Tips for Starting Up a Restaurant Business From the Ground Up
Starting up a restaurant business from the ground up is challenging and exciting. If this has been your dream for the longest time, and now you can actualize it, it’s understandable if your excitement is tempered with nerves. That happily terrified feeling you feel right now is normal. You’re onto something great. Nothing is as exciting as seeing a cherished dream unfold before your eyes, and for good fortune or luck, you’re here on time for some of the best tips for starting up a restaurant business from the ground up. Let’s delve in!
1. Choose Your Restaurant’s and Brand
Ideas exist before a concept is born, and yours has been in the works for quite some time now. It’s time to distill your dream of starting a restaurant into a concept you can turn into a brand. While choosing a concept for the brand you want your restaurant to be identified with is just the beginning, turning this concept into a brandable reality is where the rubber meets the road.
But let’s first dwell on this concept thing. At this point, run wild with your ideas and let them guide you toward the kind of restaurant you want to launch. Since you’ll be starting a restaurant business from scratch, getting all your ducks in a row, including seemingly mundane issues like a welcoming entry door is essential.
One other thing you need to thrash out is your restaurant cuisine style. You also want to decide what service style your business will be famous for. These should be aligned with your concept and, ultimately, with your brand. And why are all these things important? Well, because the restaurant business is highly competitive, you should introduce yourself to the market with a bang!
2. Decide What Your Target Demographic Will Be
When starting up a restaurant business, the first thing you should decide is who your target market is. This is critical since different demographics have distinct dining styles and will look for a restaurant that aligns with their style. Once you have a good idea of your target clientele, choose a location where they are most likely to be found, and then shape your concept to meet their needs.
But choosing a target demographic is only part of it; they must be in numbers that can sustain your business concept. Think about your target client in detail. How old are they? Where do they like to hang out, and why? For instance, there’s a demand for restaurants offering comfortable sitting areas where patrons can dine and work; in this case, you’ll need to use window coverings in some of the seating areas to reduce glare, which can be uncomfortable to the eye as one works. Is this the type of clientele you’re looking for? Another question is if you want to create a fine dining experience for your clients. These are essential questions and considerations you should put on a scale before starting a restaurant business from the ground up.
3. Create Your Menu
You have thought about this countless times. Now is the time to draft a menu before starting a restaurant business. Put on your foodie hat and think like the clients who will soon patronize your restaurant. The first thing on the menu is your desire to provide the best dining experience. However, a desire without the accompanying drinks and beverages will leave patrons with more questions than answers. So, let’s get started on that menu.
As you draft your menu, think of foods your clients will enjoy, but as you do this, remember that your restaurant’s menu will also have a bearing on your target clients, the staff you’ll need to hire, and the equipment you’ll need. For instance, you’ll need to hire a pastry chef to offer a dessert menu laden with delicate French pastries. You’ll also need matching supplies. If you plan to go big on pizza, prepare to secure experienced chefs, proofers, and mixers. Your staff must know how to whip up the perfect pizza dough.
The menu should also be tailored to your demographic. For instance, if your restaurant will be located in a busy location with several office blocks, your menu should be targeted to employees working there. Your menu should reflect their tastes and work schedules. However, if your dream has always been starting up a restaurant business for the discerning clientele with deep pockets and impressive bank balances, come up with an upscale that reflects this reality
4. Draft a Business Plan
Now that you can turn a concept into a winning brand and know what your client is like, it’s time to draft a business plan. Starting up a restaurant business without a business plan is a recipe for failure, so don’t skimp on this phase. Your business plan should start with an executive summary, which you should write last. It’s a short, ideally a pager, summary of the entire business plan.
Next is your company’s description and overview, where you should include details of what the executive summary covers. Once you have this part fleshed out, the next part of the plan is the “Concept and Menu,” which lays out the concept and menu of your restaurant. Other sections of a restaurant business plan include the management and ownership structure. Consider using visual aids, such as charts, to explain this section.
Your business should also include a section on “Employees and Staffing Needs.” This is a critical section to avoid underestimating the required number of workers. By writing this down, you’ll get a more pragmatic view of the number of employees you’ll need to run your business. A “Marketing and Competitor Analysis” section is also essential as it contains an analysis of the competition in the location you’ll be setting up your restaurant and the demographics you’ll need to target.
Other crucial aspects of a restaurant business plan are marketing strategies and advertising. Using the previous market analysis exercise, narrow your marketing strategies to those appropriate for your restaurant’s target demographics. Lastly, have a section on “Financial Projection and Summary” where you demonstrate your business’s potential in terms of profitability. Clearly outline the break-even point and sales forecast, a critical section if you want to secure funding from lenders and investors.
5. Conduct A Restaurant Location Analysis
The location you choose for your restaurant will influence its profitability. For instance, a crowded street is ideal if you’re starting up a restaurant business in an area with lots of people. On the downside, however, rent in such a location will be high.
On the other hand, you can get a more affordable rental in a not-as-much-crowded area but with poor visibility, which means you’ll shell out more to market your establishment. You also want to ensure your restaurant isn’t in a crime-infested neighborhood, as this would scare away potential clients for your business. You also don’t want to set up next to your competitors, especially if they are more established. You can rest assured customers will compare you with them, and there’s a high chance you’ll come short.
Be careful when choosing an ideal location for your business. Ensure it has an interior building products service to give your customers the best dining experience possible. In a nutshell, factors to consider include adequate space, affordability, business regulations in the area, neighborhood safety, competition, accessibility and visibility, and demographics. Sometimes, the best location for your restaurant may not tick all the boxes, but it should at least tick the demographics criteria.
The right location should also provide solar energy if your goal is to attract environment-conscious clients. This slight adjustment could bring you high-value clients keen to support an establishment that cares about the environment. Besides the location, the building where your restaurant will be hosted must have the appropriate floor covering to ensure no slip-and-fall accidents.
6. Get The Relevant Permits and Licenses
Starting up a restaurant business without the relevant licenses and permits is illegal. These include local, state, and federal permits and licenses. Ideally, enlist the assistance of a business attorney who’s versed in such matters to help take care of all legal matters. Among the critical licenses you may need are a business license, a liquor license, and a food service license.
Do your due diligence to establish which licenses you must acquire before opening your business. You’ll, for instance, need to demonstrate that there’s a property maintenance service for the building you’ll be operating from. This is important because issues such as commercial electrical services are critical in keeping a building safe.
7. Come Up With a Unique Layout for Your Restaurant
You may have ticked all the right boxes, but if you’ve not put much thought into the layout of your restaurant, you’ll be missing an opportunity to be exceptional. You’ll need to think through the layout of your restaurant carefully; for this, you’re better off working with an expert layout and space designer. Each of the spaces in your new establishment must serve a purpose.
Whether this is branding, decor, or function, getting this issue right from the get-go is essential. Among the factors to consider when designing the dining area are the seating capacity and the local regulations. You’ll also need to factor in the dining room furniture to ensure it aligns with your concept and brand.
Decor and ambiance are other crucial factors as they set the right mood and visuals for your restaurant. This can be enhanced by using special lighting and creative decor. Another issue to consider is the cleanability of the restaurant.
Wall fixtures and the floor should feature easy-to-clean-and-disinfect materials. If possible, avoid carpets in the dining room as they absorb spills and odor, as do drapes and fabric window treatments. Cleaning these regularly is expensive. Another critical area in a restaurant is the kitchen.
This is where the kitchen staff will spend most of their time. They need quality local granite countertops on which to prepare meals. The kitchen should be spacious, well-organized, and ventilated. Ensure you have an HVAC company on call should the AC break down, as the kitchen can be an extremely uncomfortable place to work in without a functional HVAC system. Other areas you should ensure are properly designed and laid out before starting up a restaurant business include the meal cooking and the service areas.
8. Hire Qualified Staff
This stage of starting up a restaurant business is crucial. This is your opportunity to establish a great work culture from the start. Have an employee benefits program that includes incentives and training, especially in customer care. Provide your workers with a great work/life balance to avoid a high staff turnover, which can be detrimental to your new business. Start by hiring the management team to help you with the hiring of other staff.
Have a list of positions necessary for your restaurant to operate daily at maximum capacity. Other decisions you’ll need to make include the days you’ll be open weekly, and the shifts needed for back-of-house and front-of-house operations. The staff you need depends on your new restaurant’s unique needs.
Among the critical staff you’ll need are the management team, bar staff, front-of-house staff, and the kitchen staff. You may also need to hire accountants, PR specialists, and marketing experts. You’ll need to adequately prepare for the interviews to stand a better chance of hiring the right staff.
9. Do Strategic Advertising
Starting up a restaurant business from the ground up will require proper, strategic marketing. A new restaurant must get the word out to attract customers. You’ve prepared well and are ready to let in the first clients. However, they’ll first need to know your existence, value proposition, and location. In a word, you need to send the word out, and the smartest ways of doing this include building a website, which must be easily navigable and designed to showcase your brand. On the website, include information about your menu, hours of operation, contacts, and other helpful information about your website.
To make it more convenient for potential clients to find you, register with TripAdvisor, OpenTable, Google My Business, and Yelp. These sites put your new restaurant in front of potential clients looking for the best places to dine and wine. As guests referred from these sites visit your business, they’ll come back and leave reviews and ratings, hopefully, great ones, bringing more exposure to your business.
Your marketing would be incomplete without social media exposure, which is largely free, but you can pay for premium service to fast-track exposure. Create Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook accounts to share nuggets, photos, and news about your new business. TikTok has also gained much traction recently, and you can use it to reach the fun-loving demographic. They could go live to talk about their experience at your new establishment.
These tips are not exhaustive, but they should set you on course for starting up a restaurant business with a high chance of success. You’ll need all the help you need, including a roofing service to ensure your structure is steady and leak-free, as this would be a nightmare if it ever happened. The trick is to anticipate the worst and prepare for it.