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The Ultimate Guide in Starting a Successful Restaurant

Everyone dreams of becoming their own boss and to finally graduate from the true final educational course: The years of employment in another business. Fulfilling one’s dreams is an admirable and rewarding experience. However, success requires dedication, perseverance, sacrifice, and hard work. In addition, planning makes sure all your efforts will lead to success.

A successful restaurant takes root in the taste and quality of your dishes. Then, it must unite and blend accordingly with your restaurant’s ambience, design, brand personality, and a host of other elements that make restaurants memorable and provide a unique experience for customers. 

Here is everything you need to know to make sure you make your dreams of starting and owning a successful restaurant become true!

Gain Mentorship/Experience Being a Restaurant Staff

Your experience working in the food sector gives you insight about management, staff movement, resource allocation, inventory, and a host of many useful skills you’ll bring back once you’ve begun to invest time and money in your venture. However, experience might not be enough without actual mentorship. 

You may have some perspective on marketing, creating menus, payrolls, and others. However, the true formula for success will always come from those who have tried and experimented with many different methods and found the most successful ones.

On the other hand, if you have no prior experience in the food industry but have plans to start your own food venture, it’s important to consider working under a business first to gain beneficial perspective that will prove beneficial to your future restaurant business.

The Restaurant’s Niche

If you’re going to open a lemonade stand and sell your homemade juice for 50 cents right next to the same stall that sells the same item for the same price, then you will only make the market smaller for you and your rival company.

According to Forbes, in America, 59% of first-time restaurant owners close shop within the first three years. It sounds dreadful, but the reality is most starting culinary establishments are competing with others who offer the same palate of dishes and ambience.

In this light, it is important to determine your restaurant’s unique selling proposition (USP) in the form of your dishes, ambience, marketing, and branding. 

Restaurant Branding Look

Your food should taste as good as it looks, and you as a restaurant owner must definitely know this golden rule. However, the place serving the amazingly tasting food should have an ambience that matches the culture and tradition of the food itself. Not only will it do wonders for your marketing, but also the taste of your food.

If your USP takes root in your amazing homemade pies, your restaurant ambience can have a homely Western or Mediterranean feel. If your dishes are mostly Japanese, then adding a touch of Japan’s cultural touches in your venue definitely helps improve your aesthetic.

Many restaurant owners and investors strongly believe that the right ambience makes the food taste better than it should be. In fact, some chefs believe ambience is one of the elements that make first-class aeroplane food — no matter how well cooked — taste terrible.

Interior Design and Mood

You have the right food and the right theme for your restaurant. Now, you can just position the tables in grids of three tables per row with four chairs right? Unfortunately, interior design is not that simple.

While the food and venue’s cultural inclination will create a pleasant experience, the arrangement of objects in the venue can significantly affect it positively or negatively.

Picture this example: you own a fine dining Indian cuisine restaurant. However, your venue has tables arranged in rows and no glamorously long dining areas for family or business meeting use near walls. It makes your venue’s ambience have the feel of a fast-food chain rather than a classy, upscale fine dining establishment.

Fortunately, interior design principles aren’t difficult to understand, but it still pays to work with an experienced professional designer to sort out the right feel and mood for your restaurant.

Seating Capacity

One rule of thumb every new restaurant owner should keep in mind: you cannot accommodate everyone. If you’re a fast-food chain, it’s great to receive many customers as possible. However, limiting seats in your venue give you full control of customer traffic, which has a direct effect on your restaurant team’s performance.

Most fine dining restaurants explicitly state their actual seating capacity and encourage customers to make reservations earlier to guarantee seats. Niche restaurants can choose between having more seats or encouraging reservations as well. Always consider your team’s capability before finalising the number of seats in your restaurant.

Remember, consistency in product and brand rather than higher profit is a better and more rewarding goal than otherwise.

Give Yourself a Brand-Able Name

It’s fun to give your restaurant a name. However, don’t just pick one out from thin air. It’s important that your restaurant name reflects the food you serve, the culture your food belongs to, and your objectives, USP, working values, and motivation.

A great way to make a brandable name is to list down all the traits of your food, your business attitude, the restaurant’s unique selling point, and everything else that makes up your restaurant. Then, search for adjectives that describe your business. You will definitely find the perfect name for your restaurant!

Study Your Rivals, Study the Market

restaurant-competition

Every business tries extremely hard to find their own food niche in different ways. It can be serving Korean food in a location where American grilled food is predominant or serving up unique twists in Frankfurters with an odd yet tasteful combination of meat and condiments. However, sooner or later, you’ll have rivals in the same selling space.

Rivals can be two types of restaurants: the most successful tasty restaurant that serves different food than yours or another restaurant offering the same dishes as you.

Studying your successful rivals can give you more valuable and useful insight into your local market and emerging competition. They have mine-able data about the tastes, sensibilities, and spending activities of local customers. Studying their activities can help you formulate the following elements that greatly contribute to your success as a restaurant.

Restaurant Menu

You’re serving food that most reviewers say taste better than your competitor. However, your rival is getting more customers and traffic than you. Upon researching, you discovered that your customers disliked the long waiting times. Others mentioned both positive and negative areas of the food’s consistency in terms of quality. How does your menu fit into this?

Your menu might be too much for your kitchen or staff to handle. 

To address this issue, create a menu and always consider the following:

    • The kitchen size: If you have a small kitchen, you might want to have a smaller menu. Consider the restaurant seating capacity as well.
    • Your cooking staff’s output capacity: A small kitchen can limit output, but a team of first-time cooking staff with just a year or two of experience may be a handicap in cooking too.

 

  • Supply logistics or procurement arrival: Your supplier may deliver raw cooking materials you might need inconsistently and this can affect your restaurant output and food quality (which can become a big problem quickly.

 

With these details in mind, you can create a menu that does not compromise on quality and manages customers’ expectations about your food. Make sure your menu design has the same theme and aesthetic as your establishment ambience and food you serve. 

Pricing

Studying your rivals helps you gauge whether their prices are lower than yours. However, don’t immediately set your prices below the competition’s offers just yet. 

Take note of the following aspects that affect dish prices in restaurants:

    • The 65-20-50 Percent Margins: As a general rule, most restaurants use the 65-20-50 per cent profit margins on food, alcoholic, and soft drink/specialty drinks. This helps you cover procurement, preparation, and maintenance costs in your restaurants.

 

  • Competitor’s Dishes: Ingredients vary with every dish. If your competitor is serving a simple rice topping dish while you’re serving family-sized servings, you cannot lower your prices just to compete. 
  • Maintenance Costs: The 65-20-50 per cent guarantees you have something to spend on your necessary operating costs. However, it does not guarantee you will gain anything above profit. Before you mark down your prices, estimate your maintenance and profit costs at all times.

 

It’s never good to use prices as a means to compete with your rivals. Instead, find your niche and get a dedicated and loyal customer base who are raving fans of your dish, ambience, and overall branding. 

Target Audience

One big mistake most new restaurants make is to try and cater to all kinds of tastes. For example, a Japanese restaurant in the Philippines should focus on its specialty Japanese cuisine if it’s a fine-dining or middle-range restaurant. However, if its aim is to gain low-spending range audiences, it can include a Japanese feel to local Philippine dishes at a price their target audience can afford.

Knowing your target audience helps greatly in developing your final menu. With knowledge about your audience’s spending habits, taste palate, cultural sensitivities, and general perspective towards the type of dish you serve, you can create the perfect menu that can generate the customer traffic and profits you’re aiming for.

Will You Take Out a Loan or Save Up Money?

Sometimes, saving up for your new restaurant can be more expensive than you initially thought. Most banks are willing to provide financing for starting restaurants. While it sounds like a great idea to use instead of saving up, always remember that banks will add interest rates when you miss payments. In addition, they’re likely to increase interest as your restaurant’s value increases every year.

Furthermore, banks need you to create an excellent restaurant business plan to gain approval for your loan. If you had saved enough for a business, you’re definitely in excellent hands. Only use a loan as your last resort 

Some Permits, Licenses and Other Rules You Will Need to Follow

Building, sanitary, and other licensing certification permits require funding. In addition, you’ll need to pay a regular sum for their renewal every few years. Set your restaurant grand opening period once you’ve received permission and licenses.

Every government has different requirements for F&B licenses and certifications. Make sure to review your local government’s business regulation and guidance requirements before you conceptualise your business plan. 

Your Online Presence

restaurant-online

The Internet is technically free advertising. Social media allows you to create a free listing in the form of your personal Brand Page. Websites allow people to find you through search engines, which most customers frequently use to find establishments similar to yours. Investing in your online presence isn’t as expensive as buying new equipment, but it can help you expand and gain a dedicated following fast.

Website

You can own a domain for quite an affordable price nowadays. However, have a professional web designer to create your new website. It’s important to remember the restaurant design principles we listed above when making your own website. Your Internet beacon should have a similar aesthetic and motif as your restaurant and its dishes.

Social Media Account

Many F&B businesses have seen great success using Instagram and Facebook to advertise their food. Social media is free to use, and it has a paid advertising feature that gives your posts priority viewing for people interested in dishes similar to yours. In addition, customers who love your product can immediately comment their feedback, which contributes immensely to your overall network visibility.

Online Delivery System 

Third-party online delivery services have a vast network of customers and restaurants. For venues similar to yours, this is a form of advertising and lead generation at the same time. 

While it can give you quick advances in profit, online delivery services take as much as 40% of your sales profits as part of its commission. If this sounds like a bad long-term idea for your restaurant, then you might want to switch to an online delivery system created and dedicated just for your business such as NinjaOS.

Everything Big Starts With a Small but Firm Plan!

Opening up your restaurant during the ribbon-cutting seems like a dream when you think about it now. However, by keeping your plans organized by using this ultimate guide to start a successful restaurant, you’re definitely going to achieve that dream and bring your new venture to success in no time!

If you’re in need of a highly-useful, dedicated platform that records your restaurant and customer data in real-time (which are critical for growth), we’ve got a solution that can help. Drop us a line at sales@ninjaos.com to learn more.

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