Starting a successful bar or restaurant requires a ton of planning, strategy, and hard work, but if you’re passionate about it and willing to do what it takes then it can be a massively rewarding experience. We’ve worked with countless successful industry entrepreneurs over the years, and we’d like to share some of the tips that we have picked up along the way. Let’s dive in to our tips for starting a successful bar or restaurant in 2018!
What You’ll Learn
- Tips on how to create a unique concept
- Advice on understanding your target customer
- How to become a part of the local community
- Guidance on creating a strong staff culture
- Wise words on being smart about your finances
- The importance of using technology to drive success
Create a Unique Concept
When you set out to create your business, it’s important that you set yourself apart from all of the other options out there. A good question to ask yourself at this stage is what’s the “why” behind your passion for starting a business. What’s your background and what sort of themes excite you about the business you want to build.
One great example of a unique concept is Ford’s Garage in Fort Myers, Florida. Their 1920’s service station concept fits in perfectly in downtown Fort Myers, which was a local hangout for Ford, Edison, and Firestone. They opened their doors at an opportune time, right when their downtown area had renovated with street lamps and cobblestone avenues reminiscent of the 1920’s. Simply seeing a picture of the incredible restored cars that accompany the bar at Ford’s Garage makes it clear that they’ve nailed their unique concept.
Understand Your Target Customer
Another important thing to keep in mind when starting a bar or restaurant is to understand who your target customer is and why they would visit your business. Maybe you want to cater to the younger crowd, or you’re in a more upscale part of town where there are certain expectations, or maybe you’re in an area with great foot traffic for tourists.
In either case, you should do your best to understand who your customers will be so that you can best serve them. One great example of a company that understands their audience is Stone Brewing Company. Not only is their brand and product catered to a specific segment of craft beer drinkers, their Bistro and World Gardens locations provide a comfortable atmosphere to enjoy the perfect weather in San Diego with a menu that pairs well with their unique beer styles.
Become a Part of the Local Community
One significant point that should not be overlooked is becoming a part of your local community. Understand the culture in your part of town, and what other unique and interesting businesses are nearby as well. The more you can forge friendships with other business owners and understand what people love about your neighborhood, the more you will be accepted as part of the community and inspire first time visitors to become regulars.
As an example in our backyard of San Diego, our city is very well known for the huge number of great craft brewers that operate here. One business that fully embraces this community of craft beer in San Diego is The Brew Project. Conceived as a “San Diego brewery tour under one roof,” The Brew Project only carries beer that is brewed right here in San Diego. They forge close relationships with local breweries and provide a great experience for customers who want to sample a wide variety of local beer in one spot.
Create a Strong Staff Culture
From the very beginning, it’s important to build a strong culture amongst your employees and to focus on hiring great people who believe in your business. If you hire excellent staff from the very beginning, it will both help the success of your business and make your life easier when it comes time to expand your staff and hire new people. If you can build up a strong base of employees who you can trust, then you’ll be able to trust them to represent your business well.
Focusing on your hiring process early and keeping an eye out for which qualities your top employees possess will help you to build a great team. You should also make sure to establish effective lines of communication amongst your staff in order to ensure that everything runs smoothly. It can also be a great idea to feature staff picks for different menu items to empower them to share their opinions and feel a greater sense of ownership in their job. Be mindful about staff appreciation as well and make it clear that you appreciate all of the hard work that your employees put in. This will all result in a better customer experience as well, which is always good for business.
Be Smart About Your Finances
In order to run a sustainable business and even to get off the ground, you need to have a solid grasp on your finances. This means doing the work to understand how much funding you might need in order to renovate, build, and purchase everything required to get your business started. This is an area where it’s helpful to speak with other entrepreneurs who have walked the path ahead of you to gain an idea of how they approached this, as well as whether they think you’re adequately accounting for all important parts of this process.
It’s important to be smart about your finances after your business is up and running as well, and planning for this ahead of time will ensure that things run smoothly. Investing in a rock solid accounting software like QuickBooks will help you achieve financial success much more easily so that you can focus on running a great business instead of worrying about handling the books.
Use Technology to Drive Success
When it comes to doing as much as you can to drive the success of your business in the least amount of time, technology is your friend. Great technological solutions can make a big impact on your menus, from printed menus to digital signage, and website menus to ensure that your customers can always access an accurate and up-to-date menu wherever they look. It also means that you’ll spend less time updating menus, and that you can maintain brand consistency across your various menus with ease.
It’s also important to market your business on social media in order to reach the widest possible audience. Platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram are all great ways to interact with current and future customers. You should also keep up with online reviews and check-ins in order to represent your business in the best possible manner online and show prospective customers that you care about the customer experience at your business.