No matter how prepared you think you are for opening your first restaurant, you probably will be surprised at how many things you didn’t plan for. If you’ve gotten your business registered, found a location, and are getting ready for opening day, here are some tips to think about before you open those doors to the public.
- Calculate your costs carefully.
Likely, you’ve thought about the meat, fruits, vegetables, and other main ingredients for your business. Have you considered extra condiments? Garnishes? Frosting? Often, the little things can add up unexpectedly, and you may not be prepared for what happens when they do. Think about how likely it is you’ll need each ingredient, what customers might request, and how much each costs in the big scheme of things, because you’ll want to factor all of that into your prices before you let customers in. Hiking prices when you realize you forgot to add in the cost of mustard is not going to make your customers happy, and that’s not something you want to do when you’re just getting started.
- Make a meticulous business plan.
The best way to find success in your restaurant is to be ready for all of the details of running a business. Make an employee schedule where everyone can see it. Block off time for ordering and maintenance. Remember to reserve time for cleaning and upkeep (this often gets forgotten and tossed off as something that could be done in a few minutes at the end of closing, but that is, in fact, not the case).
However, your perfect business plan is going to need changing. Depending on what type of food you are selling, your customers might have different needs and wants than what you planned for. There’s nothing wrong with this; having a good business plan that you can tweak as needed is a great first step. In fact, changes can happen well before you open your doors, such as when you discover your expected food source is unavailable, or your preferred location is suddenly pulled out from under you and you have to start over. Just know that every good business plan is updated with the times, and you’ll want to be prepared for that reality.
- Plan for double the hours you think you need.
Even if you’re meticulous about your business plan, there are going to be things that pop up that you need to be ready for. Equipment maintenance and filling in for employees who are sick means you aren’t spending that time balancing books and ordering food, which in turn means those activities have to be handled another time. Are you ready to put in a full shift doing the office work while your restaurant is closed?
- Learn all of the ropes.
If you’re coming from a food-industry career already, it’s likely that you know your way around a commercial kitchen. You may have answered phones, waited tables, greeted customers and taken reservations. Perhaps you were even a chef. Those are incredibly valuable skills to have when you’re opening your own restaurant, but they’re not enough. You’ll also need to know how to manage employees, handle equipment, balance a budget, apply for loans, pay bills, register for a business license, get permits, deal with unexpected crises, advertise, and more. On the other hand, if you’re coming from a purely management perspective, you also need to know what your employees are experiencing and how best to help them, whether they’re front- or back-of-house. You’ll need to understand how to deal with both angry and happy customers, take phone calls, implement a reservation or waitlist system, take or deny special requests, wash the dishes, clean the tables and floors, make and plate an entree, serve, and
- Make sure you have people you trust around you.
Last but definitely not least, you’re going to burn yourself out really quickly if you try to handle everything on your own, or, worse, if you hire someone and are constantly checking up on them because you don’t fully trust them to do their jobs well. That’s exhausting. Instead, surround yourself with a few competent people that you greatly trust, then treat them like they’re your family. The better you treat them, the more likely they are to do a good job for you, and you’ll be able to maintain your sanity while you work through your own duties as owner.
If you decide you need some help handling an influx of phone calls, Reachify is perfect for you. Schedule a demo here.