Many people dream of running their very own restaurant chain, but very few take the steps needed to transform their dream into a reality. Instead of sitting around and dreaming about the business chain that you want to establish, why not begin to take the steps to transform your idea into an actionable business that will provide you and your family with a comfortable business for years to come?
The truth is, with a little hard work, dedication, and the ability to understand what the market is interested in, anyone can run their own restaurant chain.
We’ve outlined thirteen critical ways that you can go from dreaming about owning your own business to actually being at the helm of a successful franchise!
Get Into The Trenches By Working In A Restaurant
If you want to run a successful restaurant chain in the future, you need to have experience behind the scenes. Humble yourself and take a job at a restaurant so that you can learn the ropes. Focus on trying out as many job titles as you can, and always volunteer for extra work. This way, you’ll be able to understand how the restaurant is run from the bottom up and have insider knowledge of what works and what doesn’t. There’s nothing wrong with learning from the mistakes of others, so don’t be afraid to keep detailed notes about how you will run your restaurant chain when you get the opportunity!
Another reason why you need to get your hands dirty and understand the restaurant business from an employee perspective is that you will be far better equipped to deal with employee squabbles and problems when you’re running your own business. Since you’ll have insider knowledge of what the job entails, you’ll be a much better mediator.
Finally, your future employees will appreciate that you are someone who is willing to get into the trenches. They will like the fact that you’ve earned your place at the top of the company by working behind the fryer or serving tables. It will give you instant credibility and establish you as a boss who should be respected!
Create A Business Plan That Highlights Milestones
There is no business without a business plan. If you don’t have a comprehensive outline that allows you to fully understand how you can measure your company’s goals, you are far less likely to succeed.
Smart business plans outline what your objectives are and give you a proper roadmap to reaching your dreams. They include a summary of what your business will entail, a strategy for growth, and specific information about how you will calculate your milestones.
They will also keep you realistic about your funding and help you set guidelines for hiring future employees. When it comes to looking for investors, business plans show that you are serious about your venture and have put in some thought to how it will succeed. They also keep you accountable for the tasks at hand!
Understand Who Your Restaurant Will Be Appealing To
Not all restaurants appeal to all people! You future restaurant chain has a specific target market, so make sure that you understand who that market is and how best to communicate with them. If your restaurant caters to early-bird senior diners, don’t advertise it on Instagram.
On the other hand, if your restaurant chain is a coffee house geared towards appealing to college students, make sure that it has plenty of comfortable seating, a light menu, and good WiFi.
Knowing your target audience is half the battle in getting your restaurant off the ground. It’s okay if there is some overlap between two demographic groups, such as families and couples, but don’t make the mistake of trying to appeal to everyone!
Figure Out What Type Of Food You’ll Be Serving
Just like you shouldn’t try to create a restaurant that will appeal to all people, you shouldn’t put everything under the sun on your menu! You need to think about the style of your food.
There are plenty of options that you can take on this one, but if you’re establishing a future restaurant chain you need to focus on things that can be easily duplicated. That means, don’t get too finicky with the presentation of your food or offer exclusive dishes. You want to focus on crowd-pleasers that will be popular and lend themselves easily to duplication. We’ve compiled some sample ideas below.
- Offer gourmet sandwiches and inspired sides, like truffle fries and noodle salads for a hip coffeehouse feel.
- Go for fast food made right, with juicy burgers, chicken fingers and milkshakes.
- Consider the fact that just about everyone loves barbecue! Why not serve up tasty ribs and macaroni and cheese?
Develop Your Menu Prototype
Once you have your restaurant concept down, it’s time to actually hammer out the menu. Let’s say that you’ve decided to go with a barbecue-style restaurant. Your menu would include pulled pork sandwiches, ribs, coleslaw, macaroni salad, and other summertime barbecue delights! You will want to give some thought to how the menu is laid out, and what options you’ll offer for people with special dietary needs and children.
These days, plenty of people are vegetarian or vegan, so if you want to run a successful barbecue restaurant, consider having special options strictly for them!
Choose Your Style With Care
Your style needs to reflect your personal restaurant concept, as well as be able to be logically duplicated as your chain expands. Think about all sorts of decor, from pictures to the color of your walls.
You’ll also need to pick up some commercial restaurant tables that fit the overall mood of the restaurant. Make sure that you have a plan in place before you start buying your items. It’s good to have a second set of eyes as well, so enlist the help of a trusted friend or colleague to make sure that your vision is coming together appropriately. Remember, you can always make minor tweaks to the layout, but you want it to reflect your desired vibe from the very beginning.
Some restaurateurs will even enlist the help of an interior designer. You could certainly go this route if you wanted to! Interior designers will help you determine how you can maximize your space. Depending on your budget, it might be something that you would want to look into.
Safety First! Get Compliant With All Standards
There are plenty of different things that you need to consider before opening the doors to your public, and one of the most important ones is that you adhere to all safety standards.
Restaurant owners will find themselves in a position where they have to pay attention to both employee safety, and the safety of the general public. Your employees will come into contact with all sorts of materials that can hurt them, from sharp knives to boiling liquids. They need to be fully trained in how to act around potentially dangerous situations, as well as understand the basics of first aid. You should always have a first aid kit on hand, and make sure that any of your future franchises have similar ones available to all of their employees.
Additionally, you need to understand how to keep food safe. You will be inspected, and shut down, if you are not compliant with food safety standards. Additionally, you will run the risk of getting the public sick and damaging your reputation! As such, you need to familiarize yourself and all of your employees about the best practices of handling food safely. As you expand, you will want to make sure that each and every one of your chain restaurants adhere to the same standard of excellence when it comes to handling food. It is even in your best interest to tour your future chains to make sure that they are operating above board at all times!
Find Some Funding
Unless you are independently wealthy, you will need to find some funding to get off the ground. The good news is, by this point you’ve already developed your concept, have your business plan and are familiar with safety standards. Your restaurant is already light-years beyond the competition.
Start with your local Chamber of Commerce and see if you can apply for any grants or loans. Depending on what sort of restaurant you’re planning on running, you might even be able to attract some venture money or find a sponsor. Don’t be afraid to look in unlikely places, and shoot for the stars! You never know where the money will come from.
Choose Your Employees With Care
Your employees are the face of your company, so choose them wisely! You want employees that will work hard, represent you well, and respect your customers at all times. The should also be honest and fair-minded. Watch out for workplace bullies, as they can create a toxic environment for your other employees!
Do your due diligence. Call references, perform background checks and set up a trial period so that you can make sure the employee is a good fit with your team. Many successful restaurant owners will increase the employee’s salary after the trial period. Make sure that all of your franchises follow suit so that you can have the best employees on hand!
Solicit Customer Feedback
Once you get the ball rolling on your first shop, talk to your customers. Many customers will be unwilling to let you know if they’ve had a bad experience. They just won’t come back again. By actively talking to them, you will show them that you value their opinion and are willing to make changes.
Retaining and attracting new customers is the only way that you can start to add links to your restaurant chain, so make sure that you are talking to them all of the time.
Decide How To Get The Word Out
Even if your current customer base is satisfied, you still need to get the word out about your restaurant. There are plenty of ways to do this, and you really need to examine who your audience is before committing to any medium.
If your audience is a little older, traditional media is a better way to reach them. Consider running advertising ads on television and radio. Depending on your market, billboards might be a good choice too. Keep the content light and emphasize that you are a reliable and solid place to get a good meal.
If your audience tends to skew younger, tap into the power of social media. Consider running ads of platforms like Facebook or Instagram, and make sure that your message is fresh and engaging. Remember, you need to stand out from the crowd.
You might want to consider hiring a Marketing Manager for your advertising campaigns, especially if you need to devote your time to growing the business.
Keep The Buzz Going
Consistent buzz is needed to make sure that your restaurant chain is top-of-mind for consumers. Keep it going by posting updates on social media, running promotions and sponsoring local events.
If you can, make sure that you have a place on local community boards, like your Chamber of Commerce. This shows the community that you are invested in the success of the town, and that your franchise is there to make the place better. Simply devoting your time and efforts to helping the community costs you only a few hours a month, but the goodwill is worth its weight in gold!
Plan Your Expansion
Once your flagship location is all set, start to think about expansion. If you’ve played your cards right and set up systems in place to ensure that the business model can be duplicated, you will be able to expand easily!
You can transform your dream of running a future restaurant chain into a reality. All you need to do is put in the time and effort, and have a concise and actionable plan for success. Don’t be afraid to dream big! You will be surprised by what you can accomplish simply by taking the first important step.