Opening a restaurant business requires dedication, patience, and planning. If you’re in the early stages of opening a restaurant, set yourself up for success with these must-haves.
1. A Business Plan
The very first thing you need is a restaurant business plan. It will help you define your restaurant’s niche, customer base, and marketing plan. Additionally, investors want to see a well-written plan if you’re considering outside financing.
Be detailed in the content you put into your plan. Do your homework so you know as much as possible about your local restaurant competition, what your customers will be willing to pay for a dish, and the marketing channels they frequent.
There are some great technology tools that will make running a restaurant a lot easier. You need a point-of-sale system for taking orders and managing your loyalty program, as well as inventory management software to keep track of what’s in stock and what you’re paying for ingredients.
You’ll also need accounting software to keep track of your business finances, and maybe a social media dashboard to make marketing through Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and easier.
3. A Menu
Plan out your menu long before you open your doors. The research you did for your business plan should help you set prices for menu items; you can always lower them later if they’re too high.
Invite friends and family to come to taste your menu for a soft launch event. Use their feedback to tweak recipes to be more appealing if necessary.
The sooner you hire and train your restaurant employees, the more prepared they will be once you do open. It may take a while to find a chef that’s the right fit, particularly if yours is a high-end concept. Allow time and budget to find the best chef for your restaurant business.
Hire front of house and back of house staff, and provide training for all together so they can build a sense of camaraderie as they learn together.
Whether you bring on investors, take out a loan, or bootstrap your restaurant business, you need to ensure that you have adequate funding both for your launch and the first months since you won’t be guaranteed a profit right away.
Plan for unforeseen expenses, like over-budget renovations or unexpected equipment costs and build those into your budget. It’s better to have more money than you need than not enough!
6. Restaurant Business Licenses
Every restaurant needs one or more business licenses to operate. You probably need a general business permit, but then also one to serve food. You’ll need another if you plan to sell alcohol. Check with your city and county government to find out what the requirements are long before you plan to open. Inspections and applications can take a while to schedule and process.
You may think you should start marketing once your restaurant business has launched. In fact, you should begin before. Starting early lets you build your social media followers and email contact list in anticipation of what’s to come. Reach out to local reporters who cover the food scene to let them know that you’ll be opening soon. You can invite them to your soft launch if you’re confident that the menu will get rave reviews.
Now is a good time to decide whether you will manage the marketing activities for your restaurant or if you need to hire help or outsource your tasks.
The further out you start working on this list of must-haves for your restaurant business the better off you will be…read our free guide to turbocharge your restaurant, How to Start and Grow your Restaurant Business.