10 Strategies for Surviving the First Year of a New Restaurant
For a first-time restaurateur, opening their own restaurant is both exhilarating and hard.

According to an Ipsos poll, about a third of Canadians have fantasised of operating a restaurant or bar. No wonder, with a thriving business. The Canadian restaurant business generates $85 billion in annual sales, or 4% of the country's GDP.

But the sector isn't without its own obstacles, and it isn't for the faint of heart. According to an Ohio State University research, 60% of new eateries fail within the first year.

So, how can you avoid failing or being one of the 60%?

Here are ten tips to help you succeed and survive while launching your dream restaurant.

a. a solid business

It won't be enough to assume your new restaurant will be the greatest in town in terms of cuisine, service, and environment. Opening a restaurant is also establishing a new business, so having a strategy that outlines what has to be done, how long it will take, how much it will cost, and where you want to end up is critical. In addition to helping banks and investors, it will help you set realistic objectives and actions that map your future and give you something to look back on.

Including a precise monthly income and spending budget in your company strategy can also help. It's critical to include in both fixed and variable expenditures like rent/mortgage, utilities, food, equipment, and salaries, especially early on when cash flow is weak.


2. Great Location

The appropriate location will make or break your restaurant's success. Choosing a site based on a dearth of decent restaurants in an area is risky and not the way to go. You must investigate why there are no or so few eateries.

Consider variables like visibility, accessibility, and traffic while choosing a fantastic location. The more people that view and pass by your restaurant, the better.

Will you have a parking lot or can consumers park nearby? Another aspect is making your restaurant accessible to customers. Some diners only drive or can't walk great distances, so public transit is out. Others can't or won't drive, so locating a place near a bus stop or metro would allow more people to visit.

Also evaluate the sort of restaurant you want to start and if it fits the neighbourhood. It's fairly uncommon for costly fine dining restaurants to be underutilised near large universities or colleges. Despite its dense population, the bulk of residents are likely students on a budget.

3. Funding & Extra Capital

Having enough funds to start your firm is critical to its success. Underestimating costs and overspending are frequent blunders that may severely impact your bottom line, which is why it's critical to set and keep to a budget.

New restaurateurs should have 12-14 months of financial reserves or extra money to handle unanticipated expenditures. Finding creative ways to reduce your early startup costs can also help you get through the first few months. For example, leasing rather than buying restaurant and food equipment upfront reduces beginning expenditures, allowing you to save more for emergencies.


4. Pre-opening equipment costs

The equipment required to fully equip a commercial kitchen is costly. Whether you want to buy or lease your kitchen equipment, it's best to have everything ready before you open your doors. Your restaurant's menu and service may be limited if you don't have all the equipment you need when it opens.

Prior to launching your restaurant, make sure you have all your funds in order, equipment paid for or a signed leasing agreement. Not paying your suppliers on time may result in a visit from them to recover and remove overdue equipment from your possession.


5. Easy to Follow Menu

Your restaurant's menu will attract new and repeat customers, therefore establishing a superb menu should be a focus.

The menu should be easy for both the consumer and your employees. Menus with too many options might overwhelm clients and prolong the ordering process. Too many dishes means more ingredients, which means more food waste.

Your food must also be tasty, and your menu must be periodically evaluated to guarantee that everything sells. Asking for comments or conducting surveys will help you discover which meals are popular and which should be discontinued.

6. Superb Customer Care

In addition to a strong cuisine, outstanding customer service will bring back repeat customers and build favourable discussion about your business. Hire people that are efficient and can create a fun environment for your consumers. Set expectations early on for customer service from your staff, and invest in training and support to ensure it stays a top priority for everyone.

Because it is so easy to write a review or rating online, one unpleasant customer experience might damage your restaurant's reputation.

7. Operating System in Place

Establish clear protocols for your restaurant before it begins. For your staff, this means writing job descriptions and training plans for each role. This way, no one is left out of the loop or forgotten about.

You should also set menu guidelines. Are your menu items prepared and served? What ingredients must be used? What serving size will assure quality and consistency?


8. Unique Restaurant Culture

To be successful, a restaurant must first define its identity. Before even developing a business strategy, you will need to determine yours. Decide on the sort of restaurant you want to run. Is it a café, brunch, fast-casual, or fine-dining venue? Then you may decide on things like cuisine and front-of-house design.

Without a specific specialty, you risk being overly wide or having a disjointed menu, which can confuse your clients and personnel. Your team will be able to effectively convey your restaurant culture and mission to your visitors and clients.

9. Staff Appearance Coordination

Your front-of-house personnel is typically the only point of contact for your consumers. So it's vital they represent your brand. A uniform, apron, or dress code promotes your restaurant's design and style, making it more appealing to your customers.

Clean and matched staff uniforms also make it easy for consumers to recognise who works there and contact them with inquiries or complaints.

10. Shiny Restaurant Appearance

Dirty floors, windows, and restrooms will always turn off customers and may even turn them away. A clean and polished restaurant will build trust in your consumers regarding the cleanliness of your kitchen and the quality of your meals. Nobody wants to dine somewhere where they have to worry about cross-contamination or food poisoning.