If you have a love for food, possess sufficient capital to start a restaurant, and are looking for some direction and best practices to help you get started on this new venture, you are in the right place.
While the restaurant economy is generally booming, it is important to keep in mind that around 60% of new restaurants fail within the first year. There are multiple reasons for this, ranging from location and customer service to the quality of the food. It is important, therefore, to have a good working knowledge regarding the top tips to launch a successful restaurant.
Read on to learn how to start a restaurant by following four simple steps to set your restaurant business up for long-term growth and success.
Write A Business Plan
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As a potential restaurant owner, the first thing you want to do is articulate your business proposition, vision, and all the details in a formally written document which is commonly referred to as a business plan.
A business plan can help give you clarity regarding your restaurant’s marketing, financial, and operational needs. Your business plan will most likely have the following contents.
- An executive summary outlining the mission statement and the general structure of your restaurant.
- Company overview including the basic concept of your restaurant and its menu offerings.
- Management and operational plan and employee structure and function, and the restaurant’s day-to-day operations.
- The market analysis includes a competitor analysis of similar restaurants.
- Marketing plan highlighting your comprehensive promotion and advertising strategy.
- Financial plans and projections indicate the potential cost, revenue, and profit of your restaurants, as well as any funding requests.
Get Insurance, Licenses, And Permits
Once you have a clear idea of your restaurant business in terms of what is required, the next critical step is keeping your business safe by getting restaurant insurance. This will protect you and your employees from potential risks such as accidents, injuries, and any lawsuits.
Popular restaurant insurance coverage includes general liability, commercial auto, workers’ compensation, commercial property, and liquor liability.
In addition, you should also get the necessary licenses and permits such as a business license, Employer Identification Number (EIN), food services license, liquor license, valet parking permit, live entertainment music license, building health permit, and dumpster placement permit. Generally, the state, county, or city you operate in will be responsible for issuing these restaurant and food service licenses and permits. Importantly, keep in mind to regularly update your insurance, licenses, and permits.
Offer Something Unique
When thinking about designing your menu and conceptualizing a concept for your restaurant, it is important to differentiate your brand and your offerings from competitors.
Consider developing a menu that has a description of each item, and try catering to all sorts of people by offering gluten-free, vegetarian, vegan, kosher, and other options. Secondly, try focusing your menu on a handful of items for which you can get the most qualified and experienced chefs so that your restaurant develops a niche product offering.
Moreover, the ambiance and atmosphere of your restaurant are key. Pick a theme and stay consistent by building your menu and decor around that idea. For instance, if you decide to go with an industrial-style restaurant, consider having distressed walls, exposed brick, concrete, or pipe, vintage crockery and upholstery, and neutral earth tones.
Make A Marketing Plan
The success of any business greatly depends on its marketing strategy. Similarly, as a restaurant owner, you need to carefully think about all the avenues you can exploit to promote your business.
Start by building a social media presence, particularly on Facebook and Instagram, and develop a professional-looking website that contains all information about your menu, location, and contact details.
Next, make sure your digital marketing efforts follow best practices such as SEO and website optimization. Also, create a Google My Business, OpenTable, and Yelp profile and use Google Ads and paid ads to further boost your online presence. This will allow your restaurant to climb up on search engine rankings and increase traffic on your digital pages.
Furthermore, consider a soft opening to build hype and gauge the demand and interest for your restaurant. This is a great way to gain real-life insights regarding your menu as well as any potential mistakes you might be making.
Starting a restaurant is an exciting journey that is sure to have its ups and downs. However, with the right kind of guidance and a strategic plan, you can avoid common mistakes and pitfalls. So whenever you feel stuck, just remember to return to this guide and use it as a checklist to take your restaurant business to the next level.