10 Things Every Restaurant Needs for Success

Restaurants are just starting to open up in my area (Los Angeles) as more and more people get the vaccine and restrictions are lifted.

Have you ever thought of running your own restaurant?

It’s not an easy career, and 60% of restaurants fail within their first year of operation and 80% will shut down after 5 years. You must be absolutely passionate about your field and willing to put in the work even when things get tough.

Here are 10 things every restaurant needs for success.

1. Remember Safety First

Don’t start your business without setting up small business insurance first.

If a customer slips on the floor and falls, then your restaurant could be liable for their injury and medical costs. You might also have to pay to replace their cell phone if it was damaged during the fall.

Also, worker injuries may lead to medical payments, sick days, and extra stress for the other employees who have to cover their work. A broken fridge could spoil the food, so you’ll have to pay to replace all the lost ingredients.

There are several reasons why small business health insurance is needed. Many of these revolve around hiring and retaining employees. Potential new hires will be more attracted to a restaurant with a robust employee benefits package. While health insurance forms a small part of that, it can be an attractive quality.

That will lead to a higher standard of employee being attracted to your restaurant. They’ll also be more likely to work with you long-term. Workers are less likely to leave a company if they’ll be giving up the benefits of the job. The same can be said for many other employee benefits, however.

With health insurance, specifically, employees are less likely to take sick days during the year. That’s primarily because they can get things treated much quicker with health insurance. That should lead to fewer absence-related costs, which will reduce your operational expenses. That isn’t the only way that costs shouldn’t be too high.

Your restaurant might qualify for tax deductions by paying for employee health insurance. While the tax credit you get will vary depending on your business, this could be much larger than you’d expect. If you’re worried about costs, then that should put many of your worries at ease.

Speaking of cost, small business health insurance can be much more affordable than you’d think. Group plans typically cost much less per person than an individual plan. The exact cost will vary from provider to provider, but it shouldn’t be as expensive as one person’s premium multiplied by how many employees you have.

2. Build Your Online Presence

Your website is the first introduction to your business for many of your customers. A solid online presence promotes your brand to your local community, so take the time to leverage your website.

People are likely to find your business through a Google search, so focus on SEO strategies. Use original images of your actual dishes from your menu, and you might hire a professional photographer to get the best results. 

Add your restaurant to Google Maps for free using the Google My Business platform, and your business will rank higher in the SERPs for local searches on desktop and mobile devices. 

3. Be Active on Social Media

A Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram are great ways to reach out to your customers and share your latest news. Any social media platform a restaurant uses can elevate their brand awareness and reputation among the foodie community.

Start conversations with your followers, ask for feedback or suggestions, and of course, share beautiful images of your delicious food!

4. Set the Scene

It’s a cliché, but Instagram-worthy restaurants are more likely to attract social media influencers, bloggers, food reviews, and journalists.

Restaurants with unique theming attract people who wan to take their pictures and share their experiences on social media. Consider adding more thought to your decor, creating photo spots, or promoting a rooftop space with breathtaking city views.

5. Consider Dietary Restrictions

Think about the food preferences in your local community. For example, I live in Los Angeles where there is a huge vegan and vegetarian community (like me!), and the restaurants reflect these tendencies. I’ve lived all over the United States, but my favorite cities have always been where I can easily find vegan food.

Food intolerances and allergies are on the rise, so review the most frequent allergies and intolerance risks and make sure your restaurant can offer appropriate substitutes. 

6. Watch Your Food Budget

Of course, you want delicious and exciting food for your customers, but that doesn’t mean you should overspend.

As a guideline, your restaurant food budget shouldn’t exceed one-third of your entire budget. Anything too high will rapidly drain your finances and repel customers. If your costs are too low, then you could face catering challenges and a loss of interest from your customers.

7. Offer Delivery

The pandemic has proven that a restaurant can’t succeed without a delivery option, either from their own staff or through a delivery app such as Uber Eats.

Set up a delivery system as soon as possible to appeal to customers who don’t want to risk their health or simply enjoy the comforts of home. 

8. Change Up Your Menu But Keep the Classics 

Your customers will appreciate always being able to find their favorites on your menu no matter what time of year they visit your restaurant.

If you must change things up from time to time, then consider seasonal produce or meals that fit a specific holiday or time of year. A successful restaurant has the right balance between favorite staples and interesting specials. 

9. Don’t Forget a Kids’ Menu

No kid wants the “weird” foods their parents are eating, so be sure to offer kid-friendly versions of your best-selling meals so as not to alienate families.

Remember dietary restrictions, and keep the portions small and manageable. The parents will thank you when their kids are happy, and that leads to repeat business.

10. Make Accessibility a Priority

You’re legally required to make your restaurant accessible to your customers with disabilities.

Customers with mobility issues must be able to access the venue effortlessly with their wheelchairs, braces, or other mobility devices. People with vision impairments need a Braille menu. Consider offering a quiet(er) room for people with sensory issues.

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