“A well-run restaurant is like a winning baseball team. It makes the most of every crew member’s talent and takes advantage of every split-second opportunity to speed up service.” ~ David Ogilvy
If you are in the restaurant business, you know it’s a wild ride. Amidst the bustling ambiance and wide variety of mouth-watering cuisines, there’s the constant battle to keep those doors open and stay ahead of the curve.
Let’s face it: your diners’ taste buds change faster than you can say “gourmet,” you have to juggle high overhead costs and decreasing margins, and the challenge of implementing the ideal inventory management system leaves you at your wits’ end.
What’s worse, there’s been a drastic shift in consumer behavior following the pandemic. But what if there was a way you could navigate the arduous moving parts of this business? Let’s unveil what you need to set yourself up for success and redefine your restaurant’s narrative.
Personal Questions Every Restaurateur Must Ask
Business growth isn’t just all about making more bucks. It’s also about spotting problems and pain points and devising solutions to improve operations and consumer experience. Curious how? Here are a few key areas to contemplate:
What Is Your Business’s Core Purpose?
Why are you in business? Is it to provide a good, fast, and affordable dining experience, to express cultural identity, or to serve high-end gourmet fare? The food and beverage industry is vast, having a market size of $7,221.73 billion in 2023, according to The Business Research Company.
The restaurant sector being a segment of this industry plays a unique role, with different types of restaurants serving specific markets. To stand out and stay relevant, it’s important that you niche down to your target audience. This is where your business’s core purpose comes in clutch.
If you can answer this question, you’ll have the foundational elements you can reference anytime you need to make a business decision.
How Far Are You Willing to Go to See This Work?
Running any business isn’t smooth sailing, not to mention restaurant management. It demands your blood, sweat, and tears. Put it this way, you need to have your game face on at all times to see your startup come to life—even when the going gets tough.
A restaurant venture takes a lot of time, commitment, and money to pull off. As a business owner, you should ask yourself how much of your life you are willing to put into it. If you don’t have the required qualities, you might have difficulty keeping up with the pace.
What Type of Support Structure Do You Have?
When starting a restaurant, it’s better to have help. At least, a staff member should be available to help you set things in motion. This could be your BFF who’s a whiz in the kitchen or your cousin with a knack for numbers.
Financial backing is also a must-have, especially if you don’t have deep pockets. Your inner circle can chip in to get your project off the ground. Alternatively, you could seek a financial advisor’s expertise to secure a business loan or explore crowdfunding options.
Whatever route you take, bear in mind that the right support team in your corner does make a huge difference. You can’t do it all by yourself, even if you’re a visionary founder.
What Tips Do You Need to Succeed as a Restaurateur?
Every business venture is unique, but there are overarching practices all restaurateurs must follow to be successful. Here are some of them:
Have a Unique Selling Point (USP)
This rule intertwines with knowing your business’s core purpose. It’s what sets you apart, without which it will be tough to succeed in the saturated industry. Once you have the heart and soul of your food business figured out, you’re on the right track.
For example, your USP could be a rotating globetrotter menu. Each month, your restaurant features a new set of dishes inspired by a specific country. It’s like having a passport to a different taste of adventure every time a diner steps through the door.
Soon enough, your brand will become synonymous with this exciting, ever-changing experience.
Choose Your Location Wisely
If you want to make it big in this industry, you need to select a spot with the best traffic. Consider where your prospective diners tend to be—a business district or a college town? Are they on-the-go millennials and Gen Xers, or boomers looking to catch up with friends over a cup of joe? What types of cuisine do they crave the most? You get the drift.
Monitor Cost, Stock, and Inventory Closely
Being a restaurateur comes with the responsibility of keeping tabs on your business’s cash flow and operational efficiency. Simply put, you should have a crystal-clear picture of your inventory, labor, and overall spending to see what’s working and what’s not.
The last thing you want is to lose a customer because you accidentally served them expired food or drinks due to overstocking or mismanagement of stock. To improve efficiency and cut down on waste, consider investing in point-of-sale (POS) software, a smart digital kitchen, and other tech-related solutions.
Hire Capable Staff and Keep Them Happy
There’s no such thing as a one-man show when you run a restaurant. It takes a whole team to get the job done. When looking for new hires, be hands-on in the interview process. First, they need to possess the right experience and skill set for the role. Second, they have to be passionate about what they’re doing, as that will rub off on you and your other team members.
Professionals with these qualities can be found on Leadar. In addition, you need to set expectations and lay down the groundwork for a working relationship that works for both sides. Restaurants thrive on positive energy, so make sure you keep morale high with employee recognition, rewards, and perks.
Treat Customers Right
A 10/10 experience is your mantra. You should strive to exceed your customers’ expectations at all times. You can start by providing great service and ensuring that your restaurant space is well-maintained. That way, your restaurant becomes your customers’ regular hangout spot, where they don’t mind paying premium prices for their meals.
Also, remember to ask for their feedback and keep an open line of communication. This shows them you care about them and that their input is important.
The bottom line is that there’s no magic formula for running a restaurant. Your secret weapon is having a clear understanding of what it takes to succeed in this competitive industry. With the right team, support, and commitment, you can turn the tide and rise to the top.