Opening a new restaurant is only the beginning. The often cited statistic of three out of every four restaurants fail in the first year is an indication that while many restaurants open, few have what it takes for long-term success. One reason so many new restaurants fail to thrive is a lack of planning. Knowing how to manage a restaurant's finances, day to day problems, customer service, and training staff are all part of managing and helping your new restaurant to grow.
Manage Your Restaurant Finances
The biggest problems many new restaurants face is around finances. Making sure to borrow adequate capital will help you get the front doors open, but it won’t sustain a restaurant over the long run. The key to managing finances in a restaurant is knowing how to spend and where. It is also important to know what to do when problems arise, to keep them from escalating.
For example, understanding how to read a profit and loss statement and analyze daily cash flow will help to identify problems early on and allow you to take the necessary steps to keep your restaurant on the road to success.
Market Your Restaurant
While it would be nice if your new restaurant was so successful that you needed to worry about advertising, few establishments have such luck. While you may not have to advertise like you did when you first opened, it is still important to market your restaurant. Look for ways to remind customers of how awesome your restaurant is, and entice them to come in for dinner.
Building a solid social network through sites like Facebook and Twitter, as well as a restaurant website, are inexpensive ways to market your restaurant. Periodically running print or radio ads around the holidays and other special occasions are a good way to bring in business without breaking the bank.
Catering services are another way to reach a broader customer base. You already have the resources for feeding large parties of customers, why not offer to cater parties, wedding, and other events. You can increase sales and market your services at the same time.
Maintain Your Restaurant Menu
Your menu is the calling card of your restaurant. It is why customers return. As your restaurant grows, it’s important to maintain your menu. Periodically review which items are selling well and which aren’t. Don’t be afraid to update your menu, keeping customer favorites and trying out new dishes. Reviewing your menu also allows you to update prices, to keep your food cost in line.
Offer Good Customer Service
Good food will lure customers into your restaurant, while good service keeps them coming back. In a business where the customer is always right, how you handle customer complaints and show customer appreciation are important for building a strong clientele. There are many types of promotions that will show customers how much you appreciate their business, such as happy hour, two-for-one specials, and various seasonal promotions.
Keep Restaurant Resources Handy
There are many books, television shows, magazine and websites available to help restaurant owners manage day-to-day operations. There are entire TV shows, like "Ramsey’s Kitchen Nightmares" and "Restaurant Impossible" dedicated to turning failing restaurants around.
There are many publication and websites that offer advice on everything from updating menus to going green at your restaurant. Books like “Running a Restaurant for Dummies” are a great way to make sure you are doing everything you can to keep your restaurant on track for success.