Launching a new restaurant is a big endeavor and requires a lot of time, work, and perseverance.
There are a lot of steps to complete before the launch of the new restaurant. You have established the type of restaurant you want to run, the menu has been carefully chosen, relationships have been established with local vendors, staff has been hired and trained. There are still a few things that you can do the make the most of your launch.
Using Technology To Improve Your Restaurant
There are a number of things to take into consideration when launching a new restaurant that may not have been as prevalent in the last five years and this includes the pandemic. While we have adapted to living with the pandemic, some practices still remain, including an increase in more robust point of sale (POS) system and using QR codes for menus, both of which can reduce overhead costs.
A POS is a good investment in lieu of the traditional cash register. Yes, it will be more costly to begin with, however, the long-term benefits are hard to ignore.
While the overall purpose of the POS is to do transactions, most systems now do a number of useful tasks, including tracking inventory, tracking sales, take reservations, can be used as an employee scheduling tool, collect data for marketing purposes, and allows for newer forms of payments, such as NFT and mobile wallets.
During the pandemic, many restaurants also implemented the use of the QR code for their menus. Not only did this limit interaction to make people feel more comfortable, it also helped restaurants save money. The QR code menu system allows you to save on printed menus and save on updating tangible menus when dishes change.
If you’re doing more than just dine-in, you will also want to consider launching with a fully integrated tech stack.
This includes having a provider who can offer your customers online and/or mobile ordering, all the way through to delivery via in-house or delivery-as-a-service (DaaS) provider.
This way, you can acquire customers from the get-go by offering them the opportunity to sign up to a loyalty program, which gives you the ability to segment and market to them on a regular basis to then, in turn, drive frequency.
Marketing and Advertising
If you are using an advanced POS as mentioned above, it will already help you in gathering some key data that can be used in targeted marketing and advertising for your restaurant.
While an advertising budget may not seem like the most important area to spend money on when launching a new restaurant, it’s important to stand out from the many other restaurants who are also vying for the same customers.
You can, however, be selective in what kind of advertising or marketing you use.
The most economical form of marketing is the use of social media which can be done in-house, by your own team.
Whether you choose to use Facebook, Instagram, or Tik Tok, all can be used to advertise your restaurant, its menu, events, and more.
Afterall, people are visual so a photo or a video of the daily special or the outdoor terrace on a sunny weekend will be an inviting option to potential customers.
Another great marketing tool is to have a soft opening of your restaurant to lead up to the launch inviting key influencers and industry connections.
Firstly, this event will feel exclusive. Invitations will be limited, and this will get people talking and their social media posts will entice others to check out your restaurant once you are fully open.
Secondly, your staff will have a chance to put their training into practice. Your kitchen staff will also be able to see what menu items work best, what needs refining, and the menu can be a smaller one in order to hone the dishes for the final set menu. While most of the invitees may be family and friends, the social media influencers can help spread the word as well as local restauranteurs in order to build relationships.
How to Keep Overhead Costs Low
A key element to launching a new restaurant and remaining open is to maintain low overhead costs. While this may be easier said than done, there are certainly strategies and areas that can be cut without sacrificing quality.
Firstly, what is overhead? Simply put, overhead includes the costs to run a business. This includes fixed overhead costs such as rent, insurance, salaries, taxes – they remain the same every month according to a contract which states a certain time period.
There are also variable overhead costs which fluctuate with your business. Things such as inventory, wages, and utilities related to production all fall into this category.
What is the best way to maintain low overhead costs when launching a new restaurant?
Make a list of all the items associated with overhead costs so it is easier to track. Things that are recurring such as cleaning of kitchen equipment and maintenance should be calculated so as to avoid having to buy brand new equipment which may not be part of your budget.
And when purchasing kitchen equipment, many manufacturers will offer pieces with scratches or dents – they are still brand new, work perfectly well, just have cosmetic blemishes.
Another element that usually hinders the success of a new business is rent. Yes, location is crucial, but don’t overshoot and pick the biggest location to open your new place. There is always room to grow but if you start out too big, the rent will eat into your budget.
Take a look at your menu. While you would love to have a dish that pleases everyone on the menu, it is almost impossible. One method to lowering overhead costs when launching a new restaurant is to limit your menu.
Take advantage of your staff’s skills and produce a limited menu of stellar quality rather than a large menu of average quality – quality over quantity. This also means having to procure less ingredients which means you can spend on better quality foods.
Staff salary is another overhead that can be managed. You do not have to fire any staff, rather, look at your flow of customers and reduce the amount of staff who work during the slower periods.
Running a business is an expensive undertaking and there are many plates to juggle!
Regardless of how successful a business is, there are certain costs that are simply required in order to run properly, whether it is a slow period or business is booming.
Finding the right balance without forfeiting the quality your customers are used to is a job in and of itself.
About Smooth Commerce
Smooth Commerce is a digital ordering, customer marketing and loyalty platform for restaurants. We take ordering to the next level with personalized customer engagement, making your digital storefront the cornerstone of your brand. By solving more restaurant pain points in one digital platform than anyone else, we put you back in control of the customer’s experience with your brand to promote profitable sales growth.
If you would like to learn more or talk to a representative from Smooth Commerce about how our platform can help you meet your loyalty goals, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.