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4 Questions You Can’t Afford to Forget About When Starting A Restaurant

Well, you’ve had your great idea. Or perhaps it’s your lifelong dream. You want to open a restaurant! Maybe you’re an amazing cook and your friends have been telling you for years that you have to open a restaurant. Maybe it’s just something you’ve always wanted to do. Maybe you love baking so much you can’t envision doing anything else. Whatever brought you here, you have decided to get your restaurant business idea off the ground.

No doubt you’ve thought about the details of the food. Do you have reliable sources for your ingredients? Do you have the equipment you need – freezers, ovens, and other cooking equipment? Can you keep up with the probable demand? Can you make it fast enough to satisfy people, or do you need to make everything beforehand and keep it warm (or cold, depending on your situation)?

Then, of course, come the business details. Do you have a location to use? Will you need extra staff? What kind of hours will you be operating under? How long before opening will you need to start working?

These are, of course, extremely important questions. You can’t run your restaurant without asking them. However, there are some things you’ve probably overlooked in your haste to finally fulfill the restaurateur dream.

1. How are you going to get customers through the door?

Word of mouth is great and all, but unless your friends literally know everyone in your city and/or surrounding area, they’re not going to be able to single-handedly keep customers coming. Your food has to be delicious to keep people coming back, but the quality of your offerings have very little to do with getting people through the door initially. You’re going to need to make sure you’ve thought about ways to reach your desired audience – who is eating what you’re making? Those are the people you need to find. Sometimes that’s through advertising, sometimes it’s through social media, sometimes it’s through having someone stand outside dressed like a banana while waving a large banner. If you’re in it for the long haul, you might even be able to buckle down and succeed at waiting for word of mouth to draw people in. Just be sure you have people willing to spread the word.

2. Does this restaurant already exist here?

If you’re selling pizza, even if it’s the best pizza ever, you need to face the unfortunate truth that pizza restaurants already exist basically everywhere. That isn’t to say you’re going to fail; you just need to go about it in a different way.

If your business already exists, you need to make it your own. Make it look or sound different. Create a different vibe inside. Combine unusual flavors to entice people to come taste-test your food. Just make sure your restaurant is different enough to draw people in, or your potential customers are just going to keep dining at their current fave. The bottom line is that when people are hungry and casually looking for a place to eat, if something doesn’t pop out at them, they will inevitably default to a place they already know and love.

3. Can you cost-effectively keep up your current offerings?

Assuming an equilibrium in supply cost trends (which is, of course, completely unrealistic in and of itself), are you going to be able to sustainably continue your current menu and still make ends meet? Restaurants and other businesses in the hospitality industry often have very low margins just by nature. If you’re squeezing every last cent out of your profits to pay the rent and buy supplies, you’re never going to fully succeed. Make sure that what you’re making and selling can be cost effective for your patrons and for you. If not, it might already be time to re-think your strategy.

4. Are you prepared with an online presence?

It is 2022. That doesn’t mean you must unequivocally offer online ordering and reservations with bells and whistles. It does mean that you need to have some kind of online presence. A social media page, a website, or a Google My Business page at the very least will help you be recognized. It will also help your restaurant show up in searches like “food near me.”

Outside of brand recognition, there are other positives to an online presence. Many people now seek menu options online before ever setting foot in a restaurant. They already know the basics of what you’re offering. With that in mind, does your online menu really depict your restaurant food? A lot of restaurants seem to discount the online (and printed, for that matter) menu, but it is more important now than ever. Put a little extra time and effort into making sure it’s an accurate reflection of your business, and you won’t regret it.

Another thing to remember in regard to your online presence is that your online ordering needs to match what’s available in person. If your guests have to call or come in to get a special or to make requests on their orders that are semi-popular, then online ordering is not useful to them and they won’t use it. To make it the most valuable, those online offerings need to be the same as what they could get if they were standing at your counter or talking to a staff member on the phone.

You will also want to make sure you’re ready to help customers as quickly as possible, with as little interruption as possible. We can help with automating your phone to get your customers to what they’re looking for quickly and easily, without disrupting your staff to do it. Find out how here.

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