Like a well-crafted recipe that needs to be followed to make the perfect dish, carefully structured steps, meticulous planning and an efficient strategy are required to launch a restaurant successfully, and one that sustains itself over time, and turns into a profitable and expandable venture.
We believe the following 6 steps are critical to help launch a restaurant successfully:
Stage 1: Business Plan and Feasibility
Market and industry assessment, one of the most vital steps, helps in acquiring essential information that can be used to create a complete business plan before opening a restaurant. A detailed business plan and feasibility includes an industry overview, local and international F&B trends, concept overview, competition analysis, and most importantly, a financial outlook and projections to help summarize the overall investment and development strategy.
Stage 2: Concept Development
At the concept development stage the brand ethos is formed. The theme, the ambience, the name, the look and feel (i.e. interior design elements) and all other brand visuals and collaterals are put together. Finalizing a brand concept early on will help position the restaurant’s brand suitably in the market.
Stage 3: Product Development
Once a concept has been locked in, it is critical to decide what the menu offering will be. Main factors to consider, before finalizing the menu, include basic research of direct / indirect competitors’ offerings, defining the service style, preparing a skeletal menu, understanding supply chain viability and finalizing the food production process. Following this, a chef consultant should be brought on board to help create recipes, conduct sample menu tastings, create market lists, finalise recipes and menu and train staff prior to opening. This process will ensure a unique, efficient, and a high quality menu is developed for the restaurant.
Stage 4: Restaurant Build
Perhaps one of the most underestimated, yet most critical stages of launching a restaurant, is the build phase, where the foundation of a sustainable business is laid out. This stage requires the creation of a legal entity, acquiring a suitable and lucrative location for the business and sourcing/ managing the Fit Out contractors and Kitchen Equipment suppliers to ensure a timely and smooth opening. Simultaneously, the supply chain isbe set up, staff is hired and trained and all other smaller vendors, such as printers, POS suppliers, smallwares and glasswares suppliers, marketing and accounting teams, etc., are to be managed. It is imperative to get all the ducks in a row in this stage to ensure the soft-opening stage is as smooth as possible.
Stage 5: Pre-Opening
Once the restaurant is built, a soft-opening is conducted. This stage includes new equipment testing, product trials and a mock service for friends and family members, and sometimes notable chefs and restaurateurs whose advice can be handy. It is here that the training of the staff is put to test along with the service and product. Any changes in the operations of the restaurant should be finalized in this stage. A basic public relations and marketing strategy is put into effect to initiate a pre-opening buzz – online or otherwise. Once all trouble-shooting has been done, a grand opening event is typically held, hosting media, bloggers, critics, etc. to help spread the word of a new restaurant launch. Generating good PR for the restaurant is important, particularly in a saturated market, such as Dubai, to help build a strong and loyal clientele from the onset.
Stage 6: Sustainability and Expansion
The true challenge of opening a restaurant starts from the first day of operations wherein several moving parts now need to be managed on an ongoing basis. These include day to day operational issues, production and supply chain management, human resources and IT management, financial and accounting management and most importantly customer care management, to name a few. Needless to say, maintaining good food quality, service and ambience will in itself help the restaurant become popular. At the same time, one needs to constantly invest in the correct marketing strategies, continue to innovate, and participate in off-site events wherever possible, to ensure the restaurant popularity does not falter. All efforts combined will allow the brand to increase its footprint and help gain from economies of scale, making the business more profitable through continuous expansion.
Dubai, over the past 2 decades has seen a massive expansion of the restaurant industry, from local to international cuisines. The opportunities are simply endless, however an incorrect assessment or ill-thought restaurant concept could result in major losses in the long run. The above stages will help as a guide for you to launch your restaurant and make it successful.
At Ribbon, we provide personalized consulting and management services, to help create profitable restaurant businesses in Dubai.
The Dine Exhibition and Conference on the 4th and 5th March is Dubai’s exclusive business event featuring restaurant and cafe business all over Dubai, with Ribbon being one of the exhibitors at this prestigious event. If you would like to learn more about the restaurant industry or launching your own brand – do visit us at Stall A20 and we would be happy to assist you.
(Excerpts from the talk by Mr. Love Mansukhani, Managing Director, Ribbon ME, at the DINE Exhibition and Conference on 4th March 2017.)