Tips For Success In The Restaurant Industry

Career Entrepreneurialism

If you are starting a restaurant or perhaps purchasing an already established one, be prepared for a daunting journey. The restaurant industry is perhaps one of the hardest to become profitable in, and even then, it is hard to stay profitable. Many people opt to purchase a franchise or chain restaurant, simply because the name is likely to attract customers.

They say that if you can make it for three years, you will be successful. The longer that your restaurant is around, the more likely people are to come in for a bit to eat. Once the novelty of being the “new kid on the block” has passed, your restaurant will have to employ typical marketing techniques to bring in paying customers. You will also have to deal with low volume, low revenue, and low-turnaround when you first open.

Unless you become a cult classic the day that you open, you’re going to need some help to get by. Suzanne Dale, owner of Jacqueline Suzanne’s Bistro, offers the following advice:

  • Buy a couch. Put a couch in your office, because when you first open you will be sleeping at your restaurant. You will be working for so long that it may seem like too much effort to find your way home. Create an area where you can rest and gather yourself for a few minutes every day.
  • Learn to deal with the unexpected. Staff quitting, your chef calling in sick or one of your tables suddenly breaking – all of these things will happen to you, so be prepared to deal with them.
  • Become a jack of all trades. Learn to cook, fix furniture, and serve customers, as you will have to do them all at some point. You can expect to be the host, the bartender, the chef, the sous chef, the server, and the bus boy. When you first open, you may not have the resources to hire all of the staff, including backup staff, that you need to get by comfortably.
  • Create your signature. If you make damn good martini’s, advertise that to your customers. Becoming known for something will attract people to your restaurant just to experience it.
  • Trust yourself. Learn to trust that you will be able to deal with the problems as they arise, and that your restaurant is a desirably destination for many. As you begin to see return customers, you will start to realize that they are enjoying your restaurant. Essentially, your hard work is paying off.
  • Smile. Always be positive. This will reflect to your staff and your customers, and the resulting atmosphere is empowering. You can handle anything if you put your mind to it.

12 thoughts on “Tips For Success In The Restaurant Industry

  1. Make a system for each function that provides the end result and “experience” for the customer.
    I would not want to see something being completely based on the person. If you make it a system you can just plug someone into it.
    I have seen alot of people use checklists as the starting point for each spot. Learning and documenting what works and does not on the fly.
    Food for thought. . .

  2. Great post John!
    The restaurant industry looks so stressful, the hours can get really terrible. The stress on the job is also one of the worst, not for me

  3. This was helpful. I’m a 23 year old living in south georgia and I am really considering going into the resturaunt business. Although first I want to attend culinary school. Cooking is my passion and something I love to do. So even tho I more than likely wont make it owning my own resturaunt; that is the very thing I aspire to do. But even so I would be perfectly happy being the chef in someone else’s resturaunt.

  4. I was about to open a restaurant After some research and talking to people, I just understood it’s not my thing – too much trouble with very thin profit in my area, unless I start a franchising.

  5. Oh boy I know some friends in the restaurant industry and it’s not easy. It’s a bold move for you guys to talk about this on your blog as well! Restaurant/Resort management is a whole new venue.

  6. You’re right. The restaurant business is one of the toughest cookies to crack, especially here in Vancouver where there are new and exciting places to eat opening on a near daily basis. You’ll probably get the initial hype, but that quickly falls off when the new kid on the block arrives with something else.

  7. Success in this industry is not easy. My mum has a small place, but we don’t call it restaurant here, she has good knowledge about industry but, capital is not enough to enter it.

  8. I can vouch for all of these tips personally, I’ve been in every position of the restaurant business, and a few of them at the smae time!!! I was reading the post from today about stressful jobs, the restaurant business is one of the most stressful, emotionally, psychologically and physically. There was a study done many years ago and it ranked just below ‘brain surgeon’ actually for the stress level. The stress was one the reasons I left the business, that and the rampant nepotism, and all the ass-kissing that got you farther than actual talent did…
    In the restaurant business ytou need to create a niche and develop it, you need to perfect it actually if you want to survive and thrive… hell I could write a whole post about this stuff actually….

  9. My uncle had owned and operated his own restaurant business and he said it was really busy and stressful.

  10. My other has owned a restaurant business for about a year now…in belton, south carolina…(if you ever wanta shoot by but some of these tips make sense and I can definitely relate because I experienced it with her first hand.

  11. I just started working as a server at a new restaurant. This can be a very rewarding job but how do you deal with the tempers of the owner/manager/chef? They make this job very stressful and sometimes unprofessional with the “F” word flying out of their mouths with every sentence! I know customers are bound to hear this! I am a firm believer that if the people who are running the show are going to freak out and act this way, it is only going to set a bad example for the other workers and cause them unnecessary stress!

  12. I like your tips and incite about owning your own restaurant. I don’t own my own restaurant but I worked for a couple of restaurants that were brand new and saw what the owners went threw. I myself would love to own my own restaurant some day if I could get the money together. One of the restuarants closed down this year because they were not making enough to keep the doors open after being open 3 years. The other restaurant is still open.
    Check out my blog

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