After years of planning, you’ve finally done it—you’re about to open your own restaurant!
It’s a dream that many people have, but few bring to life. However, how can you be sure your restaurant is a success, with so many other bars, cafes, and restaurants in town?
From selecting your menu, developing an advertising strategy, to finding the right staff, it can be tough to get your new business off the ground.
Before you go any further, keep reading to learn ten top tips for how to open a restaurant.
1. The Secret to How to Open a Restaurant? Hard Work
When it comes to opening a restaurant, there’s no substitute for hard work. Expect to work long days (and nights), especially in the early days when you’re just opening and ironing out teething problems.
Only go into the restaurant business if you have a true passion for hospitality—otherwise, it’s easy to get burned out quickly.
2. Consider Your Location Carefully
Location is everything when it comes to your new business. When starting a business, one of the biggest considerations is the location.
Sure, it may seem like a good idea to open on the hippest street in town, but will those high rents cut massively into your profit? Is there already a lot of competition in that area?
Look for a location that you can afford, but also one that’s both accessible to foot traffic and has nearby parking. If you plan to offer a lot of takeout, make sure there’s an area just outside the restaurant where customers can pull up to pick up their meals.
3. Invest in an SEO-Optimized Website
In the competitive field of restaurants, about 17% close after the first year of opening. One way you can stop this from happening to your business is to ensure customers are finding you online.
Your restaurant needs a website, optimized for local SEO, allowing customers to find you when they search online for restaurants in the area. Yes, a custom website can be a big expense, but it will pay for itself with the traffic it brings in the door.
Also, claim your free profile on Google My Business, which can help you show up on Google maps in your community.
4. Offer a Loyalty Program to Customers
When you open a new business, you need to not only attract new customers but get them to come back again and again. A good way to do this is by starting a loyalty program.
Create an incentive for customers to come back, such as offering a free dish or a discount after they’ve visited a certain number of times. Everyone likes a bargain!
5. Don’t Neglect Social Media
When thinking of your restaurant name, see if you can also claim social media handles that match your name, especially on Facebook and Instagram.
You want to make it easy for customers to find you online, so this can help. Social media is essential to any restaurant, so get your accounts going even before you open.
Use social media to run promotional campaigns, tell followers about events or special dishes of the day, and connect with followers. You can also allow reviews, which helps build trust in your business.
6. Hire Staff with Care
The right staff can make or break your business. Take care when hiring staff, and look for honest, reliable workers who love customer service and the industry.
Every employee can be the key to a successful business, whether they’re waiting tables, restaurant cleaning, or working as a chef.
7. Make Your Menu Easy to Read
The menu is what makes a customer decide to dine in your business over another, so make sure it’s easy to understand and read.
Too many restaurants try to get creative and artsy with their menu fonts and design, but this can be confusing and make it hard for customers to read, especially if they have poor eyesight.
Categorize your dishes in a way that makes sense, and use a large, bold font that will be easy for customers to read. Make sure your menu is also available online, so customers can browse before arriving.
8. Network with Other Restaurant Owners
Sure, owning a restaurant can feel lonely sometimes, but there’s no reason not to connect with other restaurant owners!
Networking is one of the best ways to grow and improve any business, even restaurants. Attend industry events or pop in for a meal at another locally-owned restaurant in town.
You can share tips, suggestions, and ideas, and may even come up with a way to work together that will benefit you both.
9. Apply for a Liquor License Well Before Opening
If you plan on serving alcohol in your restaurant, you’ll probably need a liquor license. This allows you to legally sell alcohol through your business.
Apply for this well in advance of your proposed opening, as it can take months (sometimes years) to be processed by the local authorities.
10. Find the Right POS System
A POS, or point of sale, is a system restaurants use to enter orders and send them to the kitchen, take payments, and enter in drinks and merchandise purchases.
Small restaurants may make do with a cash register, but a POS system is more efficient and can help with accounting. There are quite a few options out there when it comes to POS, so research which would be best for the needs of your business so you make sure to purchase the right system for your needs.
Open Your Dream Restaurant Today
Opening a restaurant is a life-long dream for many, so make the most of your opportunity to create the business you’ve always wanted.
Now that you know how to open a restaurant, use the tips above to get your business off to the best possible start. With the right staff, a solid marketing plan, and a bit of hard work, you’ll start seeing customers coming in the door before you know it.
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