The number of customers who want to eat in top restaurants or take home good food keeps increasing. Coincidentally, the number of foodservice businesses has also shot up from 155,000 to 960,000 in just 40 years. These numbers are impressive, yet opening a restaurant isn’t a walk in the park. Nevertheless, for budding entrepreneurs, there is still room to get started on a food service venture today.
In this article, we’ll take you through our new restaurant opening checklist to help you get started:
- Choose your restaurant brand and concept
- Select your niche
- Build a restaurant business plan
- Choose the ideal location
- Create a menu
- Licensing and permits
- Hire employees
- Promotional and marketing campaigns
The surge in the restaurant industry is due to factors like changing lifestyles and shifting demographics. Also, a vast majority of consumers are too busy to cook or do not have the inclination to do so. For instance, most people I know want the flavor of fresh bread without having to knead the dough and bake themselves. In addition, they want the excitement of restaurant entertainment but do not have the time to plan it.
To enable those considering opening a restaurant to go off with as much help as possible, we’ve put together this post.
Hence, if you are ready to bring your dreams into reality, let’s get started.
Restaurant Opening Checklist: How to Start?
Opening a restaurant requires combining and overseeing many pieces of a giant puzzle. This makes it very difficult. Especially if you don’t have the right kind of help, this help comes in the form of the following steps to enable you to handle restaurant management like a pro.
Choosing your Restaurant Brand and Concept
The kind of concept and brand you have in mind when opening a restaurant is crucial to the survival of your business, both long term, and short term. What do these two terms - concept and brand - really mean?
The concept of your restaurant is the overall ambiance of your restaurant, the service style, and the kind of food you serve. The branding of your restaurant and it’s concept move hand in hand. Hence, they together define the identity of your restaurant. Also, they determine how your customers perceive you.
Select your Niche
You do need a business plan before opening a restaurant. However, certain things precede a business plan. One of these is your niche. Therefore, you need to decide which particular category of the foodservice industry to enter. The various types of restaurants indeed have a lot in common. Nevertheless, small differences are also very significant once you enter the business.
That’s why it’s advisable to make a firm decision based on factors you’ve carefully considered before making a commitment. Hence, you may decide to operate a coffee chart, a commercial bakery, or a fine-dining restaurant. The options are limitless. However, it comes down to your knowledge, skills, and passion. Then after you finalized the most suitable business for you, figure out which niche works for you in the marketplace.
Writing a Business Plan
Perhaps this is the most critical element you’ll need when opening a restaurant. You’ll have to call on any practical experience you have in the foodservice industry. You begin by putting together a business plan by mapping out all the vital elements of your soon-to-open restaurant on paper.
The business plan should include elements like costs to cover initial expenses like utility, electricity, restaurant entertainment, employee wages, etc. Also, your concept and branding, as earlier determined, must appear as clearly as possible in your restaurant business plan. Other topics you want to cover are detailed financial information, your pricing, menu (more on this later), market description, marketing plan, required startup capital, and many more.
The idea is put clear representation on paper of your entire battle plan and the logistics necessary to successfully execute this plan. Furthermore, an excellently written restaurant business plan will cover your existing strategy and other contingency plans you’ll use in case things don’t go as planned. You consider this due diligence necessary to give you a head start.
Choose the Ideal Location
This is one decision that is determined mainly by your budget. The amount of money you have at your disposal and how much you are ready to invest in your location will mostly decide where your business settles. On average, you can expect to pump anywhere between $1.5 million to $70,000 on your location.
On the other hand, certain types of restaurants do not require a retail location. However, if your business will depend on retail traffic, then you should consider the following factors before choosing a location:
- Accessibility to potential customers
- Restrictive ordinances
- Anticipated sales volumes
- Proximity to other businesses
- History of the location
- Future possibilities of development
- Terms of lease
- Customer-facing facilities
Always bear in mind that the kind of place you select will also take into account the amount of money you need to renovate to make for perfect restaurant seating even after paying the initial lease. Also, the location of the food production area on-site and its arrangement need critical analysis and planning. Everything has to be designed so that they are just a few steps away from your cooks. Ideally, you should use professional advice instead of relying on sheer instincts and gut feelings.
Creating a menu
Before opening a restaurant, you would have some ideas about the types of menu items you’d feature. These are decisions you have to take early because they also determine the kinds of equipment you need installed for the kitchen staff and even the kinds of cooks you need to hire.
The bottom line here is to engineer your menu such that it maximizes profits and gets paying customers coming back for more. There are top restaurant POS software systems with stellar menu management features that could be of help.
Licensing and Permits
Restaurant startup process isn’t just hard work. You also need approval from appropriate authorities. You have to obtain local permits, licenses, pass checks, and deal with several federal and state authorities. This article can’t fully cover the entire procedure. However, we do recommend you seek legal counsel during the process. It will be worthwhile and save you a lot of trouble.
This expenses, you can factor into your books when doing your restaurant accounting. Remember, every expense you make when opening a restaurant needs to be accounted for.
As you’ll find out, you can’t run a successful restaurant all by yourself. You’ll need some help. Even those operating food charts and stands by the street require the services of online virtual assistants to perform tasks like bookkeeping. Hence, you need the right staff to take care of the day to day of your establishment.
The challenges with hiring are, well, hiring. How do you know this is the right person for the job? You can find out the right restaurant interview questions you need to ask potential employees from another post on this blog.
Promotions and marketing
It does matter how simple or sophisticated your restaurant startup process and its business plan is, you still need a comprehensive marketing plan. There are different types of marketing vehicles to consider. However, you need to keep this in mind when making your decision:
- Word-of-mouth trumps several other marketing channels in use today!
- Aside from this, you also need to give your restaurant social media marketing some serious thought.
Though running a restaurant isn’t easy, opening a restaurant might be even more challenging. However, with the right resources, assistance, and tools, your dream of owning a fully functional and profitable restaurant will see the light of day.