When starting your own restaurant, you’ll likely make endless sacrifices in order to get it off the ground. A huge amount of your time and money will go into it and you may even need to take an evening job to keep up with costs.
Have Good Intentions
Whilst this might sound daunting, if you truly, deep down want to set up and run your own restaurant, you’ll be happy to make these sacrifices and so much more. Ensure that setting up a restaurant is your passion, not just a way to make money.
Have A Strong Business Plan
A strong business plan takes time but if done correctly, it will help guide your business through its first 6 months. The best way to create a business plan is to start with the skeleton and fill in the gaps after.
What basics should your business plan include?
- Things you’ll need to get started and their cost
- Comprehensive market research
- Who your target audience is
- Online marketing plans
- Solid budget projections for the next year to three years
- A broad look at your competitors businesses
For help putting together your first business plan, visit the GOV.UK website. Here you can find bundles of links to help you get started, including business plan templates, examples and general advice.
Know Your Location
Location is everything when it comes to setting up a restaurant. You need to find an area that’s busy, easily accessible for all and has the potential for expansion. Finding a building in a nice area will improve your chances of drawing in customers but these spaces often come at a premium.
Finding the right balance between cost and location is long process but as one of the most important business decisions you’ll make as a restaurant owner, it’s worth taking your time over.
If you’re serious about starting your own restaurant, then you probably already have a few dishes in mind that you’re desperate to put on the menu. Nonetheless, it’s always important to test these dishes with a range of different people before you make a concrete commitment.
Invite over friends and family, or even go out on the streets and offer free samples to find out what people really think of your food. Ask them what they would pay for the meal, what they think of your pricing and whether they would change anything about the dish or portion size.
Just because you love the taste of a particular dish, doesn’t mean everyone else will. One thing you will learn when trying to start your own restaurant is that you have to be willing to adapt for your customers, even if you don’t like it yourself.
It’s impossible to run a business all by yourself, so you’ll need to think about some essential staff members to help you along. If you’re planning on opening up a restaurant, rather than a small café, then you will definitely need some other management level help.
Of course, you don’t need a whole army of cooks and waiting staff to begin with. For the first year or so, you’ll probably be doing a lot of things yourself to save money and get things moving in the right direction.
Nonetheless, you should consider hiring another experienced manager to help you make key decisions when you’re first finding your feet. Just make sure they are as passionate as you are.
Word of mouth will only get you so far when you’re marketing your restaurant. If you really want to let people know who you are, you’ll have to put in the hard work.
Below are a few ideas to get your started
- Use social media channels to build branding and offer promotions and freebies.
- Participate in local community events and either sell your food or give out free samples.
- Find the local business association in your area and join up.
- Advertise in local magazines, papers and booklets (some publications offer heavily reduced rates for new businesses).
- Create and then advertise a generous customer loyalty scheme.
Counting Your Costs
Food and labour costs can soar out of control if you’re not careful and keeping an eye on these will help you to stay out of debt.
Hiring staff is a tricky one because you need vital employees all year round but it can be hard to plan for seasonal rushes during your first year. Try to create an employee timetable that makes the most out of each member of staff and fill in any additional gaps yourself. If you get really desperate, you can always consider hiring temp staff to cover peak times later down the line.
Whilst food is at the heart of your business and deserves a good place within your budget, you still need a plan to keep costs under control. Food wastage, prices that are too low or too high and food prep can all cost you money.
Setting up and running a restaurant is a difficult juggling act but one that is incredibly rewarding if food is your true passion.
Funding And Working At A Loss
If you don’t want to fall flat on your face, you must generate enough start-up capital to keep you going. You’ll need three streams of funding, one to pay for the cost of the solid items you need for the restaurant, one to pay for the restaurants bills and one to pay for your own bills.
You’ll need the last two types of funding for at least 6 months, preferably longer, as you are likely to be running at a loss during this period. Losing money for the first few months doesn’t mean you’re failing; very few businesses start operating at a profit right away. Unfortunately, it’s just the nature of setting up and running an expensive business.