5 mins read

Successfully Starting Your Own Restaurant with Zip Checklist

successfully starting your own restaurant with zip checklist
Daphne Blake

By Daphne Blake

How to Avoid Fatal Restaurant Errors the First Time

Starting your own restaurant is difficult and requires careful consideration. With the proper planning and commitment to see it through, you can avoid losing the restaurant you so passionately built.

So, you want to open your own restaurant? Whether you've worked in restaurants before or not, you can learn the required skills and do the necessary work to become the owner of a successful restaurant. It requires a lot of investment of time and energy but can be greatly rewarding financially and emotionally.

Conceptualize Your Vision

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Before you start anything else, it's important to have a concept for what your restaurant will be. The best part about starting your own restaurant is making it your own. What gets you passionate about a restaurant? What type of restaurants do you care about and frequent? What type of food do you enjoy? These questions can help lead you to the concept of your restaurant. Your restaurant concept should be simple and quick to explain. Having an elevator pitch in your pocket while you're developing your restaurant can be the difference of securing investors or not, so make it as appealing and unique as possible. You can keep track of this pitch with Zip Checklist and have it on your phone at all times, ready for when you need it.

While establishing your restaurant concert, make sure to ask yourself lots of questions. Will your restaurant be a sit-down location? If you're in a city, do you want to start a food truck? Or would your restaurant serve its best purpose as a catering service. These do not have to be mutually exclusive. You can start catering out of your established restaurant or use food trucks as a mobile, consumer-facing version of your catering business, but you should only start one at a time to devote your full time and effort. A successful restaurant can spin that success into a food-truck, but a failed restaurant and a failed food truck add up to nothing. Most of the advice in this article will be for a brick and mortar restaurant, but some can be applicable for a food truck or catering service.

After creating your initial concept, refine it to be realistic. Are you upscale, mid-scale, or quick-service? This will affect how much both you and your customers will spend. Some concepts work better as quick-service locations, while others can deliver best on high-quality, upscale dining. What local competitors could direct customers away from you? If your city is filled with midscale grill and bar restaurants, it will be harder to differentiate yourself if you're another of the same. What specialty equipment would be needed for your concept, and is that realistic? Are you taking advantage of ingredients local to your area?

From the Customer's Perspective

Another good exercise is to envision what your restaurant would feel like for a customer. Imagine the location, furnishing, and décor. How do you order? How far away from each other are your tables? Don't get too far into the details, but trying to understand the realistic application of your concept can pay off greatly in planning. Planning can be vague and abstract, so planning with the end application in mind can solidify realistic plans that will set up your restaurant for success.

Poor location choice can doom a business, whether from lack of foot traffic, illegality of the location, or from being unable to compete with nearby restaurants. After you have your concept, look for locations that work well with your target audience and purpose. If you want to have a mid-scale restaurant with an emphasis on dates, find a location near a cinema or theatre. If you want a quick-service restaurant that offers food that is fast to eat, try to obtain a property near popular local stores or shopping areas. When researching locations, keep track of each viable option in Zip Checklist and use the comments feature to keep track of your thoughts on it and its notable features.

Notable features include parking for customers. While you may not be able to offer your own parking lot, try to find locations whose street parking is usually available during peak dining hours. Another concern is finding locations that either come equipped with or are easily modified to provide access for people with disabilities. Depending on local laws, this could be required, but otherwise, it is just good business. When focusing on your target audience, you don't want to turn away any customers that are interested.

Keep vendors and local farms in mind when you are deciding on your final destination. Minimizing costs and delivery times can push one option over another.

Paying Attention to the Books

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The reason any restaurant goes under is financial. If they didn't properly consider their revenue or budget, it doesn't matter how good the food they're serving is. Do your research on the cost of the machinery you need, the rent on your location, fees to acquire the required permits and licenses to legally operate, the cost of insurance, and local labor costs for the type of employees you need. Oversimplifying your budget leads to unrealistic estimates, so dig into the details of what you will need to start your own restaurant. It is dedicated hard work that will give you the best chance to stay open. Entering some of these items into Zip Checklist can also serve as an important way to keep track of what you have purchased and what you need to buy, such as each piece of kitchen hardware, required permits and licenses, décor, and furniture.

Open, successful restaurants have one similarity a business plan. Constructing a business plan gives you a chance to hammer out your concept fully and establish itself as viable and concrete. If your concept is insufficient, this step will show you so before you waste your money. You can go back to the drawing board and fix your idea. Don't worry too much about your idea, though. The modern fast-food industry was born out of the notion ‘burgers but faster', so if the math works out in your business plan, you can proceed with confidence in your out-of-the box idea.

The Coveted Business Plan

A business plan should describe, among other things, target audience and price scale, which insurance agency you'll use, what capital you will be using and how you'll fulfill the financial responsibilities of those arrangements. Along with what your plans for marketing are, and what employee structure you'll use and how many you will hire. This document will be the basis of your restaurant's success, so don't feel guilty about spending lots of time getting it right. As a tip, when you think you have your budget and timeline established, add another 50%. There are always unforeseen difficulties and costs that, if you don't account for them, can destroy your restaurant dream. Growth management is also important, as discussed here.

With the right plan and concept in hand, you can proceed with confidence when executing the plan. Hire a manager with experience, a head chef with expertise in the type of food you'll be serving, and friendly staff. By following your well-thought-out plan and keeping track of every moving part with Zip Checklist, you can achieve success in the restaurant industry.

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