Whether you're just getting started or opening a new location, starting a new restaurant is an exciting and exhausting experience and your first year is really make or break. While the first years of a new business are the most challenging, if you have the right plan and the latest technology tools you can definitely set yourself up for success. We’ve worked with over 10,000 customers and helped business owners open thousands of new locations, so we’ve compiled a guide to some areas where a little bit of pre-planning can have a tremendous impact on the success of your new restaurant.
The Big Three
Food, location and concept are the most important decisions you’ll make for your restaurant. Don’t settle for a hard-to-reach location and make sure your prices and brand fit the market nearby. The more accessible you can make your restaurant, the more likely you are to succeed. Look at the most successful restaurants in your area and you’ll notice a few secret (or not so secret) ingredients – they’re accessible in terms of location, brand and price.
Budgeting and Planning
Startup costs: Call pest control, equipment and refrigeration service contractors, linen services, dishwasher/chemical service companies, and, most importantly, business insurance providers and city and county governmental fees & licensing departments to get monthly, quarterly, and annual costs.
Negotiation: You’ve got to know what you’re buying. Create a side-by-side checklist and challenge your vendors to explain why their product or service is superior. Know what your potential vendor’s competitors are charging so you can ask them to beat the price. Don’t be shy about asking for discounts. Your vendors are eager to build a relationship with you and likely, they’d rather offer you the best price than compete for your business again next quarter.
Choosing the Right Technology Partner
One of the biggest investments in business technology most restaurant owners make is a point-of-sale system. More than just a cash register, today’s restaurant POS systems are sophisticated management tools that can streamline your operation and help you manage many areas of your business. These days, technology investments are an ongoing cost of doing business – so plan on a monthly budget for the tools that will power your restaurant. Invest – don’t spend! Today’s POS systems will save you big dollars in many areas of your business:
- Improved accuracy
- Faster customer service
- Tighter cash control
- Reduced labor costs
- Controlled food costs
There’s a great abundance of technology options today, but it’s important to not settle for the cheapest, or even the flashiest technology option. Custom food business like pizza or sandwich shops call for a customized solution like a specialized Pizza Point of Sale solution. Look for a partner that specializes in your niche and ask for references from similar businesses. That way you won’t end up frustrated with a tool that won’t do what you need as your business grows.
Not all processors are the same & the cheapest rate is not always the best – watch for hidden fees, how long it takes to get your money, customer privacy, customer service, and security. It’s easy to think that only the big restaurants need to worry about security, but hackers target small restaurants more than ever. Don’t put your business or your customers at risk – choose a partner that is integrated with your point-of-sale solution for the most trouble-free processing experience.
Rethink the Customer Experience
The way your customers interact with your technology is more important than ever. Does your customer receive 5-star service every time they interact with your business? Today’s customers expect you to roll out the red carpet – in store and online. It’s critical to present a seamless experience to your customers, both inside your restaurant and across online ordering, mobile ordering, and your loyalty program.
Marketing 101 and Beyond
Setting a realistic marketing plan is just as critical as getting the big three right. It’s important to think practically about how to get customers in the door and not rely on a “build it and they will come” approach. So how much is a single loyal customer worth to your business? If you guessed in the hundreds or low thousands, you may want to rethink your customer loyalty strategy. According to a recent Forbes study the average lifetime value of one restaurant customer is $25,000 with repeat customers accounting for 70% of sales in most casual dining restaurants.
Ultimately, the ideal technology partner can help make your challenging first years a much more fruitful experience, so take the time to find the best fit for you!
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