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Starting a business

Opening a restaurant for the first time

5 min read

Opening a restaurant is an exciting dream for many. Whether you’re launching a tapas spot, authentic Italian, or a fun pizzeria, owning a restaurant is one of the most rewarding jobs you’ll find.

Starting a restaurant may be challenging. But with the right business plan, the process can be enjoyable and fulfilling.

Creating your business plan

One of the first things you should do when opening a restaurant, even before you find a premises, is to create a restaurant business plan. This document should outline everything you want from your business and identify how it will become a success.

Not only can an effective business plan help you impress potential investors, but it can also give you a clear vision for the future.

Your restaurant business plan should include:

  • An executive summary – this will provide an overview of your restaurant, including short and long-term goals.
  • A description of your company – here, you can go into more detail about your company, what it will offer and how you plan to do this.
  • The target audience – you’ll need to identify the people you aim to attract to your restaurant.
  • Employee requirements – use this section to detail the number of staff you require and what you expect from them, i.e., qualifications, qualities, etc.
  • Supplier information - where will you source your supplies from?
  • Menus - identify the different menu options you will provide.
  • Finances – include details of any funding or grants you expect to get. If you’re applying for a loan, you must include your repayment plan.
  • Your marketing strategy - state how you will market your restaurant (social media, print, campaigns).
  • SWOT analysis – outline your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats.
  • Market research - focus groups, qualitative research and competitor analysis to ensure you can attract the right customers in the best ways.
  • Competitor analysis and USPs - identify your main competitors and list what makes you unique.
  • Venue options and restaurant designs - provide visual data of how your restaurant will look.

Finding the perfect spot

Where you choose to locate your restaurant is vital. It can impact the type of customers you get and even the time of day they visit. It’s best not to rely on the build-it-and-they-will-come method.

Choosing a prime location like a city centre is an effective way of attracting customers. However, rental costs are likely to be higher, so you’ll need to factor this in and consider if your profits will outweigh your overheads. An alternative would be to select a less busy location. In this case, you’d need to invest more heavily in marketing to get customers through the door.

As well as choosing a suitable location, you should also consider the following:

  • building size
  • permits
  • lease options
  • running costs
  • parking options for customers
  • local competition
  • complementary businesses nearby.

Standards and food safety

When opening a restaurant, you’ll need to register with your local authority at least 28 days before trading or before you start any food operations. You can do this on the government website.

You’ll also need to follow existing food standards. This will involve conducting a series of risk assessments using the Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) procedures. You can also use a HACCP-based Food Safety Management System such as the Safer Food Better Business Guide.

As well as risk assessments, you’ll need to consider:

  • food hygiene
  • food hygiene training
  • allergen management
  • traceability
  • avoiding food crime
  • health and safety.

How much does it cost to set up a restaurant?

According to research, the average cost of setting up a new restaurant in the UK is around £42,000. But it’s important to remember that your start-up costs will depend on the size and type of restaurant you’re opening, as well as the location you choose.

The main costs you’ll need to consider:

  • premises (lease or ownership)
  • staff
  • equipment and supplies
  • energy
  • permits and licences, e.g. alcohol
  • legal fees
  • advertising.

How to manage payments

The best restaurants not only provide great food but also a great experience. This includes the payment process. Your customers will appreciate having a choice of ways to pay, as it helps to make the process easier and more convenient.

Offering multiple payment options can help boost profits as you’re less likely to have customers turned away for not having cash. Giving guests a choice of how they pay – and being clear about that with signage – is a great way to hit the ground running when opening a new restaurant. This is especially true if you can be more flexible than your competitors.

Standard restaurant payment methods include:

  • cash
  • cheques
  • debit cards
  • credit cards
  • contactless payments
  • Apple and Google Pay.

To improve your restaurant payment processing, invest in a POS system so that your staff can take payments on the move and don’t have to rely on a till. This may help to speed up the way you process payments and receipts. And it could provide added convenience to customers as they can pay from the comfort of their seats.

Opening a restaurant is an exciting venture. And if you’re lucky enough to live out this dream, you’ll want to maximise your chances of success. Creating a suitable restaurant business plan, ensuring you meet all standards for food safety, and selecting suitable tools for restaurant payment processing are ways in which you can do this.

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This has been prepared by Tyl by NatWest for informational purposes only and should not be treated as advice or a recommendation. There may be other considerations relevant to you and your business, so you should undertake your own independent research.

Tyl by NatWest makes no representation, warranty, undertaking or assurance (express or implied) with respect to the adequacy, accuracy, completeness, or reasonableness of the information provided.

Tyl by NatWest accepts no liability for any direct, indirect, or consequential losses (in contract, tort or otherwise) arising from the use of the information contained herein. However, this shall not restrict, exclude, or limit any duty or liability to any person under any applicable laws or regulations of any jurisdiction which may not be lawfully disclaimed.

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