When it comes to starting a restaurant, many entrepreneurs jump in and risk their time and startup capital without giving the idea proper consideration. Like other business models, restaurants have a high failure rate and owners quickly realize that being in the restaurant trade is not as glamorous or enjoyable as they first imagined.
That said though, for the right type of people who have done the right preparation, restaurants offer some excellent business opportunities. Many end up thriving and enjoying the lifestyle that goes with owning a business in this industry.
Before deciding to take the plunge and open a restaurant take some time to consider the following restaurant success factors. These are set out as a series of questions to ask yourself to see if you have what it takes to open and manage a restaurant business.
1) Do you Need Experience and Qualifications?
It is still possible for someone with no formal training or experience to open a restaurant and succeed. However, you will increase your chances of success dramatically if you have had some kind of formal training, experience or both. There are numerous culinary schools throughout the United States offering a variety of courses of various durations.
If you are able to get some experience working in a restaurant then this is also a great way to learn about how things are done and to get ideas for running your own business. Start off doing one role and persuade the owner to let you work a variety of roles so that you can understand the whole operation.
2) Do you have General Business Management Skills?
Having good money management skills will be useful when it comes to handling cash and budgeting for expenses. While not absolutely necessary, restaurant owners that understand all the cash flows coming into and flowing out of their business are more likely to feel in control and turn a profit. Doing a course in small business administration or bookkeeping would be extremely useful if you don’t possess these skills already.
3) Do you have Creative Talent?
While you can rely on the creative talents of others, such as chefs and interior decorators it will be helpful if you are a creative person. You can then have considerable input into creating a unique and workable restaurant concept, menu design and dining room decoration among other things.
4) Can you Face Long Working Hours?
Running a restaurant business will require you to spend a good deal of time away from your family if you have one. When your children are home from school in the afternoons and evenings it is likely that you will be working as most restaurant business models follow these hours (unless you focus on breakfasts and lunches). Weekends are the busiest days of the week for most restaurants so it is likely that you won’t see your family much on Saturday and Sunday as well.
5) Do you have Full Support from your Family?
Clearly you have to have the support of your spouse, at least in the early days until you are able to step back and have managers run your operation in a way that allows you to have some time off. And if you will be working with your spouse then you must make sure that your relationship is strong before going into business together.
6) Do you have enough Startup Capital?
You will need to make sure that you have access to the funds required to get your business up and running as well as to cover operating costs in the early stages. You will also require funds for your personal living costs over the first few months of your businesses life while you are getting established and revenues are still low. Unexpected expenses will undoubtedly arise as well so make sure that you don’t get caught short.
7) Are you a People Person?
As a restaurant owner or manager you will have to relate well and communicate effectively with all kinds of people.
With your staff you will have to show strong leadership skills and communicate clearly to them in order to maximize productivity and maintain good relations with them.
Restaurant owners that have strong personalities and get to know many of their guests often become the face of the brand. Sometimes the owner even ends up being part of the attraction that draws customers to dine at specific restaurants. As a restaurant owner you should be prepared to get out on the dining floor and mingle with your patrons whenever possible. Be sure to do it in a way that doesn’t interrupt their dining experience.
With your suppliers, city officials, inspectors and other parties you will also have to have the ability to communicate with them in a way that allows you to get what you want and to build strong relationships.
8) Are you Hard-Working and Organized?
As a self-employed restaurant owner you must be motivated and disciplined if you are to get everything done and achieve your goals. Being organized is the key to managing your time and the time of your employees effectively.
9) Can you Keep Cool in a Crisis?
In the day to day running of your restaurant you will encounter lots of small and large problems, especially in the early days. To keep things running smoothly you must be able to take control in a crisis situation, calm your employees and offer quick, practical solutions that avoid stressing everyone out. As the owner and manager you then have to work on eliminating problems so that they don’t occur again.
There are many assets, personality traits and other attributes that the ideal restaurant owner should have. To some extent these restaurant success factors can be acquired, learnt or developed before you open your doors for business.
While you should always keep financial rewards in mind when you start up in the restaurant trade it is also important to have other reasons for going into this business. If you have a love for people, food and hospitality then there is nothing that you can’t pick up along the way to turn yourself into the perfect restaurant manager.