Over half of all adults have worked in the restaurant industry at one point in their lives, from bussing to hosting to bartending, and it’s not hard to see why. Easy to break into and lucrative for the right positions, careers in the eating industry can take you far. The ultimate goal for many is restaurant ownership. This dream is glamorous; readily available tables, delicious meals, and prestige await those who make their restaurant dreams come true. Unfortunately, the ins and outs of running a restaurant aren’t as straightforward as they seem. If you own a restaurant and want to keep your doors open for years to come, incorporate the following strategies into your business plan.
1. Nail Down Your Concept
You need more than delicious dishes to keep the customers pouring in and coming back. A clearly realized concept is an important facet of restaurant success. Crafting a memorable concept means taking a variety of aspects into consideration: restaurant décor, lighting options, service, uniforms for wait staff, and even cutlery. Be as thorough with your concept planning; the more unique your restaurant, the more apt customers are to remember and recommend it.
2. Secure Your Financing First
Opening and running a restaurant isn’t a cheap venture, and you’ll find a steady stream of capital is required to keep your establishment going. Don’t begin a restaurant without a steady source of financing in place. Most restaurants don’t actually turn a profit until a few months—or years—after opening. From lease costs to liquor licenses, vendor costs to kitchen maintenance, you’ll need to ensure you have plenty of capital to fund your venture. From angel investors to hard money lending, you have plenty of options, so be sure to do your research and find the financing option that best suits your business.
3. Iron Out Your Menu Offerings
Don’t go crazy with the menu offerings. More isn’t better, and offering too many items means sacrificing quality for quantity. The larger amount of dishes, the more ingredients required. The more ingredients you have to source, the less money you can spend on each—quality is bound to suffer. Stick to the dishes your restaurant does well and leave it at that. This allows your chef staff to produce high-quality meals each and every time, and gives you the money you need to purchase high-quality materials and ingredients.
4. Offer Alcohol
This suggestion may seem like a no-brainer, but there are plenty of restaurateurs that forgo serving alcoholic beverages. Some hope to avoid insurance issues, others are morally averse, and some have simply found the process to be far too expensive. This last reason is especially true for those looking to run a restaurant in a highly populated, competitive area. California beer and wine licenses may be harder to come by than their counterparts in a less populated state like Ohio; in some California cities, liquor licenses have been sold for more than $500,000. These costs can be intimidating, but alcohol revenue often makes up a significant portion of overall restaurant profits. Restaurant patrons want an experience, and for many that experience includes alcoholic beverages including beer, wine and spirits. If you’re struggling to find the right license in your area, use a brokerage service that will garner a deal for you.
5. Train Your Staff
Your wait staff can prove to be the make or break factor in your customer’s happiness and overall experience in your restaurant. Find and train stellar staff, and you’ll get stellar results. Restaurant patrons have come to expect world-class customer service, and arming your staff with the skills and customer service training they need to impress will serve your business aims well. Incentivize your staff with prizes, raises, and generally competitive wages, and reinforce the importance of service with a smile. If you receive repeated complaints about a particular staff member, be sure to provide the training they need and consider termination if things don’t improve.
With these strategies in mind, you’ll be well prepped to cook up success in your restaurant venture.