Planning to open your restaurant? Are you overwhelmed with the enormity of the process? Starting a restaurant can be very challenging, so careful planning is necessary before plunging headfirst into the business. Don’t fret; here is a simplified guide on how to open your very own restaurant step by step.
Concept and Theme: The first thing you need to consider is the core concept of the restaurant. It would be fine dining, fast food, or a café or even just desserts. You should decide on the type of customers you would be serving, whether they would be vegetarians, seafood lovers, etc. Along with designing a menu for the food you plan to serve, you also need to strategize your theme i.e. ambiance and serving style, which would be best suited for the type of food and the restaurant concept. Design a floor planning layout for your restaurant which includes boards and signage, seating, bar and dining room arrangement, kitchen outline and restrooms design.
Location: Once you plan the concept and layout, you can decide the location accordingly. Get in touch with proficient commercial real estate services. A good location will go a long way in improving your business. You need to find out how many restaurants serve the same type of food in close proximity and set up your business where there won’t be too much direct competition. The venue should be such that it would be accessible to plenty of visitors and make sure there is enough space for parking. The environment around your restaurant should be apt for your business, a place where you can expect your target customers. For e.g. a café around college will work better as compared to a high-dining restaurant. You can open your restaurant near businesses like shopping centers, amusement parks and similar places where there will be a lot of people who will be likely to visit.
So far I spoke in general about the aspect of setting up restaurant business, but let’s look at what does it take to setup as restaurant business in more business sense. For any business the first step is to prepare a business plan.
Business plan: A clearly defined business plan is very essential for your restaurant. A good business plan must contain the following:
1) Executive summary should be written describing the restaurant, its target customers and the competition along with market summary.
2) A concise description of the business, legal aspects, the restaurant owners and the goals you have set.
3) All the relevant financial information like capital for start up, income statement and the balance sheets. It is important to give the most accurate description of your finances in the plan.
4) List out the equipment in the restaurant along with the suppliers. This should also include the corresponding costs and other information about the inventory.
5) Create the menu with clear and well classified list of food items that the restaurant would serve with corresponding prices.
6) Marketing plans need to be defined and elaborated. They should be drafted on the basis of market research data, which can be collected from primary or secondary sources. Explain your plan and costs on how to promote the restaurant.
Finances: Prepare a complete budget and a financial forecast considering all fixed and variable cost factors. Cost factors are to be derived from the expenses you incur in the purchase of restaurant equipment, inventory planning, vendor services, essential utilities and furniture, restaurant staff, rent and promotional strategies. You also need to pay business rates and taxes. Start looking for ways to arrange for the required funds. If you do not have the resources yourself, you can apply for a commercial loan from banks or investors but remember to be careful about what you give up as collateral. Look at social contacts that can help you to find information about commercial loans; friends and family members are always the trusted source of information. You can partner up with someone with a similar interest or find suitable private investors. There also may be certain government programs that can help you get started. Contact other restaurant owners and local businesses for more ideas to raise finances.
Legal work: Next step is to get your business registered. Complete the paperwork which consists of licenses and permits for liquor, music and workers reimbursement. Make sure you comply with all relevant safety regulations like fire norms and environmental health services. Also remember it is very important to get your premises checked and certified by a health inspector before opening the restaurant to customers. Any local regulatory agencies can help you with these procedures if you are not able to locate the relevant authorities.
Inventory: Stock up on the supplies comprising of food, equipment and furniture before opening your business. Look into food vendors, wholesale bulk suppliers, classifieds and also sellers of second hand equipment for sourcing your requirements. Make sure your ingredients are fresh and try to obtain local produce wherever possible to reduce transportation charges. Find out if you can get free equipment or some of the equipment on loan/lease to reduce your costs. You will also need supplies for cleaning, sanitation and hygiene equipment and trash containers for the restaurant. Always remember the rule and facts of business, “Inventory management in the restaurant business is directly proportional to cost incurred from factors like transportation, space for storage and probability for wastage”. Managing inventory efficiently will help you operate you restaurant successfully.
Hiring staff: Recruitment of employees needs to be well planned as you need to have the best person for each of the positions in your restaurant. You need to hire cooks, servers, bartenders as well as management and cleaning staff. Prepare your requirements for each post clearly so that the hiring process goes smoothly and you do not face any issues later while running the business.
Marketing and Advertising: When you set out to open your new restaurant you will need to market it aggressively to get potential customers to notice your business and eventually visit. Keep a good name and theme for the restaurant along with an attractive logo which you can trademark to protect it and make it more distinctive, this is a core branding activity for any business. Look into various advertising means to reach a wider range of likely patrons. Put up ads in local newspapers, local television cable channels and on the local radio. Send press releases to media and consider giving out free samples to customers for assessment. You can promote your restaurant online on food websites and online directories. Open a website for your restaurant and add the location and menus online, also adding images and reviews to attract more people. Promote your restaurant on social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and others as well. Word of mouth also helps a lot in advancing your restaurant business.
Once your restaurant is up and running, to ensure its smooth functioning, you need to keep all the legal papers updated, track finances and find ways to optimize your processes and maximize profits. Remember, the most important factor that will bring people to your restaurant is the food so maintain good standards and ensure quality control. Take feedback from your customers as well as from your employees to give better service. Analyze your competitors’ strategies to get more ideas about how you can improve your restaurant. Starting a restaurant will be very exciting but it requires a lot of patience and hard work; if you are able to plan well and work accordingly, you will definitely find yourself on the path of success. Now that you are armed with the information, go ahead and fulfill your restaurant dreams!