Nearly half of all restaurant employees tell us that they like the idea of running a restaurant of their own someday. Considering that half of the adult population in Australia has worked in a restaurant at one point or another during their life, it is obvious that success in the restaurant business is an incredibly common goal.
Success in the restaurant business, however, is relatively rare. Most restaurants, cafes, and bars close their doors not long after opening them. Even those establishments that manage to survive often fail to thrive. They go on, year after year, just barely getting by.
There is clearly a major demand, then, for good advice on how to improve an existing restaurant’s fortunes and on how to get a new restaurant started off on the right foot. The advice for both categories of restauranteurs is essentially the same, and so, we can address both groups simultaneously. Below we will look at six of the most important tips to follow in order to make your restaurant business succeed.
1. Begin With a Great Concept
Your restaurant needs to be based on a genuinely creative, unique, and bound-to-succeed idea. Everything else it is and does must revolve around that core concept, be it authentic country cooking, exotic cuisine from some little-known corner of the globe, or an indoor picnic place with glass, ant-farm wall dividers. You need a concept broad enough to expand on but focused enough to make your menu coherent.
2. Search Diligently for a Super-Star Chef
A restaurant can somehow manage to function, in an emergency situation, without almost every other player except the chef. While there are many other reasons customers spend time and money at a restaurant, they will not put up with poor food. You need to find someone who can cook the type of food items you have in mind to the point of perfection. Pay him/her well. Without the chef, your business will die.
3. Don’t Handicap Your Business With a Bad Location or Unappealing Decor
Some naive restauranteurs find themselves saying, “Location doesn’t matter because I will draw the crowd to where I am.” Very seldom, however, does that occur. Many customers wander in due to nothing more astounding than visibility and convenience. Make yourself easy to find and easy to get to. Go where the people are instead of trying to lure them to a less accessible location.
Closely related to the physical location of your building is the kind of atmosphere the interior of that building projects. Above all, the premises must be clean. Beyond that, it is a matter of design concepts. Put top quality into the floor, ceiling, and walls. Cover them with attractive wood, tile, stone, brick, etc. Add in appropriate overhead lighting at key sections of the dining hall. You may even want to consider installing a chandelier. Buy quality hospitality furniture from Adage Furniture and arrange it sensibly. You need to balance two things: giving your guests as much leg room and walking space as possible and fitting as many people in your restaurant as you can.
4. Manage Your Money Wisely
You only have so much capital to invest or re-invest in your business. Once you have spent it, it could be a significant wait until you are again able to embark on a major project. Budget using obvious over-estimates to ensure you do not go over budget and run out of cash. There may be an initial boom, but understand that the “honeymoon” will wear off, and the real test will be if you can make your establishment permanently popular. You need to retain an adequate cash reserve for emergencies, so pinch your pennies tightly and be far-sighted with the investments you do make.
The second half of managing your restaurant money wisely is remembering that you cannot afford to be cheap with the guests. You can get by for a while without that new piece of kitchen equipment. You can skimp on advertising if you must. What is non-negotiable is this: every guest who enters your doors and sits down to eat under your roof must be given the kind of experience that will quickly transform him into a regular customer. Greet new arrivals and wait on them as soon as possible so they don’t feel like they are being ignored. Do whatever it takes to enhance their experience, be it background music, live entertainment, interesting wall trinkets, complimentary desserts and small dishes sent direct from the chef, or an occasional free gift card. If your guests feel special, they will go out and spread the word, doing a large portion of your advertising for you.
5. Keep Learning, and Start Teaching
Seek advice from others more successful than yourself in the restaurant business. Learn from your experienced chefs, wait staff, and even clean-up crew. You never know what useful piece of information someone may possess that you don’t.
On the flip side of that, you need to ensure that your workers are learning too. That may mean teaching them things yourself. It may mean assigning the more experienced workers as mentors to the new recruits. One way or another, you will find yourself needing to pass on to others the mass of useful restaurant information you have gathered over the years.
6. Organize Everything, and Set Up Systems
A busy kitchen or dining hall will soon devolve into chaos unless everything and everyone is organized. Workers need to know exactly what is expected of them, and all restaurant equipment must have a proper place and be in it regularly. To get your whole crew fully organized, you will need to find ways to effectively communicate with them. An occasional workers’ meeting may be necessary to iron out a few bumps now and then, but you also need to keep things running smoothly day to day.
To do things efficiently, there almost always must be a system put in place. You cannot afford to do everything on the fly and risk disaster. There should be a system in place for kitchen clean-up, for scheduling changes, for stocking the freezer, and for everything else you do as a restaurant owner. Systems save time and money while avoiding confusion. If systems are not your area of expertise, you can find an employee who excels at them and get heavy input from him/her. So long as they are in place, it will not matter what source they came from.
Running a successful, growing restaurant is not nearly as easy to do as to dream about. Many have tried and failed, but that need not be your story. Putting a handful of simple tips into practice can do wonders for your establishment’s popularity, organization, and bottom line.