Once you’ve decided to take on restaurant entrepreneurship, whether you’ve chosen a franchise or an independent restaurant, there are unique challenges that restaurant owners specifically face. The key to addressing and planning for these hidden issues and common problems is accounting for them in your business plan. As we’ve discussed before, your business plan is the road map to your success. In researching and writing your business plan, you’ll need to account for these issues so that you can best overcome the challenges as they happen. At Cormode & Dickson, we’ll guide you through this process, working with you to ensure that your business plan addresses the following challenges.
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#1 Hiring, Training, and Keeping Good Employees
As business owners, your employees represent your restaurant – its values, its appeal, and its reputation. Transient or incompetent employees can break your business and the restaurant industry is notorious for having high employee turnover, but these issues can best be mitigated by making your employees the most important part of your business. By mindfully selecting your team, choosing to pay them well, and offering rock solid, consistent training (complete with manuals, checklists, goals, and incentives), you’ll be well on your way to ensuring you retain good employees. By emphasizing your staff, you decrease overall costs and improve your patrons’ dining experience. When your employees are proud and happy to work for you, they’re motivated, they’ll embody your values, and they’ll care deeply about both their success and the business’.
#2 Good Management
A good management team goes hand in hand with retaining good employees. In any Alberta business, your management team is essential to your business’ success. They “should be exemplary, committed, motivational and adept at running the restaurant in your absence.” A good management team alone will aid in keeping staff happy and motivated but they’ll also properly manage quality control, flow, service, reservations, discipline, incentives, team-building, and be mindful of costs, where as a poor management team will tank your restaurant and fast! Therefore, you want to hire experienced, dedicated restaurant managers who know how to run daily operations profitably. They are the staff responsible for keeping an eye what is selling and what isn’t, ensuring good profit margins, sticking to labour and cost budgets, managing loss, meeting sales goals, and looking at both the big and small picture with regard to profit, loss, and cash flow.
For an Alberta business, marketing is essential to success, but it also happens to be an area that is often overlooked or put on the back burner. Many restaurant entrepreneurs fail because they don’t establish a functional marketing plan. In big city centres like Edmonton, Red Deer, or Calgary, competition among restaurants is fierce, so “knowing how to bring in new customers and how to develop a repeat clientele” is crucial to success. Key marketing strategies include formalizing your brand (mission statement, logo, graphics, guidelines) and ensuring that all marketing (including your menus and website) meets the branding guidelines; creating a six month to one year marketing plan; building a beautiful, mobile friendly, website optimized for search engines; engage in social media and digital marketing; create a restaurant newsletter and subsequent email database to keep potential customers engaged and informed; and create or join a customer loyalty plan. Marketing doesn’t have to be expensive, but it should be intentional and targeted.
Ultimately, your restaurant can mitigate these challenges by managing them from the business’ outset – the business plan. Cormode & Dickson are experts at building restaurants in Alberta and we take the time to guide you through every aspect of the business’ planning and start up. Our experienced team will help you every step of the way.