How to Succeed at Owning and Running a Restaurant

For many chefs and those who simply love good food, the dream of owning and running a restaurant is ever present. So, how can you turn this dream into a reality and avoid the common pitfalls that could make your dream a nightmare?

Be Honest With Yourself About the Realities of the Business – Running a restaurant is hard work. Early starts to purchase and prepare ingredients are a necessity, as are late nights serving customers and cleaning up. You will need to deal with suppliers, customers and staff as well as anticipating market trends and advertising and promoting your business. The capital investment required to start up a business and survive financially while you attempt to turn a profit can be deeply stressful and can wear down even the most dedicated entrepreneur. By understanding these challenges before you start out you can plan for them and deal more easily with any issues that arise.

Write an In-Depth Business Plan – Identify your preferred location and target market. Assess the competition and explain exactly what it is about your restaurant that will make it succeed. Detail all your costs, and don’t forget a marketing budget and an emergency fund. Will your restaurant be boutique or mass market? Decide on a shortlist of your preferred chefs and assess their benefits and disadvantages. What are your running costs and profit margins? A detailed business plan will help you to focus your energies and highlight any flaws in your thinking or omissions in your plan.

Buying Your Restaurant – There are many different options available to you in buying a restaurant. You may decide to buy a franchise, in which case many decisions will have been made for you and you will have guidance and help from the franchise owner. You may also decide to convert an existing non-restaurant building into a restaurant, but this can require a large expenditure, planning permission and a knowledge of all of the equipment and design features you will need. Buying an already constructed restaurant can often be the easiest and quickest solution. If you are buying a restaurant that has gone out of business, make sure you understand why it did so and make sure that you will not make the same mistakes. Ensure that you know exactly what is being included in the sale – are fixtures and fittings included? Decide between buying a building and buying a leasehold.

Make Yourself Aware of Laws and Regulations – At the very least you will need a Food Hygiene Certificate and public liability insurance. It may be worth your while to speak to a local council about any other requirements and any training programmers they offer that you can take advantage of. These laws and regulations exist to protect consumers and you could find yourself criminally and civilly liable if you do not comply with them. It is much better to understand your responsibilities before you start than to be informed that you have not upheld them during a food safety inspection.

Guest blogger Rachel is a freelance blogger on a variety of business topics, including buying and selling a business.

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