You’ve always loved food and socializing. Nothing is more gratifying than a hard day’s work. If this sounds familiar, you might gain a lot of satisfaction from owning your own restaurant.
It’s not an easy task — many experts warn that most food service establishments don’t last through the first year. However, if you’re determined to succeed, starting with a solid plan could make all the difference. Here are five steps to get your concept up and running:
1. Determine the Service Style
Do you want to be available for patrons on the go with quick counter service and a comprehensive carry-out menu? Or do you envision white tablecloths and a high-end wine list? Figure this out early, especially if you plan on serving alcohol and need to apply for a TABC permit.
2. Coordinate the Menu and Concept
After you decide how your restaurant will run, pick the type of cuisine you want to create and invent a unique environment in which you want to serve it. Your whole concept should fit together. For example, the price should match the speed of service and quality of food, and the décor should match the menu and price point.
3. Make a Business Plan
Before you start looking for bank financing or investors, you need a clear, well-defined business plan. In essence, write a narrative of how you’ll initially open the restaurant. Describe your day-to-day operation, including how you’ll solve unexpected problems. Include all the fine details of your vision, menu, target clientele and financial forecast.
4. Find Premises and Hire Employees
Choosing the right location and the right employees can be critical to your success and failure. Consider budget, how patrons will find you, and how easy it will be for them to get to your restaurant before you lease or buy.
Before you start hiring employees, take the time to organize the leadership hierarchy. Outline all of the job descriptions from the general manager all the way down to the dishwashers.
5. Market and Advertise Your Concept
Marketing and advertising can be costly, but you don’t need to spend big bucks right at the beginning. Word-of-mouth advertising is often most effective in the food service industry. Social media business pages are free and can be a great way to get exposure in your community. You can interact with potential customers, take the market temperature, and promote your new restaurant.
You can probably expect to focus your next few years on hard work and not much else. Still, if you do the proper planning and give it your all, opening and running your own restaurant can be a tremendously rewarding experience.