area: are they successful or boarded up? Is there an oversaturation of other restaurants similar to your concept?
2. Write a great business plan. This may be the most critical element of all. This roadmap should include an explanation of your concept, a description of your hoped-for population base, a proposed menu with prices, financial information, your advertising and marketing plans, as well as your plans for hiring, training, and retaining employees. For your financials, always overestimate the amount of capital you’ll need. You will need to factor in equipment needs, marketing, and operating capital. Do a thorough examination of your own assets, approach family and friends for investment potential, consider a Kickstarter campaign, seek out potential business partners, and take advantage of government programs designed to support small businesses.
3. Put excellent organization and system operations in place from the start. How will your chef run the kitchen? How will your head server train the other servers? Who is responsible for front of the house, and how will that be run? Who will arrange and reset tables, and how will that occur? Who will be responsible for putting out the inevitable (metaphorical) fires? How will you do payroll, and how will tips be accounted for? You should ask and answer all of these questions at the beginning of your process.
4. Hire great employees. First, hire an excellent chef. That one is obvious. Equally important, though, is to hire a great bartender. Someone who knows how to pour drinks as well as serve the customers. Hire a top shelf manager, a superb wait staff (do background checks!), and an excellent host/hostess. Good people make for a great restaurant experience for the customer.
More info on hiring employees can be found HERE
5. Apply for a liquor license EARLY. In some areas, this process can take weeks or months. Don’t put yourself in the position of opening a restaurant before you can serve drinks!
6. Get the word out. At the top of your marketing list should be the design and implementation of a great website . Then, create a Facebook page, Instagram account, and Twitter account. Start posting! Consider a Groupon or Living Social deal to get people in the door. Create and hand out inexpensive flyers. Buy ads on local radio stations and podcasts. Post beautiful pictures of your interior and your food on every social media outlet you are using. Get out there and network!
Starting a restaurant can be daunting, but you can do it if you plan ahead! Start with these six items and you’ll be off and running as you make your dream a reality.