Opening a new restaurant business is easy. Keeping it alive and thriving is the challenge. If you are the owner of a new restaurant or if you are thinking of opening a new food business, this one is for you. There are a few common traps for restaurants of all stature and status. Even Gordon Ramsey had to shut down one of his endeavors before they even broke even. So, even the best-seasoned chefs and food entrepreneurs are not above these common traps that try to take control of restaurant businesses.
Is there is secret sauce to the success?
The idea is to balance sales with costs, so the quality of the products do not decline. Your patrons will not be reluctant to splurge on dinner at least once a month at your establishment. One of the growing trends in the industry is an increased focus on the quality of ingredients used. You can especially see this in the small indie restaurants, out-of-home eateries, and bistros in London. Be it vegan cuisine or entirely organically sourced meals, the quality is of prime importance in these restaurants.
A guide to survival in the restaurant business
What is your focus?
Some restaurant chains in downtown New York sell the best kebabs and shawarma rolls you will ever taste. These are not costly. Hygiene is not their strong suit. However, their sales are high. They want to provide comfort food for the common people who are getting off work and who want to grab a bite before they go home and hit the hay.
There are others like Maze Grill Park Walk and Blumenthal’s The Fat Duck, which provide experimental, gourmet food that satisfies all your senses, in all the ways possible. They offer a dining experience, and that experience comes at a high price.
What you are trying to sell and whom you are trying to sell it to, determine who you are. Invest in products that are relevant to your business. If you want to open a 24*7 restaurant, buying foiegras and caviar may not be a good investment at all. You will need to focus on what you want to sell and what kind of prices you want to keep so that it appeals to your buyers.
Tell people what you are selling
If you are selling out of your home or if you are located in a more or less obscure region of the city, people will have a hard time discovering you. You need to keep your social media game strong. Social networking is one of the best ways to reach out to people organically. Forget ads and boosting posts for a while. Simply keep posting enticing pictures of what your kitchen is making every day. Include pictures of your kitchen, seating, and view. Organize online campaigns with rewards for winners or highest commenters.
Post your menu and prices online. Listen to what your target audience is saying. If you cannot grab enough attention, try multiple platforms. You can even seek help from reviewers and social media celebrities to publish your posts. It works like magic. People love to know what their social icons are eating and where they are going. Create unique content to grab eyeballs. It will pay off in the real world.
Innovate as much as you can
You may have a business role model, but research shows that over 80% of the business have failed because they tried to mimic other companies instead of forging their own paths. Come up with innovative ideas for customer interaction, delivery, menu cards and contests for your consumers. Even loyalty discounts and promotional offers can work miracles if you are running out of new ideas. An innovative idea does not have to be a celebratory one, something simple yet fresh can work too. Even Pizza Hut does it quite well with their customer birthday bonanzas.
Now, that is a piece of advice not many get to hear in the restaurant business. Many new business owners start to splurge in new décor, new products, and machinery once the initial sell surge plateaus off. It is a huge mistake. You must refrain from spending just because you see a dip in the sales graph. Sometimes, a drop in the sales is a standard process. If your products are mostly seasonal, you have good reason to see that dip. Try working with new raw ingredients. Introduce a new restaurant classic and dedicate more time into deciphering what was initially driving the traffic. Reaching out to your old customers via Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and email also helps significantly.
Look out for local events
Whether it is St Patrick's Day or Valentine's Day, your target should be to get those tables booked. Look for festivals that bring in more people from out of the city as well. If possible, do multiple land-based marketing campaigns, distribute flyers with discount coupons on them and put up stalls in or near the event ground to boost sales immediately. Introduce event specific food by modifying your regular platters a little. Offer your classic best sellers at a discount (make sure you are not running at a loss) just for the event participants.
These tricks have been a part of every restaurant owner's handbook for decades, yet they never run out of mojo. Hiring a professional hospitality consultant can cost you a considerable amount of money, which may seem like an added expense. However, they have many new tricks up their sleeve that will help you put your business back on track.