For many entrepreneurs, opening a restaurant is a lifelong dream. The experience of bringing your restaurant concept to fruition is deeply gratifying. Whether you are a new business owner or a seasoned restaurateur, a successful opening can chart the course for long-term profitability.
Use these six ingredients to cook up the perfect recipe for your restaurant opening.
1. The Best Talent
Select the right culinary talent and develop the right menu. Sometimes the executive chef is the inspiration behind the restaurant; other times the chef fulfills the restaurateur’s vision. Regardless, collaboration between the owner and the chef will ensure both parties are achieving the same goal: the restaurant’s overall vision and success.
Collaborate with your executive chef and consider featuring seasonal ingredients, which tend to be more cost-effective. Work directly and consistently with purveyors and farmers. By providing a steady flow of business to these vendors, you’ll often be able to negotiate lower prices.
Many celebrity chefs bring their fan following to the table, whereas lesser-known chefs are eager to earn their chops. If your menu isn’t backed by a well-known name, not to worry. This creates a great opportunity for the up-and-coming chef at the helm to make your restaurant exceptional.
2. The Right Support Staff
To market, to market. Hiring the right staff is much like going to the market—choose the best and brightest of the season. A Michelin-starred menu deserves a staff worthy of the same praise and recognition. Therefore, hire and train the right staff to carry out your vision.
According to a National Restaurant Association study, 80% of restaurant owners found their humble beginnings in entry-level hospitality positions. Understanding many of the various roles and demands can offer insight when hiring new employees.
3. Thorough Training
A well-trained staff is essential to your restaurant’s success. Both front- and back-of-house teams must work together to flawlessly execute your restaurant’s vision.
Ensure effective communication between your front- and back-of-house teams by selecting the right restaurant point of sale system. For example, QuickBooks POS powered by Revel Systems delivers a kitchen display that supports tableside, online and mobile ordering. You should also choose a system with open API customization, so you can streamline the user experience for both teams. QuickBooks POS has a clean interface, which makes it easy to train new employees, and the “Always On Mode” allows you to continue taking payments in the event of slow internet or a power outage.
4. A Soft Opening
Practice makes perfect, which is why it is crucial to work out all the kinks before your restaurant’s big debut. To ensure your staff is properly trained, host a soft opening (or series of soft-opening events) two to three weeks prior to the scheduled grand opening.
Effectively monitor your inventory levels in real-time to help anticipate your supply needs for the restaurant’s grand opening. This will also help determine which dishes are most popular and will allow you to make adjustments to your menu as necessary.
Soft openings can consist of abbreviated business hours without announcing the restaurant is officially open. Or it can consist of “friends and family preview nights,” which are exclusive dinner service events. Avoid inviting press and bloggers to the restaurant until the grand opening. You want them to experience your new restaurant at its best rather than its dress rehearsal.
5. Buzz-Worthy Press
Invite top-tier press to your grand opening to make sure your story is amplified. Notify the press a few weeks beforehand so they can start creating buzz and anticipation for the restaurant’s grand opening. You may do this with a press release or via previous business connections. Get your restaurant’s social media channels in gear too, so you can respond to questions and push out announcements as the event grows closer.
The influence of the press, as well as your own social media press, are powerful within the culinary community and can make or break a restaurant’s successful grand opening.
6. Customer Feedback
Customer feedback is extremely important. While some may view the turnout as a main indicator of the restaurant opening’s success, whether these clients return is a valuable indicator that you’ve created new clientele. The grand opening is your opportunity to convert otherwise one-time guests into regulars.
Provide incentives for customers to return after their first visit. For example, you can offer a 15% off coupon for their next visit or another incentive, such as a discounted dessert for writing a review (if allowed in your state). This will encourage them to come back and try the restaurant again in coming weeks and months.
Restaurant mortality rates have dropped significantly in recent years, giving a boost of confidence to new restaurateurs and business owners. If you have the right processes in place and can stage an impressive opening, you’ll have a better chance than others at success. For more tips on how to bring in customers to your new restaurant, check out our guide to local marketing.
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