Restaurant 101: Standing out of the crowd

The restaurant business is a competitive industry to start in. Getting your name recognized in the area is one of the most difficult tasks to achieve. However, there are plenty of new restaurants that are opening every day and having success.

They are successful because they did their research and understand their target market. Consider these characteristics when opening or revitalizing your restaurant in order to attract those passer-bys.

As mentioned above, there are a lot of restaurants having success in the current market. There are also many restaurants that are going under. In order to understand what the bad restaurants are doing wrong and what the good restaurants are doing right you have to look at their food, management, location, and style.

Don’t get the wrong impression; there are restaurants that are surviving that may not be doing all of these things right. Maybe they only have decent food, but are in a great location.

You do not have to have all of the following characteristics to be successful, but if you strive to achieve all four, you have a much better chance of surviving and thriving in the restaurant industry.

Great food and great management go hand in hand.

These qualities are important if you are an owner and looking to hire a manager; dedication, customer care, consistency, inventory management, and time-management. A restaurant cannot function if the manager is lacking any of these traits.

They must be dedicated to achieving the highest standard possible. If that standard is not achieved, the manager must be able to deal with the customer who is unhappy. They must make sure the service is consistent to keep customers coming back. And finally, they must be a great time and inventory manager. Food needs to get out quick and still maintain high quality. Customers need to get what they want.

Suppose the customer drove an hour for your scallops and you are 86 (out of inventory) on scallops; that is a sure way to lose a dedicated customer. Maintain high standards when it comes to inventory management. If a manager is able to do all of this and maintain a positive mental attitude in the workplace, they are a master of the craft.

Location can make or break a restaurant.

Even if the restaurant achieves all other necessary characteristics to succeed, it could fail miserably in a bad location. So do the research. You should know how many people walk by the store front every day. Count how many cars are driving through the parking lot on a busy day.

Understand your competition and what businesses are located around you. Locating yourself on Main Street, near a church, hospital, or college is a great example of prime real estate for a restaurant.

What is your style like?

Does the restaurant lack the modern look? If your restaurant needs upgrades or renovations, don’t hesitate to do so. As long as the rest of the characteristics are achieved, (good food, location, and management) you should feel safe making the investment.

Clean and modern restaurant furniture is indispensable in trying to making your customers feel at home. Re-make the bar and get some windows that open up wide in the summer months. Look for some cheap floors that will accent your new furniture well. Taking these steps will surely increase the number of return customers you get. Everyone in the restaurant business knows you need return customers to survive.

It takes a certain breed with a little bit of luck to be able to run a successful restaurant. The amount of work can seem endless and tedious, but the memories your patrons have at your establishment are priceless. It is a thankless job, but as long as you’re making a profit, the ungratefulness tends not to affect you.

  • Mike is an entrepreneur in the restaurant industry who has owned and flipped many restaurants all over the world.

Author: Muzi Mohale

Hi there, am your host and I blog about the tourism industry in South Africa. You're also welcome to contribute your expert content on matters affecting the industry. You can reach me on muzi[at]

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