Manage Your Restaurant Finances
The biggest challenge facing any start-up restaurant involves finances. Borrowing adequate capital will get the front doors open, but it won’t sustain a restaurant over the long haul. The key to managing finances in a restaurant is knowing how to spend and where. It's also important to know how to respond when problems arise to keep them from escalating.
For example, understanding how to read a profit & 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 Online & in Print
To get your name known, you will need to market your restaurant. Look for ways to remind customers, both online and in print (flyers, pamphlets, billboards), how unique and awesome your restaurant is. You want to entice them to come in for dinner and a good way to do that is with strong online marketing.
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 good ways to bring in business without breaking the bank.
Catering services also will help you reach a broader customer base. Because you already have the resources to feed large numbers of people, why not cater parties, weddings, 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 costs in line.
Provide Good Customer Service
Good food will lure customers into your restaurant, but 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 very important parts of building a strong clientele. Any of a wide range of promotions will show customers how much you appreciate their business. Suggestions include happy hour, two-for-one specials, and various seasonal promotions.
Keep Restaurant Resources Handy
Several books, television shows, magazines and websites are available to help restaurant owners manage day-to-day operations. TV shows like "Ramsey’s Kitchen Nightmares" and "Restaurant Impossible" are dedicated to improving struggling restaurants. In addition, there are several publications & websites that offer advice on everything from updating menus to going green. 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.