So, you think you have a good idea for a restaurant business? If so, you are in good company. A lot of people think they can make it as a restaurateur, but the reality is that this is a cutthroat industry. It’ll chew you up and spit you out faster than a diner who finds someone else’s hair in their burger.
And while those that make it often get some great accolades, all of them will tell you that this is one tough way to earn a living. It’s certainly not for everyone, and there is a dark side involved which you have to be aware of. That said, it’s certainly a field that people are born to take on – and if you are that kind of personality, there are a few other things you should know before you get started.
Pricing is everything
One thing that every diner wants is value. The people that are happy with a two dollar chilli dog are just as happy as the people who pay hundreds to sample a Michelin star menu. As long as customers think they have been provided appropriate service for the money they spend they will return. However, as you can imagine this can cause many issues, especially when you are pricing your offering. On the one hand you might want to consider undercutting the competition to win business. But on the other you have the cost of labor, uniforms, power, rent and linen – not to mention the ingredients. Work out exactly what you need to meet your obligations and market desires – and stick to it.
The operational aspect
A lot of first-time restaurateurs get carried away with the front-of-house glamor and glitz of the restaurant business. But behind the scenes there is a lot more to consider. Hygiene regulations are key to everything, of course, but you also need to think about sourcing furniture and organizing everything from buying kitchen equipment through to restaurant AC repair and servicing. There is almost no glamor behind the scenes when it comes to catering, and that includes potential staff issues. And don’t even get us started on food truck struggles or food delivery margins.
Employees are the beating heart of the kitchen and restaurant. But the catering industry has a terrible reputation for staff turnover, low pay and extreme demands. There is a lot of pressure and long hours involved and many workers – who are almost always young and inexperienced – tend to cut loose a little hard on a regular basis. Be aware that the best restaurants keep hold of their best staff, and they have to create an environment that promotes that. Good pay, good training, and opportunities to progress are all essential if you want to keep the quality of employee interested – and out of trouble.
Finally, who you choose as chef will have a huge impact in your chances of restaurant success. Between you, your concept and vision will sustain you for the long-term future, so it’s essential that you can get on and trust each other in a professional sense. Almost three quarters of all businesses fail within 3-5 years, and unless you can get that concept right from the off, it’s going to be tough to avoid becoming a statistic. Good luck!