If you’ve decided to open a restaurant, there are a lot of things you’ve probably thought a lot about. Hopefully, some of these include concept, location, recipes, vendors, location, decor, and...location. If any of these elements have not been a big part of your planning, you should probably take a step back and figure them out before you move forward. Opening a restaurant is expensive, both in terms of time and money. You want to make sure that you get it right so that your new business can succeed.
While the elements listed above tend to be front and center in the mind of a potential restaurateur, there are other things that may not cross your worried and harried mind until it’s too late. We’ve put together a list of 5 undervalued or overlooked elements to opening your own restaurant.
1. A Signature Dish
Having a signature dish isn’t something a lot of people talk about, but it’s definitely something worth thinking about. It doesn’t matter what it is, but you should have something that is exceptional on your menu. This is the item that makes people say, “Hey, let’s go to that one restaurant, they have the best ________________ !” In the age of social media, you may think that word of mouth is dead, but that’s not true. Word of mouth is alive and well, and it’s found a comfortable home online. Social media can make or break a businesses these days. Finding your signature dish and encouraging your customers to post or tweet about it can make a huge difference to your success.
There’s a lot to consider when deciding on your pricing. You’re opening a restaurant to make money, and the profit margin on restaurants is lower than in many industries. That means your prices have to be exactly right—like Goldilocks right. Your prices have to be high enough to cover your overhead with a little left over at the end of the day, but they can’t be so high that people won’t be willing to pay them. The all-important location plays into this one, too. If you want to open a fancy steak and seafood restaurant, you don’t locate it in a low-income area.
3. Cash Reserves
Most people seriously underestimate the amount of money they should have in reserve when they open a new business. The sad truth is, it takes time for a restaurant to really find its stride. To be quite frank, you should probably have enough money in reserve to run your restaurant without any monetary inflow for several months to a year. Equipment breaks, customer bases take time to establish, and disasters happen. A good reserve lets you stay open despite early setbacks.
4. Restaurant Computer Systems
If you really want to survive, a restaurant computer system can really make a difference. They represent a big initial investment, but they tend to be worth it. These systems are designed to help you with everything from ordering and receiving to employee data. They can even help you track sales volume and food waste. A good restaurant computer system can save you a lot of time and hassle when it comes to the large quantity of paperwork it takes to run a successful restaurant.
5. Having a “Cold Open”
Face it, it’s going to take a few days or weeks for everything to start running smoothly. A cold open gives you the chance to work out the kinks before your Grand Opening. Unfortunately, the only way to find out if your equipment works right is to use it. A cold open gives you the time to find things that aren’t working right and fix them. It also gives you a chance to make sure your new staff gets the chance to learn how to work as a team. People that come in during a cold open expect things to be a little rocky, so it’s okay when everything doesn’t go perfectly.
We’re not going to lie to you, opening a new restaurant isn’t going to be easy. However, we hope that these tips help you to be successful in doing so. Follow your dream, and make it worth the time and money spent.