Things seemed bright back when I was just daydreaming about the kind of restaurant I was going to open and what type of service it would have. I wanted to have a casual place where parents could bring their kids on the weekends. I also wanted it to be a little hip and trendy so young parents would still feel cool hanging out there. I wanted to serve great beer and wine. I wanted to serve PIZZA because that’s absolutely the greatest food ever invented (I could go on for days on the reasons why I believe this)!
But, inevitably, you have to come down from the clouds and function here in the real world where you have a budget, fixed costs, deadlines, etc. In order to open a successful business, you need to have a plan. For the last few months, we’ve been slowly building our business plan into a solid foundation.
Now we’re at the step where we’ll decide on our preferred type of service and we’ll ask ourselves some questions to make sure our service style will fit with the rest of the business plan.
First, let’s just keep it simple.
Serve something you’re comfortable serving and have a deep knowledge on.
It’s great to dream big but for this first adventure, the best thing to do is keep it within your comfort zone. You can go bigger when you know what you’re doing. You don’t want to get so elaborate that opening your restaurant gets to be unrealistic. If your first instinct is simple and not flashy, then go with it.
If you’re like me and love to eat pizza, then chances are you’ll know a lot about what you like and what you want to serve. It’s the same with any other food or cuisine. And don’t worry too much about competition right now. I know there are 15 choices of pizza restaurants within driving distance of where I want to open my shop, but none of them can do pizza like I can/plan to. I also know that if I set up a good business plan, stick to the plan, and keep my standards high at all times, the customers and their loyalty will come.
Don’t overthink it.
Think about who your target audience is.
“What type of person will be eating the food I’m serving?”
Earlier, I mentioned that I envision a place where parents could bring their kids. I have two daughters so take my word for it when I tell you that, when the girls were younger, the last thing I wanted to do was take them somewhere where they would be expected to sit quietly for a long period of time without making noise or getting up and bothering other patrons.
So for my pizza restaurant, I’m going to want to structure my service so that parents can get their kids to a table quickly without having to worry too much about etiquette and procedure. I’m going to want to make it easy to order. And I’m probably going to want to give them the option of ordering in groups or packages. The less time the parents can spend on details the better.
I’ll also want to have lots of “eye candy” to keep the kids occupied. Things like a game room or TV room for the kids would be ideal. These allow the parents to relax with each other and not worry too much about their children.
Depending on what audience you’re going for, keep their whole experience in mind. Make sure you try to provide the perfect experience from the minute they park until the minute they leave.
Consider what it takes to prepare your food.
Can I make it quickly? Is it easy to make with 1-2 people or do I need a team in the kitchen? Will the ingredients cost a lot?
This question could be its own post and I’m sure I’ll go morin-depth on this one in the future. For now, just keep those three questions in mind.
Basic pizza is easy, fast, and cheap. There are lots of restaurants that have taken pizza to another level, but for me, I just need the basic dough, sauce, and cheese. Remember, my restaurant’s service is going to focus more on a gathering place for friends and family as well as good pizza.
Your restaurant may be more upscale or have a cuisine that is more labor intensive, with ingredients that cost more. If you’re planning on serving French food from a trained chef, chances are you’ll want a more formal level of service. If you’re serving wings and beer during NFL games, the service can be more casual.
Take your surroundings into account.
What type of area is your business located in?
It’s hard to say this, as I believe that communities need to be diverse, but it’s a fact that your surroundings affect your service type.
For example, if you’re located in close to a lot of offices where the majority of your customers only have an hour for lunch, then you’ll want to have a fast style of service. If you’re in the suburbs, fast casual, casual, and upscale are all possibilities. If you’re next door to a fitness center, it would probably benefit you to serve healthier fare.
Consider you budget.
Budget? Money? Limitations?
UGH! I hate all of those, especially when you’re day-dreaming of your perfect restaurant.
Unfortunately, there are times when your dreams cannot be immediately reached. Formal restaurants and service tend to cost more than quick service or fast casual models. Why? You’ll have to put more money into food production, products, training, and the atmosphere at a formal restaurant. In quick service and fast casual, the customers are in and out quickly. They may even use they drive through where the majority of the service takes place in a 30-60 second window, so chances are their only concern is speed and quality. They won’t care about other details that a formal restaurant has to.
Alright! I’m getting excited! Another step in creating a solid business plan is done. I hope you’re feeling confident and have a better idea of how to go about things? Soon we’ll talk about the description of your business and finish up our discussion on how your business will be organized. Then, we’ll finally write the Executive Summary which gets you ready to pitch to investors or banks.
Please feel free to leave comments and questions below. Do me a personal favor and share this with your friends or coworkers.
See you soon!