How many people have been put off starting their own restaurant because the whole process just seems too daunting? Ok, so that was more of a rhetorical question as we couldn’t find any survey asking this question, but we’re betting it’s a fair few.

However, that’s about to change with our 10 steps on how to start a restaurant. Our roadmap will give you the key milestones you need to tick off as you go through the restaurant start-up process.

1. Choose your idea

Step 1 of our 10-step restaurant plan involves coming up with your concept and restaurant idea. What style of cuisine will you serve? What dining experience do you want to create? The answers to such questions will probably come from what you’re passionate about and the type of food that you like to eat. However, you should also consider carrying out local research to find out what the paying customer wants. Is there a lack of restaurant choice in your area or are people too conservative and not willing to try new experiences? Choosing your restaurant idea will be the bedrock for each step that follows.

2. Choose your location

Where will your restaurant be located? Will it be mobile or static? Draw up a wish list of your ideal locations and look to see whether you can a) afford that location and b) whether your target market is prepared to go there.

Have other restaurants tried and failed in the same location or are you breaking new ground? The decision you make about your location could force you to rethink your initial concept and the chances are, you’ll need to make some compromise between the two.

It’s important to remember that the location has to be accessible both in terms of its layout and geographic location.  

3. Write your business plan

Planning is absolutely critical to the restaurant start-up process. You need to be prepared to put all of your ideas, thoughts and strategies into a business plan. Your restaurant business plan will help you realise what’s achievable, attract funding and refine your ideas to ones that will hopefully make you money.

It doesn’t have to be a War and Peace sized novel, but from reading it, someone should be able to see who your target market is, how you’ll attract them and what kind of profit you’ll make.

4. Find the money

Setting up a restaurant can cost as little as a couple of thousand dollars up to hundreds of thousands depending on your plans. Regardless of what you have in mind, you will need to get your finances in order before you go much further.

The great news is, there are more sources of finance open to restaurant start-ups today than there has ever been before. From family and friends to traditional bank loans to crowdfunding, how you go about it is entirely up to you. Remember, though, those that do lend you money will want something in return and how much you raise could force you back to steps 1 and 2.

5. Get your licenses

With your idea, location and finances in place, you’ll probably want to consider applying for your licenses and permits. Some can take months to come through so it’s worth getting the ball rolling as soon as you have all the information needed for the application process.

If you leave this step till later on, you could end up with a restaurant that’s all ready to go but that you’re not able to open and trade from.

6. Build your restaurant

Steps 6 and 7 are interchangeable, but now’s the time to start the physical process of building your restaurant, fitting out the interior, choosing your point of sale system and ordering tables & chairs etc. This is where you get to see the fruits of your hard work and how all your plans are coming together.

It’s not too late to make subtle variations to your ideas, but any wholesale alterations might call for an entire rethink of your business.

7. Start your marketing

Around the same time that you’re building your restaurant, you can start with your marketing. By this stage, you should have a much firmer idea about the launch date so you can start to whet the appetite of your customers with marketing activity.

The two key areas you’ll want to focus on at this stage are social media and physical signage near your location. Social media will allow you to spread your messages quickly and easily, whereas signs outside where your restaurant will be, will appeal to passers-by who are more than likely to be some of your first customers.

8. Hire your staff

By step 8, you should now be in a position to start recruiting staff members. If there is a particular style of chef that you want to run the kitchen then you can hire them earlier to get them onboard, but waiting and auxiliary kitchen staff can be recruited now.

You’ll want to select candidates that match up to your style of restaurant in terms of personality, skills and experience.

9. Build your marketing

As the launch date gets nearer you should increase your focus on marketing. You’ll need to advertise through the channels that you think will attract the right clientele. If this isn’t your area of expertise, then get a marketing agency to help you out.

Take a look back at the market research you carried out in step 1 and the business plan you created to identify the right strategies to take. It’s likely that you’ll need to use several channels to get your messages across, but you should always measure the impact that each campaign has, how much you spent on it and how much revenue it created.

10. Go live

And when all of that’s done, it’s now time to unlock the door and welcome your customers in. Once your restaurant is up and running, don’t be afraid to revisit any of the steps from 1 to 9 as that will help keep the restaurant feeling fresh and appealing to new and existing customers.

When launching any business, particularly a restaurant, you’ll need to be somewhat flexible in your approach and be prepared to jump onto the next step or go back to a previous one at any time. For more help and advice on how to start a restaurant, please get in touch with us and we’ll help in any way that we can.