Dreams really are a double-edged sword. On the one hand, nothing can regulate the expanse of your imagination as you ponder the impossible. But, conversely, the question arises as to how you could actually realize those fantasies. Opening a restaurant is no different, as that dream of turning your lifelong love of food into a genuine business is rather more complicated than finding somewhere to set up shop and just flicking the lights on. From securing an investor to finding a supplier for the organic produce you’re going to be serving your customers, there will be a lot on your plate in the early weeks of starting your own fast food restaurant.
While there are a few general things to consider when opening a restaurant, the specifics of devising the business plan of a QSR (quick-service restaurant) require a bit more fine tuning, based on the products you plan to sell and the methods by which you intend to market them. As this is going to be the mission statement of your fast food restaurant, you want your business plan to be as clear as possible. There needs to be a clear reason for every expense, ensuring your investors won’t baulk at the final sum asked of them, as well as offering a reasonable guarantee as to when they can expect a return on their money.
Perfect your executive summary
Even though this section is the first thing that appears on your business plan, you’re actually going to want to write it last to make sure it covers every other part of your business plan. Spanning no more than two pages, your executive summary needs to give a succinct, promising overview of how you intend your business to grow within a specified time period. It needs to be enticing, realistic, and truthful, as the relationship with your investor can sour dramatically when they realize you aren’t able to deliver on your promises when you said you were – or, even worse, that they had been sold a lie.
The executive summary provides a general concept of your business and how you anticipate it to succeed against its competitors. Offering a breakdown of the particular areas where investment is needed, you will briefly make your case for the funds requested. A strong executive summary will describe your product line up and why you believe there is a market for it: if this is a QSR serving plant-based meats, why is yours going to stand apart from others that have come before? What is the ethos or identifying principle of your restaurant; if you are committed to sustainable produce, how will you demonstrate this to your customers?
Research your demographic
This is a good point to follow up right after your compelling introduction, as it is where you are going to prove how carefully you have researched your business idea and why your intended location makes sense. You need to prove there is a valid, tangible consumer base for the product you intend to sell in that particular area. You will need to provide industry research that demonstrably identifies the demographic for which your business is going to cater, proving to your investors that are set to make secure returns with the trade your business will generate.
If you believe the intended location of your restaurant is going to serve more environmentally and ethically conscious millennial diners, how can you prove this? Within the particular community you plan to base yourself, how can you prove your business will outshine your competitors? You are going to need to assess the products offered by other QSRs in that area and stake a claim for why your business will establish itself as a popular, profitable provider of high-quality fast food.
Outline your marketing plan
This is the part where you explain how you intend to sell your brand, giving investors an idea of how expansive you want your business presence to be. If you want to get your restaurant onto the airwaves – with short radio jingles or unique TV adverts – what do you anticipate this is going to cost? Provide a breakdown of how ambitious you’re going to be in your marketing and what kind of finances you’ll need to realize those ambitions.
TV and radio is perhaps a strategy to consider when your brand is firmly established in a local area, when have the foundations of a stable customer base upon which to build your platform for broader advertising. You would be much better off utilizing social media channels to market your restaurant business, as these are usually free and afford your brand with the maximum degree of exposure. Most customers will judge a restaurant by its online presence long before they put a single foot through the front door, so the way you advertise online can really make or break your chances of getting the orders in.
Meanwhile, you can hire a graphic designer to give you a beautiful and easy-to-navigate website, but this kind of service does not come cheap. A far more cost-effective way of getting your restaurant noticed is to create a steady content stream through Facebook or Instagram that will push your products to the desired consumer base, and all at a virtually negligible sum.
Analyze the costs
This is where you are going to assess the scope and scale of your business. Do you plan for your fast food restaurant to remain a single-site entity, or do you have designs for it to spread throughout an entire chain? If you can answer that question, you will need to provide a close estimate of how many members of staff you are going to need to keep your business afloat. The cost analysis is a step-by-step breakdown of how many employees you are going to use, the kind of produce you intend to stock your kitchens with, and how will you price each item on your menu in order to cover your overhead.
If your chosen site is big enough to require a janitor, what is their expected salary going to be? How many chefs are you going to need, and will any of them require specialist training? What is your seating capacity and how many servers do you expect to employ; who will be supplying your ingredients, and why have you selected that particular wholesaler? You will need to expand upon every element of your total expenditure and monthly payroll, clearly explaining why you have made those decisions and why your investors need to put forward the kind of fees you are requesting.
There are so many things to consider when opening up your own restaurant and it can take months to get from the first stages of penning your business plan to finally signing the lease of your business site. Dreams are never as straightforward as we would like them to be, but if you’re a food-lover that really wants to open a restaurant, then you’re in luck, thanks to Buffalo Market.
At Buffalo Market, we have our very own restaurant owner’s blog, giving you insight on a broad overview of need-to-know business areas, from marketing your restaurant to meal ideas for your menu that will get your customers’ mouths watering. There can never be a comprehensive to-do list when running your own business, but out series of articles and news items is a great place to start.