For new restaurant owners, opening one is not an easy task. You have to come up with both a strategic business plan and an effective marketing plan, find the perfect site for your restaurant, and then you need to open on time while managing all of the challenges that come with running this type of food service business.
That's why we created this checklist for opening your restaurant: a survival guide that will help you get from clueless to confident by your opening date!
Why start your own restaurant business?
Having a restaurant is not about the money, it's all about living your dream! Opening your own business will give you the chance to make your ideas happen, on your terms and timing. The restaurant industry is still recovering and there are great opportunities to open a successful business. There are many reasons to start, but most importantly is that you do it out of a passion for good food and seeing smiles across your future employees' and your customers' faces.
It's possible for restaurants with limited budgets or experience to find success in this industry. It doesn't have to be too difficult or expensive for you to open up that little spot in town with amazing food and great service. However, even money can't solve everything, because proper restaurant planning is what leads you to your goal.
The checklist of successful restaurants will help you prepare for the day that has come, but it's never too early (or late) to start planning! Take time beforehand to explore ways this type of project may be connected with what you're currently doing.
The investment in starting a restaurant
If you're on the fence about starting a new restaurant business, the startup costs are probably one of your most pressing concerns. So, how much does it cost to start a restaurant and what are the associated expenses?
There is no easy answer to this question, as it depends on several factors such as the type of restaurant you want to open, its location, and how big it will be. Do you plan to offer in-restaurant dining or exclusively takeout and delivery services?
Identifying these aspects and calculating the associated expenses of establishing and running a restaurant can assist you in determining how to boost sales.
Based on estimates:
- If you want to have a small restaurant/bakery, then your startup costs budget will be around $30,000.
- A larger restaurant with a bar might cost about $200,000 - 300,000.
- An upscale restaurant could cost as much as $500K or more for the startup costs
Not every restaurant needs millions to start and you don't have to start with an expensive location, but be prepared for unforeseen costs such as food, security systems, equipment financing, furniture replacements, and more. With equipment financing, your monthly payments are usually secured by a fixed interest rate that doesn't change over the course of the loan. This makes budgeting easier and can help you avoid payment shocks down the road.
Do not forget about taxes (Income Tax, GST/HST, PST, CPP, and EI). Everyone has to pay these amounts, including the employer! The costs will depend on how many employees you have working in your restaurant. Remember that if you hire people to work for tips, then you are only responsible for paying the minimum wage.
However, investing your time and money in restaurant management will only bring you more profit in the long term. If you need more information about cutting down on your operating costs, properly managing orders and inventory, food and beverage costing, and other useful money-saving tips, we have other blog posts you may be interested in!
As for now, we will give you the checklist you've been waiting for...
Checklist: How to open a restaurant
Make a business plan and define your restaurant concept
The answer to how to open a restaurant and run one requires a lot of planning and consideration. To assure a restaurant's success it begins with developing a solid business plan. You need to determine what your restaurant concept is, the start-up costs, and how it will be profitable.
Your restaurant business plan is more than just a document for potential partners- it's a guidebook of your business model that will help you stay on track once your restaurant gets going. Outline the progression and development of your concept, so you're ready to take things to the next level. This may seem difficult, but with proper market research and planning, you can make it happen.
A restaurant business plan includes the following key elements.
- Executive summary
- Company Overview
- Market plan analysis
- Restaurant Design
- Market Overview
- External help
- Financial Analysis
Pick a niche for your restaurant
With so much competition in the restaurant industry, it's essential to create a business plan to identify a niche market and focus on that.
A niche refers to a specialized market segment for particular types of food or ideas. Niche restaurants are the most profitable because they have less competition and are in high demand. Your niche is what makes you unique and sets you apart from others who may offer similar products or services.
So, how do you go about choosing one? To establish what kind of restaurant you should open, first consider your local market by asking the following questions:
- Examine the market to discover what kinds of restaurants already exist there.
- Is there a specific type of restaurant missing that consumers want?
- What type of restaurant service style do you think would be most popular with your target customers?
- What technology are you considering implementing?
Keep in mind what else is available to potential customers and how your restaurant can stand out from the rest. A detailed market plan will help you flesh out your idea for a niche restaurant and service concept. Furthermore, research different types of ordering technology that would make their experience more enjoyable.
Types of restaurant services:
- Quick-service restaurants
- Full-service restaurants
- Fast-food restaurants
- Food truck restaurants
Choose a name for your restaurant
Naming a restaurant can be one of the most difficult parts of getting the restaurant established. You want a name that has some meaning, is easy to pronounce and spell and differentiates from other restaurants in its category or area.
Be sure not to use an existing trademark as it will make it challenging to market the restaurant. Choose to brand that you think will withstand the test of time, and one that you can easily design your restaurant around in terms of ambiance, style, and cultural preferences.
You can also create a clever play on words with your name or use a slogan that embodies what customers will experience when they come in for dinner!
Secure funding for your newly opened restaurant
A very common way for restauranteurs and small businesses for opening a restaurant and to find funding to raise money is through tips from family and friends. It is always a good idea to avoid asking for too many tips from one person because you want to make sure that the fund you are given can be repaid in a timely fashion.
If tips aren't a viable option, it's important to have an idea of what your budget looks like before looking into a business loan. You don't want to overspend by investing too much money in a restaurant and then not having enough funds left over for operating costs.
The next step in the process of finding restaurant funding is figuring out where you will get your money from. Whether it be tips or a small business loan, these decisions are important because they will affect the profitability of your restaurant concept and business as a whole.
Meet with Investors
Present your executive summary of your restaurant business plan when seeking investors and be sure to meet with individuals or a market group who share your vision. A strong executive summary is essential not only for starting a business but also for getting funding for your new restaurant. Potential investors will read the executive summary first, so it is crucial to make a good impression. Talk to investors and ask them what they are looking for in a new restaurant business line. This will make it easier for food service businesses to find the right people to work with. This way, you can get the business loan you need while fulfilling both of your goals.
The best way to find investors is to go to various networking events, like Chamber of Commerce meetings for your local area. You can also put an advertisement in the newspaper or on social media stating that you are looking for investors. Make sure to offer enough detailed financial information and business plan about your restaurant without giving away any trade secrets that might make people hesitate from investing.
Whether you are planning to apply for a bank loan or meet with a small business bureau, or private investors, bring all your paperwork neatly organized, in folders and portfolios for investors to keep.
If you are going to be investing your own money in this kind of business line, find out how much it will cost up-front for all the necessary permits and renovations.
To put down a payment on the restaurant business, you'll want to look into the following:
- Figure out what your budget should be. You can get tips from family and friends about how much they might be willing to invest in your idea.
- Once you have that number, make sure it's within reach of numbers for loans.
- Think about where your money is going to come from and what kind of restaurant you want to open up there are many factors that go into the price!
- If all looks good with your finances then decide when you will put down the deposit or withdraw funds for opening day.
Restaurant Startup Loans
Another option to obtain restaurant funding is through a small business loan, which can be an excellent option for opening a new restaurant. A small business loan is readily available from a variety of regional and national lenders. The majority of banks collaborate with the US Small Business Administration to provide small business loans (SBA).
Before you apply for a startup loan for a new restaurant, make sure that you have a comprehensive restaurant business plan. In addition to this document, you will likely need the following:
- Loan application
- Personal background and financial statement
- Profit and Loss Statement
- Projected Financial Statements
- Ownership and affiliation documents
- Business certificate/license
- Loan application history
- Income tax returns
- Company Overview
Finding the Ideal Location: Buy or Lease a Commercial Space
Choose the right location
The most important thing to consider when looking to open a restaurant is the location. If there are any preconceived notions about where to locate your restaurant because of busy roads or public events nearby, it might not be best for you.
If you plan to open a restaurant, a location or area that has high foot traffic, plenty of parking, or even access to public transportation to find more potential customers is a perfect spot. Of course, your restaurant should be in an area where your food attracts the customers you want and offers food that will tempt them to revisit.
Consider the restaurant's size
Size matters when it comes to choosing a restaurant space. If you want high volume, then choose the bigger size option because this will allow for more seating in your dining room and will make your customers feel more comfortable and welcomed.
Be sure the property you select can accommodate all needs for your full-service restaurant such as kitchen layout, storage space, office space (if necessary), food preparation space, seating space, restrooms, decoration space, and more. When stocking new commercial kitchens, it is important to purchase commercial-grade appliances and dishes because kitchen equipment quality is crucial for the cooking process, and your executive chef and other restaurant workers will have an easier time getting the job done. Not only are these items more durable than their home counterparts, but some also have warranties.
Building/Buying or Renting?
When opening a restaurant, you need to decide if you are going for fast-food, quick-service restaurants, casual dining, food truck, or fine-dining restaurant. These options will help determine your restaurant's appearance and menu offerings. This may also affect the design and equipment needed as well as how much time customers need in order to move through the restaurant.
If you're going to a fast-food restaurant, then it's more likely that customers will want to eat and leave quickly. In contrast, casual dining restaurants are designed to be more welcoming with slower service and comfortable seating arrangements in the dining room.
Before deciding on a new business you need to consider whether or not to buy your building, and figure out if renting is cheaper and less risky than buying.
If you do not have enough money to purchase your building, consider if you want an amortized mortgage with a fixed interest rate. In this case, the monthly loan payment is usually lower than buying and then paying off in full.
As for tips on how long to stay at one location before relocating: rent first
What about floor plans?
Once you have found a location, the next step will be to get all of your floor plan requirements together and ask these questions:
- How many square feet are available for lease?
- How much is the monthly rent? Does it include utilities?
- How about parking spaces or storage spaces?
- Do you have to rent any furniture or equipment?
- How much will renovations cost and when will they be done?
- When can you start the lease?
- Do you need time to get things in order before opening?
Estimate your costs based on these factors, and make sure to leave a little room in your budget for the unexpected.
The legal structure for new restaurants
Once you've decided on the perfect location for your restaurant, it's time to start thinking about which legal structure will work best for you.
Despite the numerous options provided, business owners cannot simply choose one and stick with it.
When starting a restaurant, you want to consider the best type of business for its size and if it offers any legal advantages. For example, if you get sued, will you lose your restaurant or just your personal assets? Also, look into how flexible the taxes are.
For these situations, three business structures make the most sense:
- An individual running the show solo (Sole Proprietorship)
- two or more partners (Partnership); and
- entrepreneurs ready to open their own small multiunit chain (Limited Liability Company (LLC)
Obtain permits, licenses, and insurance for your restaurant
In order to open a restaurant, it is important that you get all the details, especially the necessary permits and licenses. These are usually acquired through researching who regulates a certain type of business in your area (usually, but not always, this will be the local government).
To get the necessary permits and licenses, you'll need to research who regulates a specific type of business in your region. Most regions have some form of government that handles these types of things. For example, if you're opening a restaurant in Washington D.C., you would want to contact the Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration (ABRA).
A business license is required to operate any sort of company, regardless of where you reside. It is an important document that grants you the right to operate a restaurant. The process of obtaining a business license varies by country or state.
The United States requires that your restaurant's license be based on its address. You'll need to visit your city or county's license center and register for a business license at the state level if you're planning on opening a new restaurant. To learn more about obtaining this license in your state, go to the US Small Business Administration (SBA) website.
The price of getting a restaurant business license will differ by province or city and state, though it is generally around USD$50. Other fees connected with acquiring your company charter may range from as little as USD$25 to $7,000.
Employee Identification Number (EIN)
All businesses in the U.S. and Canada need to acquire an Employer Identification Number (EIN), similar to a business license. Your tax ID is a nine-digit number that will help you complete your taxes correctly.
Since the IRS only issues one EIN per day, it's best to apply for yours as soon as possible so you don't have to wait.
Obtaining an operating license is more than just filling out paperwork- there need to be inspections done on the restaurant to make sure it is up to code, and inspections are done on the food by a health department. You'll want to make sure that the kitchen has all the necessary restaurant equipment and facilities for cooking, storing, and serving food. The building should also be safe for customers, with fire suppression measures in place and established health codes.
To verify that you are in compliance with all restaurant food safety regulations, the health department will come to your business in person. The local health department will continue to inspect your restaurant on a regular basis once you acquire your food service license. If any of their inspections result in an infraction, you risk having your food service license revoked; as a result, it's critical that you're prepared at all times.
The last thing you want when opening a restaurant is a shutdown because of insufficient procedures or improperly maintained equipment. Restaurant costs only increase as a result, since violations can cost you long-term reputation damages and future success.
While your food service license is great, it does not extend to any alcoholic beverages you would like to serve in your restaurant. In order to legally cater to guests wanting alcohol at your establishment, you need a specific liquor license.
The Alcohol Beverage Control (ABC) Board is in charge of regulating the sale of alcohol. You'll want to start the process of obtaining a liquor license by contacting them to learn your state's laws and processes.
To open a business selling alcohol in Canada, you must first obtain a license from your province's Alcohol and Gaming Commission. You can apply for a license on their website. In addition to filling out forms and paying fees, you may also need to meet local requirements for health and safety.
Note: It can take several weeks for a liquor license to be approved, depending on your restaurant's location.
Comply with your Local Health Regulations
In addition to getting an operating license, you will need a food handler's card. A Food Handlers Permit (also known as an Employee Health Permit) is a permit that verifies that each of your workers has completed a food safety certification. This permit ensures your restaurant meets significant regulations for food sanitation, storage, protection, and preparation. This is important because your employees are the ones handling raw meat and produce, so it makes sense that they know how to handle food safely.
Insurance is also required for the restaurant business. You will need to research what insurance you'll need based on its coverage, which is usually a combination of general liability and property damage for different types of businesses in your region.
You will also need to obtain liability insurance in order to operate your restaurant. It's necessary to find out which type of insurance you're going to need before you open up. And then there's the issue of finding it in the first place! A possible solution is starting a conversation with an insurance agent who is aware of the restaurant industry.
An important thing to keep in mind once you are insured is that you'll have ceded control over everything that goes into your restaurant- meaning, if there's a health code violation and some food has to be thrown away due to contamination, your insurance will cover it.
Certificate of Occupancy
Your local building or zoning department in your city will issue you a certificate of occupancy as soon as your commercial space has passed its final construction inspection. This certificate of occupancy establishes that your structure has been built and maintained in accordance with the appropriate laws and regulations.
The procedure for obtaining a certificate of occupancy varies by jurisdiction and building type. A certificate of occupancy is required for your restaurant's structure to obtain a certificate of occupancy. Plumbing, electrical, fire safety, and overall building inspections are all examples of this.
The first step to getting your certificate of occupancy is contacting your local government building department.
You need a sign permit from your city government before you put up any type of signage to promote your business. Each city has its own requirements for appropriate size, position, and lighting. It's a good idea to obtain written consent from your landlord in addition to the official sign permit if you're renting or leasing your restaurant space rather than buying it completely.
Some licenses to consider:
To open a restaurant, you need to acquire other certificates and licenses such as:
- Live entertainment and music license
- Resale permit
- Sales tax license
- Dumpster placement permit
- Seller’s Permit
- Valet parking permit
- Foodtruck permit (if applicable)
Set up a local and state tax account for your restaurant
An Account Identification Number (Sales Tax ID Number) or seller's permit is a state-assigned identification number for businesses. A company may use the ID number to collect the required taxes and pay state sales taxes. Sales tax is typically charged on retail purchases, leases, rentals of most goods, and some services. There are an estimated 11,000 sales tax jurisdictions in the United States, and each has its own set of rules. Only a few states do not collect a sales tax (AK, DE, MT, NH, OR).
Payroll taxes are the state and federal taxes that a business is required to withhold and/or pay on behalf of employees. To set up payroll tax accounts, businesses usually have to register for a state withholding tax account and state unemployment tax account (SUTA). Generally, if a company hires an employee who lives in another state, the business must set up payroll in that employee's home state. Sometimes businesses must also set up payroll when they only have employees working remotely in another state-even if those workers don't live there.
If your business operates within a city or county, you may need to obtain a local business tax certificate, which is sometimes called a local business license. This document allows authorities to levy sales and use taxes. However, requirements for these certificates vary between locations, so make sure to research the laws in your area before moving forward with your business.
Set up restaurant accounting documents
Understanding and utilizing your financials correctly can help turn your business goals into a reality. The following are the financials you should watch if you own a restaurant:
- Cost of goods sold
- Prime costs
- Food costs
- Contribution margin
- Inventory turnover ratio
- Menu item profitability
- Break-even point
- Gross profit
- Net profit
Curating a restaurant menu
Create a restaurant menu that will be tailored to your specific needs in terms of taste, budget, and technique. Either stick to what you know best and change it up once and a while to offer customers dishes that stand out from nearby competitors.
Decide the best time of day that makes sense for customers in terms of what they typically get up to on a weekday or weekend morning: some people might like breakfast while others may prefer lunch or dinner.
Think about how you'll be able to cook a certain dish in multiple ways so that you can have flexibility when it comes to customer tips and requests. For example, if a dish is popular at lunch but not dinner time, then make more of the ingredients used in that dish during those hours instead of using up all your resources on one meal period!
If you have a liquor license, take care of your alcohol and make sure that it is stocked before opening day to avoid running out during peak hours! You'll also want to get tips from the staff on what drinks sell well so be sure to ask for their input as soon as they've been hired.
Don't forget! Try to offer the menu electronically on your website or by scanning a code for ease of ordering, and to cater to those who might not have a menu in hand at your restaurant.
If you want to avoid running out of menus and any potential spills ruining your menus, print extra and have them waterproofed with a matte plastic film or have it slipped into a custom menu folder (which is easier if you change your menu often). Also, ensure that your menus are not too reflective in their material, as this will hinder legibility with any direct source of light; artificial or natural.
Lastly, don't use hard-to-read fonts on your restaurant menus as it will cause more frustration than anything. We recommend using elegant sans-serif fonts such as Avenir or Gill Sans, as they are generally more readable than serif fonts. Keep in mind, that if you opt for a serif font, such as Bodoni or Garamond, you would need to increase the font size in order to account for legibility. A good rule of thumb, design the menu with a font size no smaller than 9pt.
Partner with the Right Restaurant Suppliers
In order to open and maintain a successful restaurant, owners must depend on reliable providers for essentials like plumbing, laundry service, architecture, customer loyalty programs, and point-of-sale solutions. However, finding the correct grocery distributor and restaurant supplier to work with is still the most crucial step. Food and supplies are, after all, the basic components that a restaurant uses to create a delectable menu and a positive dining experience.
How can you pick the finest vendor in a huge metropolis when there are so many of them? Many vendors, restaurant suppliers, and wholesale distributors want your business, but how do you choose the best one? Look at your competition to see which vendors they're utilizing. Many businesses take pleasure in disclosing their client list as references. Conduct research and reach out to references.
It is crucial that you take these five factors into account before placing your first order.
- Digital Catalog
Hire staff and set up payroll
There are a lot of things that need to get done before the opening day of a new restaurant - and it is important to have an idea of how you want your restaurant to look.
Doing all of the work yourself can be exhausting, so hiring staff can sometimes seem like a good option if you're a new business owner. Hire experienced people in the restaurant industry as soon as possible: head chef, general manager, etc.
Make sure when interviewing candidates for managers or other positions that you are asking questions about their experience in the restaurant industry and if they have any tips or tricks for opening day.
It's also important to think about how you want your restaurant space laid out: seating, kitchen, bar, and dining area. It is good to have a general idea of the layout before hiring staff or finalizing any contracts with contractors for construction work. A pre-opening checklist should ask questions like "what will be the main purpose of this space?" to help you determine the needs of your restaurant.
Once you have hired staff, it's important that they are properly trained and know their way around a kitchen or bar so that customers get what they order quickly and correctly. We recommend taking care of this before the opening day because there will be less time available for training once everything is in place.
It's also important to think when hiring staff, about how much you want the restaurant space to be run by one person. You may need a manager for each shift or have two people share hours of work since it can get exhausting running an entire business on your own.
You'll also want to decide if you're going to hire staff in-house or outsource to a third party. Outsourcing can be a cost-effective option for startups but may take longer and require more time from the restaurant owner.
The final thing you want when hiring staff is someone who will fit well with your business's culture: do they come up with great ideas? Do they have similar beliefs, values, and ethics as you? Do they work well with other people?
Start by creating a restaurant timeline (or at least a project management plan you can update as necessary). This will help your business stay on track and be able to avoid some of the common pitfalls.
Purchase quality equipment for your business
Your restaurant won't be successful if you don't invest in the right kitchen equipment. This is especially important because the quality of your food service operation depends on it. Plan and budget carefully before making any purchase.
Plan for restaurant equipment and tools
You will need a lot of kitchen equipment and appliances from ovens to refrigerators, dishwashers, fryers, and more for your dream restaurant. These expenses are usually financed at an interest rate between 0% - 30%, with fixed terms that depend on how much money is needed.
In order to save money, purchase appliances and restaurant equipment used or refurbished. There are also leasing options available that can be paid in monthly installments for as long as you need the equipment.
To acquire a better idea of how much it will cost to open your restaurant (this is important!), use this equation:
Equipment Cost + Lease Payments = Total Equipment Cost in Year One.
Tip: Think about hiring a restaurant consultant before finalizing your equipment purchase so you know what will work best for your needs and budget. They can advise on layout, design tips, costs of appliances, and more!
Choose a secure payment method
Make sure to consider the type of payment methods you want to offer since it will affect your wait time and tips. Will customers be paying by cash, credit card, phone, or even all methods?
We recommend using a POS system when it comes to payments and tipping because this will allow you to track how much money is coming in and for which dishes, and will allow you to track tips and distribute them effectively to your staff.
If you're worried about the tips being too low, don't forget that they are still taxable income for your employees and could end up costing more than what's coming in!
Delivery services can be a lifesaver for the food service businesses that are too far away from where customers want to dine. It can also help those who don't have the energy or time to put into cooking when they come home from work in the evening. It's a great way to appeal to those looking for fast food or home-style dishes with just a few clicks on their phone.
Some of the most popular food delivery services for restaurants are:
- Grub Hub: For specific culinary requests, Grubhub offers a personal chef to make it happen. They also offer catering packages that will give you all the tips and tricks on how to get your restaurant up and running with tips from industry experts.
- Door Dash: Door dash tries to use as many local vendors as possible. This gives you the opportunity to promote your business while supporting other local businesses. You can order by dish or by the restaurant in order to find what you're looking for quickly and easily.
- Eat24: This is an online ordering service that provides restaurant menus and a wide variety of dishes. It's quick, reliable, and easy to use for both restaurant owners and customers.
- Instacart: Instacart provides delivery services that are based on your location and what's available in stores near you. This is perfect if you need soup or just some milk! They also offer tips, tricks, and deals for restaurants which can help drive new business your way.
- UberEATS: Uber Eats offers an easy way to order food for delivery. They work with restaurants in your area and deliver the food right to you! This is great if you're feeling lazy, out of time, or just want a change from cooking at home. The tips are automatically included which means less hassle when it comes to tips.
- Foodler: Foodler offers an online ordering service for food delivery that is designed to help restaurants get more business by providing a platform where you can offer deals, discounts, and coupons as well as find new customers near your location. It's quick, easy, and reliable, and allows restaurant owners the opportunity to provide better customer service while reaching new customers.
- California Tortilla: California tortilla offers delivery services for your favorite Mexican food - no matter where you are in the US! They also offer tips and tricks to help restaurant owners reach out and find more customers with their online ordering service that allows users to order by dish, location, or cuisine type.
Building a Recognizable Brand
Establish Your Social Media Presence
In order to open a food service business like a restaurant successfully, it is important to think about how customers will find out about your food business! You want people who live in the area or those passing by to know where you are located so they can come in for a taste.
Before opening a restaurant there should already be an established social media presence that people can check in on before they come to eat! Build followers with posts of the food you have, fun times at the restaurant, and tips on what people can expect when they come in.
Get your restaurant listed on Google Maps and make sure the business phone number matches up with your website, Yelp listing, or any other social media accounts (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram) that you have set up!
You want to reach out to local newspapers and magazines about what you're doing in order to get the word out.
Immediate customer feedback
It's a common thing for a new restaurant to ask for feedback, especially if they want to know what dishes are doing well, why customers are unhappy with certain dishes, or how they could improve. You'll want to have a feedback form so that customers can write in tips, opinions, and any suggestions for dishes. This will help you know what needs to be changed or improved before the next shift starts. There are many ways that restaurants can do that:
- Include a tips box right on the front of the menu so customers can write in tips, opinions, and any suggestions for dishes. This helps you know what needs to be changed or improved before the next shift starts.
- Place customer feedback cards at the tables or ask the wait staff to give them out as a way of getting more detailed reviews. It may also help if you include a comment card that has a specific space for an email address where people can send their feedback and tips - this will give you a way to communicate back.
- Believe it or not, the time of day that your restaurant opens is an important factor! It's worth considering when deciding on opening hours and what type of business plan will work best for your restaurant as this can affect tips, wait times, and customer satisfaction.
For example, some people might want to go out for lunch during the day and others may want dinner in the evening. It's worth considering when deciding on opening hours as this can affect tips, wait times, and customer satisfaction - it all depends on what your customers are looking for!
Opening Day Planning
The best way to prepare for opening day is with tips from people who are experienced in this area. Be sure to prepare tips for the staff on what they should expect and how you want things done so that opening day is a success!
It also helps to have an idea of who will be working in your restaurant before people start coming through the door- otherwise it can get chaotic very quickly if everyone has different ideas about what needs to be done.
Tips for Staff on Opening Day
- Check their uniform before opening day so that they are not rushing around trying to find a missing piece of clothing or accessory
- Make sure you have someone cleaning the premises and quickly seating customers at their tables
- Leave some extra tables for walk-ins, if you have none left, make sure you're ready to state wait times and reserve tables either using a hostess or in combination with a restaurant reservation app.
- Be sure staff members are aware that tips are expected from all customers, not just those who eat at tables.
- Establish a clear system so that everyone knows what they're responsible for on an opening day and doesn't feel like they're being left out.
- Have someone be a point of contact for tips and complaints from customers
- Bring any necessary equipment to the restaurant (chairs, general supplies) so that opening day goes smoothly.
- Set up your space with tables and chairs before people arrive or when it's slow in the morning. This will save you time later on as there will be more room to work.
- Decide the best time of day that makes sense for customers in terms of what they typically get up to on a weekday or weekend morning: some people might like breakfast while others may prefer lunch or dinner.
- Make sure your liquor is stored where it is supposed to be and is accessible for bartenders/waiters.
- Consider how much time you can dedicate to opening a restaurant in order to make it work. Will your restaurant be open all day, every day? Will it be open from 11-12 pm on a weekday? Keep these factors in mind when considering your hours.
Launch your opening
If you want to benefit from the increased traffic and interest on your opening day, whether it be a soft opening or grand opening, you need to make sure you establish some key foundations so that all of your new customers will become regulars.
Restaurants frequently hold soft openings before opening to the public for a few days. A soft launch, sometimes known as a soft opening, is a lesser, restricted version of a company's full service that is open to the general public. A soft opening is generally an invite-only affair with a limited restaurant menu where guests may try a sample menu as only part of the main service and dining experience.
A soft opening has many advantages, especially for restaurants. A test run with a select group of people can help you work out any issues in your menu, staff training, technology like POS systems, and the overall flow of your restaurant before it opens to the public. This allows you to make changes and ensure that everything is running smoothly before the grand opening day.
Ensure that your grand opening goes off without a hitch. How your customers are greeted, the quality of their food, and how your customers feel about their first dining experience at your establishment are crucial. You want them to return after visiting your restaurant. Make careful that from the time they enter until they depart, everything has been planned out and runs smoothly.
On your restaurant's grand opening, don't worry about how much money you're making. Numbers aren't as important that day as are providing excellent service to customers and being present to help staff when necessary. Most importantly, enjoy yourself!
Restaurant Strategic Plan For Restaurant Owners
A market analysis is required for every strategy. Even if you already own a full-service restaurant, you should improve your marketing efforts such as conducting an annual market study so that you are aware of what is new in the food industry.
Keep in mind that a great marketing plan should be specific. A great marketing plan for your own restaurant is one that speaks to your target market; while the general strategy may be typical, exceptional plans have distinguishing features.
The most essential component of a restaurant marketing plan is:
- A guide can be extremely helpful.
- Focusing your efforts on key areas.
- Tracks your progress so you can understand what strategies are working and which ones aren't.
It takes a significant amount of effort to run a restaurant on a daily basis. In order to have a successful restaurant, you need an effective operational plan. This involves setting realistic goals for your daily activities in order to make them more efficient.
Being aware of your company's financial health as a restaurant owner is critical in ensuring that you are not operating your business without knowledge. Many restaurants fail within five years due to a lack of earnings, understanding your finances can assist you to avoid major problems. You'll be able to view how your restaurant is performing in the market and tackle issues that come with increased income for your company.
Creating detailed financial information for a restaurant is the closest you’re going to get to seeing the future of your business. It will enable you to not only review all the budget necessary for the opening of your restaurant but also to get a better idea of its potential profitability.
The financial forecast helps you determine whether or not your venture will be successful. To ensure that the restaurant you have in mind is financially sustainable, you will examine every aspect of it, from costs to menu prices. To determine the startup costs you need to start your business, you will also list the investments that are necessary, such as restaurant furniture and equipment. This will also give you an idea of what you can expect over the next three years, allowing you to plan the development of your business with confidence.
There are many tips on how to open a restaurant business, but this one is probably the most important. It's best to learn from your competition and figure out what they're doing right so you can do better than them!
To start with,
- See if there are any restaurants in the area that have closed recently and why they may not have been successful.
- Investigate the restaurant market to see if there is a demand for your product or service. Do research on other restaurants in the area that already offer similar food and find out how successful they are.
- Find out when people want to eat (if you have an idea of opening breakfast, lunch, or dinner).
- Find out what people like about competing restaurants. What do they think the restaurant is missing?
- Get tips from other restaurants small business owners, and food bloggers by researching online or directly speaking to people around the area.
- Make sure not to duplicate any restaurants in the market, but rather offer something different and unique that will attract a new customer base!
Know your competition's strengths and weaknesses
Keeping up to date on the latest restaurant openings will help you know your competition. Once you have a clear idea about what kind of restaurant, look for restaurants in that same category or with similarities. Talk to them! Ask which customers they are targeting (age range, occupation) were their most popular menu items come from, and what their service hours are like.
You can also research what kind of food they're serving and if it's a local restaurant, ask about the neighborhood to get tips on where you should be located in order for your customers to find you easily!
Find inspiration from other restaurants too! You want to know how they manage customer expectations, menu items, service hours, and more.
Find your customers
In order to open a successful restaurant, you need to find out who will come in hungry for what you're offering! You want to know what your customer base wants, needs and preferences.
Seek local support: It's important to work with the community in order to establish a restaurant, so you want to reach out and ask for tips on where your customers will come from. Talk to them about what they like or don't like about these other restaurants and why it is that way. You can consider asking them about a restaurant menu and their comments about the variety being offered as well.
For example, if people are complaining about the food at another restaurant, ask them what they would like to see on a menu.
It's also important to understand your customer base so you can cater and create dishes that will be popular with this group! Research current restaurants in the area for tips: It is important to do research when opening a new restaurant because it gives you a practical idea of what to offer in terms of food, design, and customer service.
Determine target demographic
Who is your target market? Are you trying to make your restaurant business a family-friendly atmosphere? Is it a family with young children, couples on the go, working professionals, or students? The type of food and beverages you serve at your restaurant depends largely on what demographic you are targeting.
If you might be serving children and families:
- Look at the restaurant plan to see what kind of food and drink you will have
- Try to make the food more healthy so they can eat it
- Make sure that they have a place to play outside or be seated away from the bar (if you have one)
- Find room to store high chairs and maybe even strollers for customers to dine with ease
If you might be serving couples on the go or working professionals:
- Look for a restaurant that is close by to a metro/bus station and has parking spots available near it
- Make sure there are businesses or shopping centers nearby so they will have something else to do after eating your food
- Make sure you have some take-out and delivery options
- Try to have some quieter spots for working professionals to arrange meetings or work while dining
If you might be serving students:
- Try to have affordable prices for their student budget
- Choose a location that is near university or college buildings and has public transportation nearby
- Offer discounts with ID, such as 50% off the second pizza ordered or 10% off everything.
If you might be serving the elderly:
- Look for a restaurant that is handicap accessible
- Have chairs and tables with high edges to avoid someone from accidentally falling off of it
- Make sure the parking lot has extra space allocated for wheelchairs or scooters
Keep in mind, that they might not be able to eat as quickly as you would want them to. Give them time!
Restaurant Industry trends to watch out for
- Millennials want the ability to customize their food and drinks
- Offering healthier/cleaner menu options for those who have dietary restrictions or allergies
- More vegetarian, vegan & gluten-free offerings.
- Use local produce and spices
- Offer food specials catering to food and beverage holidays, such as National Lasagna Day!
- Farm-to-table restaurant philosophy
- Fusion food
- Alcohol-free drinks
- Offering cooking classes
- Nostalgia food
- Sanitation stations
- Outdoor dining
- A pop-up restaurant (ex: cater at a party, an event, or rent and cook in a food truck)
Be ready for the challenges
The choice of how to open a restaurant is entirely up to you. At the end of the day, there is no one-size-fits-all plan that you can follow to open your future restaurant. The key to success is doing your research and finding out what your target market wants, or who they are so that the business will be successful from day one and still be an attractive food establishment.
For small businesses, opening day is usually followed by days of uncertainty and self-doubt, but that doesn't mean you should give up! You may not have everything planned out perfectly before opening day, but you'll be able to use these tips and those from others who are experienced in this area as well.
Remember that the most important thing to remember on how to open a restaurant is to be yourself and keep learning from your business and your customers. Just with a solid restaurant business plan in hand and this checklist, you have the power to decide what tips you want to implement today for your future restaurant.