You have purchased your first restaurant. Your restaurant concept is clear, the business plan and startup finances are sorted, the restaurant name has been decided, and now, following intense competitor research, you have the perfect location for it too. But where do you take opening a restaurant from here?
Of course, opening a restaurant is a complex and painstaking task. But, if done well, the moment of opening a restaurant can also be one of incredible excitement and exhilaration.
Before you get to that state of enthusiasm though, let us bring you back down to earth. There are still a few steps to take before you are ready for launch. We are going to take you through 10 important next steps that are vital to opening a restaurant and making it a success:
1. Define your menu
The choices you make when defining your menu will determine a huge number of actions that follow. Before opening a restaurant you will have already decided upon the style cuisine you intend to present to your customers. You may even have a good idea about the type of dishes you want to serve and the beverages you plan to serve alongside them.
We all want to be unique, and your menu’s uniqueness will be one of the main things people come for. However, do not forego the science of menu creation. No matter how unique your menu, it is menu engineering as a science that upholds your menu’s success. It involves costing your menu, and understanding how the quality of ingredients and the complexity of your dish will impact on your overall profit forecasts. It also entails designing and then testing your menu to make sure you have got it right.
When opening a restaurant make sure you get this step right because everything revolves around your food offering. A successful menu will bring you far in the restaurant industry. If necessary, our Venners consultants, who are industry experts, can help you define your menu and get it right first time. Feel free to give us a call on 01279 620820 if you need help.
2. Select your suppliers
Partnering with the right suppliers is key to ensuring your menu costings stay on track. In fact, suppliers can really be the component that determines the make or break of opening a restaurant. They hugely influence food safety management as well as the process management of the restaurant they supply to.
The negotiation of discounts on bulk purchases and the analysis of margins will be key to determining who you partner with. Do not forget to also do a proper quality check on any supplies before you set up any agreement. Getting in with the right suppliers early will spare you a lot of headaches in the future – and hopefully money too!
3. Choose your equipment
When refurbishing your restaurant venue there is a lot to consider. As much as your restaurant’s décor will determine the type of customers it attracts; and the layout of your restaurant determines a convenient workflow; kitting your restaurant with the right equipment is the key to your food operation and to your ability to deliver what you have set out to do.
Choosing the best equipment means considering your menu, your kitchen space, your anticipated ordering quantities at any one time, health & safety and fire safety requirements and regulations. Particularly health & safety and fire safety are often overlooked when it comes to purchasing equipment for opening a restaurant. There could not be a worse mistake. The safety of your venue, your staff and your customers should always take top priority. Getting an expert opinion on these matters is certainly worth the hassle and the money.
There is of course other equipment your venue will need to be kitted out with. Opening a restaurant and streamlining restaurant operations means choosing the right EPos system too. A good EPos system will give you exactly what you need: visibility, accountability and great functionality when dealing with customers. It also sets you up for simpler stocktaking capacity later down the line.
4. Be legally covered
Rule number one of looking into the legalities of opening a restaurant is to ‘stay on the safe side’.
You have determined the key details of your restaurant’s food and beverage offer and are ready to start ticking all the legal boxes. Go through the below list to apply for the correct licenses, insurance and certificates you will need for opening a restaurant venue.
Before applying for certain licenses it can be a good idea to get some independent advice. Consultants can provide incredibly specific and helpful advice on how to begin your restaurant journey as a top player. With regards to health & safety, fire safety and food hygiene our consultants can audit and prepare you for all legal requirements.
- Alcohol license
- PRS and a PPL for Music license
- TV license
- Public Liability Insurance
- Food premises approval
- Food Hygiene Certificate
- Health & Safety certificate
5. Stock up
The process of stock ordering can be a difficult thing to get right. When opening a restaurant the first order can always be a bit of a hit and miss. The annoying thing is that it sets the precedent for all your next orders and can create quite a bit of chaos if not thoroughly thought through.
Opening a restaurant with the right stock quantities will help keep tight control of stocktaking procedures going forward. It may even be worth getting independent stocktakers involved at this early stage so they can collect and analyse important data and help with an improvement strategy right from the get go. You would be amazed to see how much GP restaurant owners and operators lose out on by not completing effective stocktaking. Begin well to end well.
6. Cherry-pick the right people
Opening a restaurant is the beginning of your journey. The people you have working for you will be the ones who carry that journey on. They are the face of your restaurant.
Your business plan should already have outlined the type of staff you need to run your restaurant. But when speaking to potential candidates, ask yourself:
- Are they capable?
- Are they reliable?
- Are they as passionate about your restaurant as you are?
If your answer to all three of these questions is a solid yes, then you are on to a winner.
Set the standard high so that right from the offset your staff know they are accountable and expected to deliver. Customer service should be a natural attribute of any individual who represents your restaurant.
No matter how amazing your food tastes, how groovy your music is, or how beautiful your restaurant looks, your employees are the ones who create an ambience and experience that will be remembered far beyond anything. Your chosen manager in particular will set that tone. Make sure you pick wisely.
7. Train your staff
As mentioned before, make sure you set a high standard for your employees right from the get go. If you imprint on them the right working processes and methods from the start, you will be much less likely to encounter serious issues with health & safety and food safety in the future. Inductions on machinery, stock management training, food handling, food hygiene and health & safety courses are all worthwhile investments when opening a restaurant.
The sad reality is that many entrepreneurs do not see the benefit in investing in training at this early stage. They have already invested huge amounts of money on lease agreements, licenses, etc. And to their point, costs just never seem to end.
It is true that you may not necessarily notice an immediate return on investment from training staff. Nonetheless you can be guaranteed that if you do not train your staff properly, you will most likely be forced to face the detrimental effects of unhappy staff and unhappy customers.
8. Plan your workflow procedures
When opening a restaurant and preparing for trade many restaurant owners forget the very important step of planning their restaurant’s workflow procedures. It is easy to think that all things concerning staff protocols and controls will fall into place as and when they need to. But here are a few points as food for thought. Preventing theft, bad hygiene and whistle blowing will keep you safe from loss prevention, fines and reputational risks.
Setting up strict workflow procedures is aimed to minimise the potential for staff stealing, or for them to make huge blunders relating to customer service, or food safety issues. Firm escalation plans regarding public relations, suspected stealing, or any other concerns your staff may have to deal with, are necessary to protect your business and its employees.
Employee fraud, for example, is a highly common occurrence in the hospitality sector. A KPMG fraud survey found that 75 percent of the 459 responding organisations experienced some form of fraud during the prior 12 month period and most employee theft is never discovered. Prepared protocols for dealing with staff members who are suspected of regular stealing will help you deal with the issue effectively and quickly. The additional knowledge that Venners consultants are available at your beck and call to do an observational audit to collect evidence is handy information that is easy to work into your escalation process.
9. Continue marketing
Marketing really starts from the moment the idea of opening a restaurant comes to you. Getting people on board early will spread the word quicker than you would expect; and nothing is a more powerful tool than word of mouth marketing.
Marketing is the thing that portrays your restaurant’s personality. It is entrenched in your restaurant brand, work culture, as well as in the way you reach out to your customers and potential customers. Your business plan should already have outlined the type of marketing strategy you intend to roll out. Do make sure you consider all channels available to you as you analyse what marketing elements are working for your restaurant.
The time of opening a restaurant is possibly one of the greatest marketing moments you will be presented with. Launching your business with a bang should become your very first marketing campaign if you have not already run one before. Giving marketing a real place in your business will help you get on the road to success.
10. Keep your books in order
Running around like a headless chicken is a bit of a given when opening a restaurant. All the more reason for you to set aside time to keep those books in order. Train your management employees to keep a close check on everything. It will save you a huge amount of time in the future and will help you track your own success.
Opening a restaurant requires hiring the right accountancy and bookkeeping firm or software to support you in your financial and operational endeavours. Planning bookkeeping and accounting into your diary regularly (at least once a week) will be a key way in keeping an eye on your business’ needs for development and improvement. It is well worth the effort. Good preparations and research before opening a restaurant are vital to the success of your operation. And why panic about opening a restaurant when there is so much support available to you across the board?
The most important thing is to make sure you have everything covered so as not to get overwhelmed when it really matters the most: when the customers start streaming in. We would love to hear about your plans for a new restaurant. Wishing you the very best and please do give us a call on 01279 620820 if you need any help in making your restaurant a success.
For more useful tips on opening a restaurant see 126 Expert Ideas For Your Restaurant Business Plan.