With more than 600,000 restaurants in the U.S. (and more opening daily), it can seem a fool’s errand to open one. How can you beat the odds that your restaurant will thrive and not become just another failed-business statistic?
Study the Competition
Too many restaurateurs open restaurant concepts based on what they want, not what the market wants. You might want to open a cupcake shop…but there are two within a square-mile radius…and the demand for cupcakes has gone down.
Spend months analyzing which restaurants are operating in the area you want to open in. Study traffic patterns: is business booming or trickling in? Eat in these restaurants. How’s the service? What are they missing on the menu?
Knowing what you’re up against before you open your restaurant can help you better strategize your approach.
Find Your Niche
In San Diego, California, if you want to open a Mexican restaurant, it’s got to be better than the hundreds of existing restaurants in this category. Rather than trying to beat restaurants who have already established dominance in a larger niche, find your own.
A restaurant specializing in breakfast only or a meadery are examples of niches that have less competition. Tap into restaurant concept trends…but find something that will have longevity and sales potential.
Cater to a Specific Audience
The fact that veganism has had a 600 percent increase in interest in the U.S. should tell you that this is a demographic you can’t afford to ignore. In some parts of the country, vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free menu items are part and parcel of the majority of a city’s restaurants. But in others, they’re a phenomenon. Providing tasty options for diners with dietary restrictions can get them to flock to you, especially if there’s little in the way of competition for these food categories.
You don’t necessarily have to focus solely on these types of cuisine, but simply offer them as an option on your menu. Also consider offering popular brands like Beyond Burger, as some vegetarians and vegans look specifically for it as a menu option.
Start Out with Everything You Need
You might think that you’ll start with the basics in terms of equipment and software for your restaurant and buy the rest later, but you’re better off starting out fully operational. That means investing in software that makes running your restaurant easier. Look for a restaurant management platform that includes easy inventory management, recipe costing, and purchasing and order management to save you time and money.
In terms of equipment, you can save a lot of money if you look for used equipment, either through restaurant supply auctions or on Craigslist. Most equipment and furniture for your restaurant doesn’t need to be new, and you can save thousands on freezers, big mixers, and dining furniture if you go used.
Planning ahead for your restaurant needs can ensure that you have what you need to make the business a success and that you’re not scrambling to find the funds to buy an important component a few months into operations.
Competition will never die down for restaurants. But it’s only those that truly spend time paying attention to the local market and restaurant trends, as well as those who find their niche who will survive.