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How to start a restaurant

Many people harbour a dream of owning and running a restaurant, but it can mean a lot of hard work without any guarantee of profits. However, it's possible for prospective restaurant owners to increase their chances of success, by considering the following points.

Initial research

Customers are key to success. Finding out what they want is a question of research. Good market research looks at areas including type of cuisine, style of dining (e.g. formal or casual), and price range. Current trends
Check out current trends to determine what's popular and identify if there are any gaps in the market. Don't confuse gaps with a product that people don't want. If there's not much enthusiasm for your original idea, don't be afraid to scrap it and start over.

Consider location

Location plays a huge part in the success of a restaurant business. Think about ways to exploit the local area by buying locally sourced, fresh products, for example. Competition Have a look around at the competition. While setting up an Italian restaurant in a small town might seem a good idea, it becomes less of one if there's already two thriving eateries specialising in pizza and pasta. Unless you can differentiate your restaurant, it might be better to think about another kind of food or location. Reasons for the sale If taking over the premises of an existing restaurant, check out the reasons for the owner selling. While moving away from the area is one thing, leaving because of plummeting profits is another.

Get the finances right

Most people need some kind of financial help when opening a restaurant.
In order to obtain it, they should prepare a detailed financial plan, which will outline the aims of the business, and show projected costs, revenue and profits. For those unsure of where to start, a business adviser or accountant can help. While they may charge for their services, it may prove worthwhile if it secures necessary funding.
Costings and profit projections Even those using their own funds should look at costings and profit projections. Business owners, who don't pay enough attention to the finances, often find their cash disappearing down a black hole.

Other considerations

Staff Employees affect the restaurant's reputation for quality and customer service. Hiring the cheapest labour can backfire. Catering colleges are good places to source staff, as their students are likely to be committed to a career in cooking and/or customer service. Publicity Before the restaurant opens, think about publicising the business. Flyers distributed to local homes and businesses, and newspaper adverts, are good ways of generating custom. Consider hosting a promotional offer on opening night, such as a free bottle of wine per couple, to draw people in.

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