Thinking of opening a restaurant? You’ll be joining over 1 million existing establishments in the US, according to a 2020 report by the National Restaurant Association.
And while this report includes crucial information like the projected growth of the restaurant industry (expect over 17 million people to be employed by restaurants by 2030), it doesn’t explain why some of the most successful restaurants are significantly better off than others.
There’s no one-size-fits-all strategy for creating a thriving restaurant, but every flourishing cafe, eatery, and bistro have a few things in common.
Below we’ve included the essential traits of all successful restaurants.
Every good restaurant has a good menu. But the most successful restaurants in the world have menus that speak for themselves.
What menu will make your restaurant stand out from competitors? To answer that, you’ll have to define your ideal client base.
What will these people expect from a menu? What will pleasantly surprise them? The answers to these questions will help you formulate a unique and relevant menu.
Your location will also play a role in your menu design.
For instance, say you base your restaurant in Los Angeles or San Francisco. Both of these cities have large vegan populations, and many restaurants are expected to have several vegan options. If you don’t cater to these customers, your menu will be remembered for the wrong reasons.
The best menus often obtain ingredients from local and high-quality sources. A great restaurant will partner with local farmer’s markets or suppliers to get whole foods and find a trusted supplier for items that need to be imported or shipped.
Restaurants do well when they have waiters, bartenders, and managers meet who perform at a high level and care about the company’s goals.
All staff should care about providing the best customer experience possible through a positive attitude and fast service. Great staff will work hard to correct problems voiced by customers and track patterns that need to be corrected for the future.
Staff needs to be open to communication to foster a positive workplace culture and optimize workflow. The more in touch employees are with one another, the faster they can serve customers and manage problems as they arise.
An important part of workflow optimization is scheduling. Successful restaurants have enough staff to fill shifts without overworking anyone or providing too many workers for the level of customers present. To keep track of work schedules, a digital scheduling platform is often necessary.
Your restaurant’s break-even point is entirely dependent on your costs and revenue. Most restaurants break even around year 2 or 3 and don’t start making a profit until after year 3.
What’s going on during those first few years, and how do successful restaurants make it past the first few years and start to generate enough revenue to outweigh the costs?
The answer lies in understanding fixed and variable costs. Fixed costs like staff and overhead will remain relatively consistent. Variable costs like the amount of food consumed will change based on your popularity.
In the beginning, you’ll have one-time fixed costs like decorating your website, adding furniture, and paying for items like menus and cookware.
Top-grossing restaurants will budget for all of these costs before they open the restaurant and plan for the first few years to make up for these costs. The key is to price food at a high enough price so that it offsets your calculated costs without being so high that it deters customers.
Again, the type of restaurant you open will determine your costs. Opening a high-end restaurant will allow you to change higher prices, but you’ll also face higher expectations.
First, the most successful restaurants are designed for seating efficiency. They design an atmosphere that encourages diners to linger – ordering dessert and a few drinks more than they may have otherwise. However, they still serve food briskly to clear tables quickly if people are in a rush.
Secondly, a nice restaurant will have consistent decor throughout. Your restaurant furniture suppliers list should include companies that can offer enough variety to your furniture to meet your needs while maintaining a cohesive look.
Thriving restaurants also understand how to set a mood based on the given menu or time of day. At the bar, different lighting should be used than at more private tables located in the back of the restaurant. Lighting should also be adjusted as the day goes on to create a more intimate feel at night.
Most importantly, successful restaurants base their design on the image they’re trying to create. Upscale restaurants should have dim lights, cushioned seating, and high-quality cutlery. A restaurant that bases its food on convenience should use bright colors and portable packaging.
The location of your restaurant plays a huge role in its success. You need to choose an area that attracts people of your target demographic while also being an inviting option to different customers.
When finding a location, it’s key to find balance. A location with high traffic will likely generate more organic customers, but will often come with higher rent costs and more local competition. Restaurants located in less busy locations will have less competition but maybe too out of the way for many customers.
Look at the existing area when selecting your location to see if the environment is already suited to your restaurant. For instance, if you’re looking to open a health restaurant, a spot near yoga studios and a gym will be an ideal choice.
Some restaurants may be so popular that they don’t social media to attract more customers. However, many successful restaurants – especially newer ones that are still building their reputation – understand the importance of establishing an online presence.
3 in 4 customers use Facebook before making a restaurant or retail decision. With just a few high-quality pictures of your menu uploaded to a social media account, you could generate dozens more customers each day and thousands more views.
Your online presence also provides a way for you to connect with customers and be transparent about your dishes. Now more than ever, customers want to know where their food is coming from and how it is prepared.
With social media, you can include your visitors in the process of preparing your meals, which will both forge a relationship and demonstrate your commitment to quality.
Scalable Tech Solutions
The most profitable restaurants are future-oriented because they understand that continuous growth is the only way to ensure the success of a business.
For a restaurant to grow, keep up with changing times, and manage increased demand, it needs to integrate scalable technology solutions into its workplace.
Think of cloud-based software that allows managers to keep track of supplies and order new inventory in real-time. Other technologies to consider are digital booking options and online ordering systems so staff can keep on top of orders and menu changes.
If you operate a quick-service restaurant, adding a touchscreen POS terminal will simplify the order-taking process and allow guests to follow along as they place an order. Higher-end restaurants could provide tablets r similar tools to waitstaff so they can take and modify orders quickly.
It takes years to build a positive reputation and only a few negative customer experiences to shatter it. How you manage and respond to customer feedback is crucial to the success of your restaurant.
Depending on your restaurant, you may want to encourage customers to leave feedback. More casual restaurants will be able to do this by asking customers at the end of a meal or potentially offering an incentive. Upscale restaurants should avoid this and instead focus on the quality of service.
Create a platform for customers to leave feedback. A Google My Business profile is a convenient outlet for both you and your customers.
Here, you can upload information about your restaurant, including location, pictures, hours, and menu options. Users can leave reviews directly under this listing, allowing customers to view them and you to manage them all from one convenient location.
Even if your restaurant is doing well, it’s important to regularly monitor customer reviews to manage your reputation and ensure all visitors have a positive experience.
The Most Successful Restaurants and More
Creating a restaurant is always a risk, but the most successful restaurants prove that with the right strategy, you can create a thriving restaurant within only a few years.
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Photo by Life Of Pix