How to Open a Successful Restaurant Business? Top 5 Steps
By Natasha, Founder of Blue Feather Designs
So you have a decided to follow your dream and open your first restaurant? AMAZING! The hardest step in starting your own business is taking the first step in making the decision (trust me I know!) but now you are faced with the overwhelm of how to go about it all. Luckily for you I have broken down the key steps for you here to make it that much easier!
Define your brand
I have written about branding many times before, I honestly cannot stress enough how important this step is. Please be clear that I am not talking about the name or logo of your restaurant. Defining your brand is much more than that.
Ask yourself these questions; “What are my ethos? How will this reflect in my restaurant? What will make this restaurant stand out from the crowd?” The best way to start thinking about this is to scribble some notes about your favourite restaurants. What makes you go back again and again? Can you pick out any features that you love in particular?
The idea here is to create a mind map of all the aspects that your brand will need to incorporate. Taking this to a brand designer will help to create clarity for your vision and give you clear direction. Once you have a killer brand, this will help you define every other area of the business; the name, the logo, the menu, the decor, the atmosphere and the “extras” more on that later!
Find a great chef
I see a lot of people try to finalise their menus without having so much as interviewed their chef. Let me tell you why this is opposite of what you should be doing….unless you will be the owner and chef, you won’t be doing the cooking! The menu needs to be the brainchild of the owner and chef combined, incorporating the brand ethos and vision from the owner with the skill set of the chef.
I cannot tell you how many restaurants I have seen fail as this relationship is non existent. Working with a chef that understands your vision is fundamental to a successful business. Just be careful that this is a balanced relationship though it is easy for one or the other to go on a tangent following their own direction that they forget to work together. While you interview for a chef, explain your vision, ask for their ideas on what they feel would work with this. Most importantly taste items that will actually be on your menu. No point in tasting fish and chips if you want to have an authentic saag aloo!
Your part of this relationship is to turn the chefs ideas into menu items that will best suit your market within the profit margins you require. This successful collaboration will form a menu that you will both be on board with. Chef will go ahead and create the culinary delights while you educate the waiting staff on the intricacies of the food and how to sell this to your customers! On that point always make sure your waiting staff have tried the food so they can help your clientele make those difficult decisions!
Location, Location, Location!
This is probably the hardest part for any new restaurant owner. Now you have a great product, it is important to get the right place. There is too much for me to go into detail about the science behind choosing the correct location but consider the following important factors:
Cost – an obvious one but think about ongoing costs as well as the cost of the premises, high rent and rates are the biggest reasons many new restaurants fail. In addition to the fixed overheads think about staffing costs, different locations demand different rates for example wages in the City will be much higher than those in more rural areas. Similarly costs in Mayfair will be vastly different to costs in Mile End!
Foot traffic – with all the advertising in the world it goes without saying that your chances of success in high traffic areas will be much greater than those without.
Demographics – your brand strategy will define your target market. Choose locations that will appeal to them! Warning this may mean re-considering your costs!
Competition – Healthy competition will actually be beneficial to your business, it means more foot traffic (see above). But too much will mean that you spend your entire being fighting for custom and let me tell you, its exhausting and de motivating. Think about the returns and if it is really worth it!
Find the “Extra” special
The market today is tough, really tough…but once you crack this I can guarantee that your restaurant will be a success. The key to success is simple, get customers to love you so much they want to come back and want to tell the world to do the same. So what will make this happen I hear you scream? Well good food and great service goes without saying doesn’t it? Remember those “extras” I was talking about earlier? Well this is the magic ingredient to success.
You only need to look at the dire state of the high street to know that it becoming more and more difficult to survive. So I want you to focus on the ones that have survived…what is their secret? The answer is quite simply giving the customers an “experience” that they need. Twenty or so years ago this experience meant convenience and fast food chains have thrived since. Then came the need for healthy food and we are still seeing more and more healthy, organic, vegan places pop up and they will continue to do well.
However consider the cause of these changes, the increase in online shopping has made life easier for consumers in every way, Uber Eats and Just Eat are hugely successful for this reason. People are choosing the comfort of their homes with friends and family or a good film on Netflix over going out to eat. Your job is this, create an experience that pulls them in and makes them WANT to leave their homes. This is not easy of course, the food will need to be amazing, the service second to none and these “extras” extra special.
Design For your customer
This is of course my favourite part! However extravagant or however simple you decide to treat your decor. There are some important design factors you need to ensure you consider whether or not you decide to hire a designer to help you.
Make sure your design reflects your brand. If you want to read more about incorporating your brand into your interiors read here.
The flow – ensure there is adequate space between tables. Too much you will be sacrificing revenues, too little and you compromise on comfort. The proportion of your income space compared to your non income space.
Obviously the more covers you have the higher the revenue potential, but think about your non income areas too. The kitchen space needs to be adequate to pass building regulations and to accommodate the demand of the restaurant. The toilets are actually considered one of the prime reasons people choose to revisit an establishment! What about communal areas and smoking areas? Space planning here is vital in order to make the most of the area you have.
There you have it, the 5 steps to ensure you succeed in your new restaurant venture. If you are going through the process I hope this is of help to you. If you need some help to ensure you create a great experience for your clients. Hit the contact button below and let’s make it happen!
About The Author: Natasha, a London based Restaurant Designer. LEARN MORE HERE.