Opening a restaurant can be a thrilling opportunity to take your passion for food and pair it with an entrepreneurial spirit. That being said, not all restaurants can succeed based on passion alone. It’s critical that you do the proper amount of research and planning ahead of any business launch in order to find success, and the restaurant industry is no different. Particularly because of the fact that restaurants operate on such thin margins, having a strong business plan can be the difference between a sustainable restaurant model and major problems in your first few years.
As you’re planning your restaurant launch, it’s a good idea to think through what your vision is and how you plan to execute that vision. Whether you’re planning on opening a bakery, deli, or fine-dining establishment, there are a lot of decisions to make as you work to open your restaurant. Read on for five tips to keep in mind as you work through the planning stages to make your restaurant dreams a reality.
1. Minimize costs whenever possible.
While every restaurant has a different budget, some types of restaurant supplies and equipment are common from business to business. Especially when it comes to opening your first restaurant, it’s easy to spend a lot of money on refrigerators, ovens, stoves, and other restaurant equipment at a restaurant supply store. Equipping a commercial kitchen for a low price can be difficult to manage, and that’s before you look into getting glassware, dinnerware, and other small wares for your diners to use.
One way to save on these costs is to look for local options where you can purchase some of these items used. Even getting a good deal on your freezers can make a big difference in your bottom line. If you’re opening your restaurant in Bellevue or the Seattle area, look online for “restaurant equipment Seattle” to see what options are close by. Finding a local restaurant supplier can save you a lot of time and money when it comes to purchasing the equipment you need.
2. Find a niche that stands out.
A good idea or restaurant concept is equally as important as having a solid business plan. This is because if you don’t have something that makes you unique, it will be hard to market your restaurant. Good food will only get you so far, since in order to generate word of mouth you need to actually get customers through the door. Take a look at other eating establishments in the city of Seattle to see what’s missing. Whether that’s setting up a new hot pot restaurant with bold Asian flavors or finding a way to appeal to the happy hour crowd with decadent appetizers and craft brews, there are plenty of options to consider.
3. Use social media to build buzz.
As you near opening day, you’ll want to make sure that potential customers know about your restaurant. Thankfully, social media is a cost-effective marketing platform seemingly tailor-made for restaurants. Who doesn’t like scrolling through their newsfeed and finding delicious photos or videos of food? Beyond putting organic social media content out about your menu items, consider encouraging customers to leave reviews on Facebook, Google, and Yelp to build word of mouth, too.
4. Hire the right team.
Everyone—from the chefs to the dishwashers—has a crucial role to play in the restaurant business. As such, it’s critical that you hire the right team and train them properly. From the waitstaff to the technician that handles your restaurant equipment cleaning, each individual employee has an impact on how your restaurant runs. Make sure to be selective and ask good interview questions as you’re hiring in order to ensure that your standards of quality are met.
5. Get your finances in order.
Even if you’re cutting costs whenever possible, bankrolling a restaurant is expensive. As such, you need to have a solid business plan and budget for your first year in order to thrive. Getting extra assistance from the Small Business Association or investors can also help you keep your restaurant afloat when the going gets tough. It won’t be easy, but if you’re passionate about your vision, it’ll definitely be worth it!