Restaurants aren’t an easy business to get started in. In fact, no part of the service industry is without its difficulties. But restaurants in particular have a lot of different cogs they need to work with. It’s not all about the food. You can have some of the best food in the world but unless your place looks appetising, no-one’s going to come to it. It can be as classy as you like, but if you’re unwilling to accommodate your customers, it might leave a bad taste in their mouth. The restaurant is as much about customer service and creating an environment as anything else. Being unable to understand these aspects is what cause so many of them to close in their first year.
Plan long before you open
So, you have a desire and the money to get a restaurant. You might even have your location picked out. That’s great. But don’t jump the gun and start preparing food just yet. You need to do plenty of planning before you open up. First, you need to think about what niche you’re going to fill. People need to know how your restaurant sticks out from the rest. This is why doing your research is so important. Find out more about the market and the area you’re moving into. Are you opening across from a much beloved dining spot? Are you opening the third Italian restaurant to grace the street? Providing something new and hitting a new area in the market can get you off to a much better start.
People don’t go out exclusively for the food. They also go out because they want to eat in a restaurant. On these surface, it’s about not having to cook. Underneath, people build up an idea of the kind of place they want to eat in. They want somewhere that’s attractive. Somewhere that makes them feel something. An atmosphere. A mood. Putting effort into the exterior visuals of your place is all about giving them that place they want to try. It’s about standing out amongst the rest of the street and making your mark. Curb appeal is a huge part of attracting whole new customers. It can also be the deciding factor that makes people want to return.
Make sure everyone knows their role
If you’ve never done it before, then you better learn it now. Restaurants are hard work. They can be flat-out hectic, in fact. Going in there without some sort of plan for your team will end in pure chaos. So make sure that everyone knows what they’re supposed to do. Don’t just think of them as jobs to fill. Think of all the tasks around the restaurant as roles. This means cleaning and maintaining the tables between customers. Who’s going to maintain the kitchen? Who’s going to be managing the floor? Make a list of all the different roles you need your staff to fulfil. Come together and plan so that no task is left undone.
Think about the dining experience
It’s more than just the looks of the place that makes the experience. You need to think about what could possibly make it any more unique and pleasant for the customer. If you’re set up in a particularly nice place, think of dining experiences in the outdoors. It could be a patio or bi-fold hardware by Debar leading to an outdoor dining area. It could be the themes that you have on your menus and napkins. It might even be the kind of music and lighting you have setting the mood for your diners. The dining experience is about all five senses. The food should take care of taste, but what are you going to do about the rest?
Sweat the details
Running a restaurant is all about service. When it comes to customer service, no detail is too small or too petty. From the tone of voice to the cleanliness of a fork handle. A well-designed menu is one of the details a lot of thought goes into. But think about going out to a restaurant yourself. What would put you off or dampen your experience? Customers in restaurants can be notoriously fickle. All the same, you need them to come back and to spread the word. If you’re unable or unwilling to work to complete customer satisfaction and put them first, you might not be right for the service industry. Similarly, make sure your staff are motivated and equipped to behave properly with the customers.