The restaurant industry is highly lucrative. It is also highly dynamic, and the competition is stiff. To this end, a study published by Cornell University reports that approximately 60% of all restaurants close within the first year. However, the ones that make it and establish a foothold in the market enjoy great returns.
It takes a methodical approach to run a successful restaurant. You would do with some tips from successful restaurant owners who have learnt from their mistakes. Here are seven tips to get you started.
1. Choose Your Concept Wisely
How do you picture your restaurant? Will it be a high-end restaurant where customers come for special occasions, or a fast-food restaurant where people come for convenience?
There are several restaurant concepts that you can go with:
- Food Trucks
- Fast Food Restaurants
- Pop-Up Restaurants
- Fast Casual Dining (family-style dining)
- Upscale Dining
It is important to get your concept right, as it will determine how your restaurant will operate. For example, starting and running a high-end restaurant will take more capital than operating a food truck. Each concept has its benefits and shortcomings.
2. Know Your Food
The main reason why people eat out is for food. They want food that will tantalize their taste buds and satisfy them, without cooking it themselves. As such, you must cook great food that meets your customers’ requirements.
Invest in hiring a chef who knows their way around the kitchen and prepares great food. The food should also look as good as it tastes – presentation is a big part of the restaurant industry.
Most importantly, the food should be clean and healthy. On that note, many restaurants make the common mistake of using their cooking oil for too long. This makes food dull and masks its fresh taste. To this end, it is recommendable to change your cooking oil as much as possible. You can schedule regular cooking oil pickup and make money for your used grease.
3. Invest In Your Employees
Running a restaurant is hard work, and it is virtually impossible to do it alone. In fact, many restaurant employees don’t consider the money enough for the work they put in. They need more motivation than just a paycheck to bring out their best. Their best matters, too – it matters in the kitchen to get the food ready on time, and it matters on the restaurant floor when the employees are interacting with guests.
Invest in your employees by compensating them well and providing a positive working environment. Let them know that they are valued and get them to come together as a team that shares your visions and goals.
4. Streamline for Efficiency
Restaurants often run on tight schedules. Clients walk in expecting their food and drinks to be ready and waiting. However, this is easier said than done, as chefs often have to cook meals back-to-back as orders come in. This can lead to long delays that will ruin your customers’ experience. This is why every restaurant needs to run efficiently.
The secret of efficiency in running a restaurant is streamlining the kitchen floor. The kitchen floor should be like a factory, whereby everyone has a specialized task – the chef for cooking, helpers for preparing ingredients, dishwashers, and more.
This will ensure that everything runs smoothly. Your guests will get their food on time, there will be less wastage in the kitchen, and everything will be neater.
5. Make Your Customers Your Guests
Food is the primary reason why people eat out. The other equally important reason is the experience of dining out. They want to eat in a serene environment with friends and family.
Change your perspective from viewing customers as ordinary customers just bringing in money. Instead, view them as guests who come to your place for a good time and intend to leave presents when they leave. This entails meeting all their expectations and providing a positive dining environment that feels like home.
Interestingly, customers will keep coming back for the experience even if the food is not up to their expectations. They will also spread the word if they find your restaurant appealing – and criticize you on Yelp if they don’t like the service.
6. Market Aggressively
Competition in the restaurant industry is aggressive. To this end, you need to market just as aggressively to get more customers through the door.
Your first marketing point should be your brand. It should be likable and memorable for people to relate with. It should reflect your reputation, which should be your second marketing point. Your restaurant should be associated with good food and great service. This is important as it will fuel every business’s best marketing strategy: word of mouth, as your customers spread the word about how good your restaurant is.
The internet and social media are also big marketing fronts. Social media is especially effective, as you can narrow down your target audience to people more likely to walk into the restaurant. It is also recommendable to encourage your customers to engage you on restaurant review pages such as Yelp and spread the word even further. A website also gives you a place in the vast online marketplace, as anyone can learn about your restaurant and order something.
7. Always Have an Emergency Fund
A restaurant relies on customers walking in or ordering something. This is not always guaranteed. To this end, the first few months of business can be unstable, and you may not earn enough to support your business – or even break-even. To this end, it is always recommendable to have an emergency fund to cushion you from the inevitable losses.
Instability is what causes many restaurants to shut down within the first year. Sadly, many of these restaurants could succeed if they held on a little longer. Don’t make the same mistake!
Running a restaurant can prove difficult, but the rewards are more than worth it. These tips are inspired by professional expertise and years of experience. They are also practical and easy to implement, and they work for all restaurant concepts.
(Cover Image Source: Pexels)