If you are considering opening a restaurant or giving an existing one an overhaul, you have plenty of items to plan out and execute. From making sure your restaurant is up to code, to hiring staff and developing a marketing plan, you will need to wear plenty of hats in the early stages.
As you prepare to open a new restaurant or improve the operational efficiencies of an existing one, there are many moving parts. Start with the big, static pieces—including restaurant equipment, fixtures and furnishings—then move on to the day-to-day systems, employee structures and general supplies that will keep your restaurant performing at its peak efficiency. We hope these best practices in restaurant operations have helped you think of the bigger picture as you set up a new restaurant in your community.
To help you prioritize your time, energy and money as you build your business, we’ve put together a list of best practices in restaurant operations:
1. Choose Your Restaurant Location
Choosing the right location is one of the best practices in restaurant operations. If you’ve yet to choose a location for your restaurant, look for options with high foot traffic and plenty of parking. While great locations always come at a cost, it can be critical to the long-term success of your establishment. If you already have a location but want to make the most of it, look into the possibility of expanding outside or upstairs to make the most of patio-season.
2. Make Your Signage Work
Even if you have a decent location for your restaurant, with enough walk-by or drive-by traffic, you need to ensure your signage is effective. First and foremost, passers-by should be able to easily read the name of your restaurant. With a quick glance at your signage, they should also have a general feel regarding the atmosphere and type of food you serve. This is accomplished through clear branding, via your font, logo and images used.
3. Study Other Restaurants
Whether you are starting a new restaurant or working to improve operations at an existing establishment, make it a priority to study your competition. First, have a good understanding of what near-by restaurants offer in terms of menu items, layout and atmosphere. Will your restaurant stand out locally or are there adjustments you can make to become a restaurant of choice?
Second, drive to other communities to see what their busiest restaurants do well. Are there branding or service styles you could bring to your own restaurant? Do they operate smoothly, while making guests feel welcome? See what you can adopt for your own restaurant business.
4. Choose Restaurant Equipment Wisely
If you are setting up a new restaurant, be sure to invest in the best equipment you can. From commercial work tables to oven and sinks, dishwashers to food warming equipment, faucets and plumbing, your restaurant equipment needs to last. If this is your first restaurant experience, be sure to speak to an advisor, who can help you understand your needs and a realistic budget. Then seek out the very best suppliers you can find.
5. Make Your Supply Chain Work
Similarly, once you have your fixed equipment in place, you’ll also want to secure professional, reliable suppliers for smaller items such as cooking tools, cutlery, to-go containers and more. Be sure to use a company with a proven track record in customer service, one that specializes in restaurant supplies. The better your relationship with a supplier, the more nimbly they will likely respond to your needs.
6. Build Strong Teams
When it comes to restaurant staff, you want the service you provide to reflect your brand and values. Leadership on this front is vital. Whether you are creating an upbeat, lively family-style restaurant or a subdued, upscale establishment, you want your service to reflect your core principles and your brand goals. Hire employees that want to move into leadership roles, find ways to recognize them and celebrate your successes as a team.
7. Better Your Community
If you own or manage a restaurant, you are automatically part of your community. Rather than expect your neighbours and community members to bring business, find genuine ways to connect with them, while serving your community. Are you able to host end-of-season events with special rates for local sports teams? Can you host a breakfast meeting once a month for local businesses? Perhaps you can become part of a group that provides warm meals to local families in need? The options to connect with your community are endless.
8. Choose Efficient Technology
When it comes to maximizing efficiencies for any business, the goal is always to reduce complexity and waste while increasing productivity and profit. Have a good look at the technology you plan to use for your restaurant, especially your point-of-sale (POS) system. Having a reliable, fast POS terminal, alongside reliable internet service, will help your servers provide quick turnaround when your customers are ready to go home.