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.