Most people who go into the restaurant business do so because of a love of food, drink, and the life-enhancing pleasures of a civilized dining experience. However, no matter how excellent the output of the kitchen, this alone will not be enough to turn a restaurant into a thriving, profitable business. What else needs to be considered?
Investment in Staff
Good staff are the backbone of any successful business. From the head chef to the dishwasher, it pays to invest in staff who will work toward the common goal of delivering an amazing dining experience. Of course, this means paying decent wages, but it also means making your business a comfortable and attractive place to work. Content staff who feel valued provide excellent service, leading to happy customers and higher profits.
Investment in Equipment
Good staff also need to be well equipped to perform at their best. While there’s no reason to fit out the kitchen with every gadget and gizmo on the market, the essential tools must be of the highest quality if the kitchen is to deliver great results.
The same applies to the front of house operation. An efficient POS system, for example, will certainly make the servers’ jobs easier, but will also convey a good impression to customers when the ordering and payment experience is seamless.
When investing in equipment, speak to your staff and find out which tools and supplies will make their jobs easier, rather than only buying those you think they’ll need.
Focus and Specialize
Although it’s great to have a varied menu with choices that appeal to almost everyone, few things make the knowledgeable food lover’s heart sink like a list of dishes from all corners of the world, seemingly sharing no connection or theme. Can a kitchen be trusted to turn out perfect pizza alongside superb sushi? Can the ingredients possibly be the freshest when they’re covering such a wide range of cooking styles?
Whether you stick to a particular national cuisine or a regional variant, or focus on a certain concept or range of ingredients, specializing will enable your kitchen to hone their skills and perfect their art, while also rationalizing the range of ingredients needed. It will also make it much easier to forge a reputation in your local community.
Serving food of high quality isn’t always enough to attract customers, especially in the early days of a restaurant before word of mouth has had time to build momentum. If you’re operating in a saturated market place, such as running a pizza shop in a busy city, what do you offer that sets you apart from the competition?
One example could be cooking your pizza in a genuine, traditional wood-fired oven imported from Italy, or by making a virtue out of using only the most authentic ingredients sourced from the slopes of Mt. Vesuvius. Whatever you decide, you need to provide as much originality as possible from around which your restuarants reputation can form.
Watch the Competition
Even though your restaurant should offer something eye-catching and unique, that doesn’t mean you should ignore your competition. No matter how exceptional your offering, you can’t afford to be left behind in either the quality or value stakes, so always keep a close eye on other restaurants in your neighborhood.
Value, Not Price
And speaking of value, it’s a classic mistake to confuse value with the price. Running a restaurant is a tough business and margins are tight. Shaving your prices to the bone to attract more customers makes for a precarious business model, so look to add value in other ways. Providing free bread baskets or drink top-ups, for example, may cost you less than a straight reduction in prices, but will leave the customer feeling equally happy with the value they’ve received.
Be Family Friendly, or Not
There’s a place in the restaurant world both for relaxed, family-friendly eateries and for more formal shrines to fine dining, but it’s difficult to do both well. If you choose to welcome children, it’s best to do so with enthusiasm, or not do it at all. Consider offering either a separate menu for kids or even better, be happy to provide smaller portions of any dish on the menu, with the flexibility to tweak the ingredients to suit particular younger tastes.
Also think about how you can help keep your younger customers entertained for the sake of good behavior, such as setting aside a play area or keeping a stock of coloring materials. Be somewhat understanding and forgiving toward the disruption children can cause, but at the same time remember that you’re running a restaurant that welcomes kids, and not a kindergarten that serves unusually good food.
Spruce Things Up
It’s not only the cooking ingredients that need to be fresh in a successful restaurant. Giving the dining room a lick of paint now and then will keep the place looking bright and clean, all the better to encourage customers to return. And if the atmosphere is getting stale, don’t be afraid to embark on a refurbishment. It doesn’t need to involve a major addition or be overly costly, but keeping the environment feeling fresh will set the tone for an enjoyable and memorable meal.
It’s a sad, shocking, but unfortunately all-too-true fact that around 80% of restaurants fail within their first five years. Some of this high closure rate is because of the built in unpredictability of the hospitality trade. But often times the failure can be the result of getting some of the small but vital aspects of the restaurant business wrong. Following these tips will help ensure your restaurant stays profitable, popular, and successful for years to come!