Never has opening a restaurant been considered a more desirable career change. When friends and family praise your latest offering on the dinner table it’s easy to get carried away and imagine yourself draped in Michelin stars preaching about the joys of fresh produce.
But for those who do decide to take the big step into the restaurant world there can be some harsh truths to discover about the day to day running of such a business.
People that enter the trade are invariably full of enthusiasm, creative, dedicated and optimistic. These are all very useful traits but having these alone will not guarantee the success of your new restaurant.
So, before you think about ditching your comfortable 9-5 job, take a look at our top tips to making your entrance into the restaurant world a success.
1) Understand the hard-work involved
The simple fact is that running a restaurant is not easy. You’ll be working long hours which are unsociable and leave you no time to go out and enjoy the finer points in life. It really is an all-consuming profession.
Being hands-on, especially at the start of a new restaurant’s life, is essential. It’s common for successful restaurant owners to bury themselves in the minutia of their business, knowing what goes on in every department.
You’ll also have to organise all the administrative issues that come with opening a restaurant such as the bookkeeping, getting restaurant insurance and giving out your staff’s wages. Such tasks can certainly be time-consuming and stressful and require a committed person to get it all right.
In fact, most restaurants that fail have absentee owners or owners that weren’t prepared to do the hard-work that the restaurant industry entails.
2) Find your speciality
One important thing to do when you’re setting up a restaurant is to think of what your restaurant is doing that is different to the rest. Even if it is one speciality dish that will get customers talking about your business and coming back to sample it again, it’s crucial to have some kind of unique selling point (USP).
Something as simple as coming up with an original and interesting name for your restaurant can really grab people’s attention and get people through the door.
The location of your restaurant can also set you apart from your competition. After all who doesn’t enjoy eating lunch or dinner with a great panorama in front of them?
There is no harm in looking at what your competitors are doing and learning from them. Consider the points that you like and dislike about other restaurants and try to incorporate what you’ve observed into your business.
3) Get the food right
Let’s be honest, the most crucial part of any business is the quality of the food. If you’ve got that part of your business right then you are at least half way to getting where you need to be.
The food of a restaurant is often seen as an extension of the owner’s personality and the marketplace has always been unforgiving about a lack of quality.
With the world of social media transforming the way we receive reviews about restaurants, it’s important to get it right from day one.
Other things to consider are looking to source your ingredients from local producers and the costs of any specialist equipment you might need to create your dishes in the kitchen.
4) Don’t just hire anyone
Running a restaurant is certainly not a one man job, so getting in the right staff to help your new business become a success is very important.
Your staff will not only keep your restaurant running smoothly, but they will also be the ones interacting with customers and will become the face and personality of your business.
Look for people with decent experience in the trade so they’ll understand what it takes to provide great service to your customers and make sure they understand what you expect of them if they choose to take the job.
You’re going to need people who are ready to work hard and be flexible with their working hours especially in the early stages of the restaurant.
5) Decide on your customer base
Ideally you’d want people flocking to your restaurant from all parts of the country, enticed by positive reviews from the public and famed newspaper food critics.
However, in reality your best bet is to focus on the local community, as attracting people from further afield is much more difficult and often unsustainable.
It’s a good idea to conduct some primary research with your potential customer base to see what they are looking for in a new restaurant.
Doing some basic promotional work by allowing potential customers to sample some of your dishes can give your restaurant a good boost and start a positive word-of-mouth message.
One of the most important things to remember is a restaurant is a business, and a business needs customers. You should put what they want before your personal grand ideas in setting up your new restaurant.
Are you thinking about setting up a new restaurant? Let us know in the comments section below.