Restaurant owner standing in restaurant

10 Things to Do Before Opening a Restaurant

Many people dream of owning their own restaurant, but the restaurant business is tough. There is much to be done to prepare to open a business, let alone a restaurant. Here are 10 things you should do before opening a restaurant to ensure your business runs smoothly. 

  1. Consider opening a franchise.
    When it comes to owning a restaurant, it can be tricky to introduce a new restaurant people have never heard of before. Franchises give you the chance to open a restaurant people are already familiar with. You also get support and pre-designed marketing materials from the franchising company, saving you the time and trouble of designing your own. In addition, you’re likely to get customers who love the other restaurant locations. Subway is a good example of a franchise.
  2. Choose the right market.
    Some restaurants do better in small towns while others may need a more populous city to thrive. Do research and figure out what your city needs and where you can place your restaurant. Avoid locating your restaurant in an area that already has plenty of the same type of restaurant. For example, you wouldn’t open a deli next to two other well-known delis, would you?
  3. Find a good location.
    The location is important. Determine how far people are willing to travel in order to get your product. If most of your customers are in the city, but you’re outside the city, will anyone know you exist? Will they know where you are? Will they travel to come eat at your restaurant? You want to place your restaurant near your target audience and in plain view. You can choose from an existing site or build your own from the ground up.
  4. Find a good contractor.
    If you do choose to build your own restaurant, a good contractor is essential. You want someone who is familiar with restaurants and knows what you need and where you need it. A contractor who is unfamiliar with restaurants may quote you wrong prices, use the wrong materials, and delay your opening. 
  5. Get a bank loan.
    Few people have enough money to open a business without getting a loan. Good loans are hard to find, and it will take some research. You should find a loan with a reputable company offering a low interest rate. Don’t pick the first company you find that is willing to give you money. Getting interest rate quotes should be as easy as going to the location and asking for one. 
  6. Find a food service distributor.
    Much of your budget is going to go toward food, so you should find a good food service distributor. Some examples include Gordon Foods, Sysco Food Service, or Ben E. Keith. Don’t be afraid to negotiate with these companies. The worst they can say is no, but negotiating lets the company know you’re looking for a little flexibility, which can save you money.
  7. Find an equipment dealer.
    Along with food, you need quality equipment. Buying cheap equipment can lead to problems down the line. You want to find a reliable equipment dealer who produces fine items that will last a long time. A stove element that doesn’t heat properly will cause uneven cooking and unhappy customers. The Foodservice Equipment Distributors Association can help you find dealers in your area.
  8. Hire the right people.
    The people you hire can make or break a restaurant. You want employees who are willing to become knowledgeable about your menu and your policies while offering a personable attitude and good service. People who are willing to learn will represent your restaurant in a better light.
  9. Have a good training program.
    If you want your staff to be knowledgeable and follow your procedures, you need a good training program. You can take tips from training programs of successful restaurants or learn from things they fail to deliver. Don’t forget to update your training program as necessary. 
  10. Ask for feedback.
    One of the best things business owners can do is ask for feedback from their customers. Customers know what they want, and they can help you succeed. The general public will point out places they desire you to improve while telling you what they like about your restaurant. You can encourage people to give you feedback by offering coupons. Quick 5-minute surveys are easy to set up on websites such as SurveyMonkey.com, which will provide customers with a coupon code they can write down and present on their next visit.
Last Updated: February 04, 2016