In a restaurant, everything must be focused on enhancing the customer’s experience, not simply delivering what the owner, head chefs or managers think best. So here are top tips for running not only a socially or critically successful restaurant but also a financially sustainable one.
1. Get educated
Courses such as an Advanced Certificate in Hospitality Management, a Certificate III in Commercial Cookery and Workplace Training as an Assessor and a Bachelor of Economics are very valuable for retaurant owners. This lays the foundation for an understanding of the four facets of hospitality – front of house, back of house, marketing, and how to financially manage and maximise profits from the previous three.
2. Find a great concept
Kazbah was founded and still subsequently floats on creating great breakfasts served restaurant style rather than from a café. When Kazbah opened in 1998, no one was doing really good, unique breakfasts except Bill’s. Kazbah is still famous for its unusual but consistently quality breakfasts 16 years later.
3. Location, location, location
Choose a location best suited to your concept, or alternatively if you have the venue, adapt your concept to your local demographic. Do everything you can to understand your customer and their wants and needs.
4. Find a great chef
Whether that’s you as an owner or hiring someone whose skills and know-how are compatible and in line with your concept and work ethic.
5. Find the right price point for your demographic
Some chefs who go on to open their own restaurants get carried away by sourcing the latest ‘best’ produce regardless of how much it costs to buy. While a dish might look amazing, making a the business work is going to be tough if you have to sell it for $50 to make a profit in a demographic looking for cheaper quality food. It’s going to be a lot harder to sell five ‘amazing’ dishes at $50 each than 100 great dishes at $20 each.
7. Create operational systems
Systems don’t stifle creativity; they provide the platform and stability for true, free innovation to flourish.
8. Do your sums
Understand the financials down to the very last cent. Learn your cash flow forensically so you can monitor where your money goes and where it comes in and then how to maximise profit. Restaurants run on very slim margins, usually between three to seven per cent profit, with five per cent being average. On five per cent profit you may not make millions but you will be able to create a business that is sustainable long term.
9. Learn how to cook
If you’re not a chef get your hands dirty in the kitchen. Develop know-how of not just cooking but also stock control and staff training.
10. Start marketing before you open not after
Make sure you’re clear on your ‘brand’ and that the channels you use to disseminate it are appropriate. Marketing includes building an online database, public relations, social media, advertising if needed and promotions including complimentary gift vouchers, running competitions or charity work.
If you don’t know something employ someone who is an expert. Give them motivation to care and to invest their time and prowess. Give staff room to grow within your business. Reward any above-average performance.
12. Don’t wait to get feedback
Actively ask your customers questions about their experience. Be open to negative and positive feedback and use both to guide you towards either making necessary changes, or to ensure if you’re doing something right, you keep on doing it.
13. Be a perfectionist – tenaciously and consistently
Focus on creating your ‘style stamp’ and deliver consistently quality, flavoursome food with friendly efficient service rather than following the latest fad. As they say fashions change but style lasts forever.
14. Be flexible and open to change
Try to find the delicate balance between tradition and trend, convention and innovation.
15. Above all, be humble
In the end life is about relationships not financial transactions. Running a restaurant is a team effort. It doesn’t matter whether someone is the kitchen hand or the manager or the head chef, every one’s job is equally important in keeping the running of a restaurant smooth. Treat everyone with respect no matter what position they hold. And have fun. No matter what disasters may happen on the floor or the kitchen they’re probably small in the scheme of life.
Zahi Azzi runs the Kazbah group of restaurants
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