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5 things to focus on when opening your first small restaurant

5 things to focus on when opening your first small restaurant

Opening a small restaurant in the modern foodservice industry is challenging, but, if you get it right, one of the most rewarding career paths available.

As with any business, the secret sauce (if you’ll excuse the pun) lies in the planning you do before you open your doors for the first time.

This blog isn’t intended to be an A-Z guide for restaurant planning, but it will provide you with five things you absolutely must focus on and which should be elevated to the top of your to-do list.

1. The target market

Who would be your ideal customer?

If you spend time really getting under the skin of your target market, you’ll learn exactly how to pitch your restaurant. Knowing what they’re most likely to order is obviously vital, but it’s also important to think about the kind of ambiance they’d like and what is likely to float their boat design-wise.

Think about income levels, age, lifestyles and any other demographics that will help you create a restaurant that attracts as many people within your target market as possible.

2. The location

This is often the hardest task because you may not have the luxury of choosing from multiple potential locations for your new restaurant.

Even if you’re in that position, you’re probably still going to have one or two choices, and this is where you’ll need to again turn to that all-important target market. Are they the sort of people who enjoy discovering hidden gems, or is it more likely to be passing trade who want access to convenience dining?

You can do some old fashioned research too, by measuring footfall. A coffee or two and a few hours spare each week is all you’ll need, and while it might feel like a bit of a chore, you’ll quickly find yourself becoming fascinated by the volume of potential traffic on which you could capitalise.

3. The technology

You’ve picked a great time to open a new restaurant, principally because there’s so much fantastic technology available that will help you run an efficient, high-quality operation.

Pay particular attention to your POS system and the cooking technology. Depending on the type of eatery you’ll be running, you might also require accelerated cooking devices that enable you to deliver hot food at volume, so take that into account, too.

4. The menu

How fluid will your menu be? Is it likely to change regularly with the seasons, or are you looking to create something that will always be familiar to your target market?

New restaurateurs often make the mistake of creating a huge menu from the outset. Try and avoid this if you can, because you’ll invariably end up with a menu that you simply can’t deliver.

Start small and focus on the food you know you can deliver profitably. A small, quality menu that will hit all the right buttons with your diners is always better than a four-page culinary journey.

5. The staff

There’s no getting away from the fact that you’re choosing to open a business in an industry that has long lived with high staff turnover levels.

That’s fine, and it’s something you’ll have to learn to manage effectively, but it doesn’t make any difference to the fact that your team will be the beating heart of the operation.

Start recruiting as early as you can and stretch the wage bill sensibly if you discover shining stars during interviews – they’re the people you’ll want to hold onto for as long as possible, after all.

Wrapping up

There’s so much more that goes into opening a restaurant business, but start with our tips above, and you’ll be onto a very good thing indeed.

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