The restaurant industry is notorious for its high turnover, and things have only gotten more precarious in the field since the coronavirus pandemic. This means that any designs you had on opening a new establishment in 2023 must be thoroughly planned and costed and every possible risk mitigated.
In the first year of the COVID crisis, as many as 80,000 restaurants in the US closed either temporarily or permanently, and even though the market is starting to experience something of a bounce-back, there are many pitfalls ahead, as well as a shift in the way society sees dining out.
Ahead of the pandemic, there was already a change in the way customers used restaurants. There had been a marked increase in take-out and delivery services, which then skyrocketed, for obvious reasons, during the lockdown periods. Periods of financial insecurity have also led to people not having as much disposable income, and therefore visiting a restaurant is now becoming more of a luxury than ever before.
All of these factors are real challenges for the industry, challenges that should be taken into account when opening your restaurant or cafe.
Where some may see risk, others may see opportunities. If you are committed to starting your restaurant venture, then there’s no reason to put things on pause, not least because the ever-changing nature of the industry means it’s very hard to judge quite when would be the ideal time to get your business off the ground.
There are ways to ensure that the undeniable risks are managed as well as possible, and below, you’ll find a few helpful tips to keep in mind when getting the ball rolling on your restaurant opening plans.
Location Location Location
This should go without saying and is hopefully a factor you’ve already thought about at length, but the location is key to your venture’s potential success or failure. Do copious amounts of research about the location you plan to open your restaurant.
See what already exists in the vicinity and consider some market research, which you can conduct yourself or via an agency. Look to fill gaps in the market rather than trying to outdo direct competitors, especially in the current climate in the culinary industry.
When you are putting together your overall plans, you should rein in spending and not go over the top unless you feel there is a business case for doing so.
This means, for instance, when you are making the relevant orders for restaurant furniture, you should err on the side of caution rather than blowing far too much of your capital on ornate designs that may well not be suitable for your overall theme anyway.
Whatever investment you have in your business proposal, ideally, it will be split among a number of partners so as to spread the risk and the burden. Don’t become ostentatious in terms of construction or renovation costs and any design you have in mind; make it fit for purpose.
Make sure that investors are given a realistic timeframe in terms of a return on their investment, and don’t overplay your hand.
What Is Your Restaurant’s Niche
You need to think long and hard and plan when it comes to identifying what your restaurant’s niche is. What is the purpose of your restaurant, and what is the driving force for its success?
Who are you aiming at? Is it young professionals who live and work in the area, or are you catering for couples dining out in the evening? What do you have that other restaurant in the area don’t?
If no other decent restaurants are operating in your area, why and what are you doing that will create a need that isn’t already required?
Jump Through All the Regulatory Hoops
Before you open a restaurant, there are countless bureaucratic steps you must take, and these are cumbersome and can take months to clear, maybe even longer. Employ strategic staff ahead of the opening, individuals who know how the system works and can give you realistic timetables in terms of getting all the documentation completed.
You’ll need a lawyer and an accountant on top of any other relevant assistance, and the costs of these will often be far higher than you initially budgeted for. These are, however, crucial costs that can’t be overlooked and are undervalued.
Hire the Right Staff
Often, a restaurant can try to wing it when it comes to staffing, and this can prove a very costly mistake. When it comes to bringing in the right people, from waiting for staff vacancies to head chef, you can’t afford to cut corners.
You can look to outsource this process via an HR firm that has experience in the field, and this is a better option than trying to take care of things yourself. Sure, you might have had a great meal at a specific restaurant, and that may lead you to believe that their chef is the right one for your endeavor, but on the whole, this should all be taken out of your hands by professionals who know the ins and out of the entire process.
Turnover of staff can prove very expensive, and if you have the wrong people in position, this will inevitably affect the quality of the experience for your customers, who may or may not return as a result.
Be Prepared for the Long Haul
It will take a while to define whether your restaurant venture is a success and as for failure, well, that can happen very quickly indeed; if you don’t have the sufficient safety net and investment to cater for initial shortfalls, you will invariably suffer.
Suffice it to say, if your restaurant business is still filling tables and operating a year after you’ve opened, then you have achieved what many others have not.