Devising a business plan for the opening of your restaurant is all in the details. Sure, it is about the actual bricks and mortar of where your restaurant will be located, the tangibility and appeal of the décor, the arrangement of the tables and the design and layout of the bar … But it is also about the “construction” or template of the business plan: A solid plan on paper to not only make your vision come together in an organized way, but a plan to make your restaurant dreams a reality with a roadmap for success.
One key mantra to keep in mind is that business is business. Of course, all restaurant owners and operators want the same thing: to serve great food to a packed dining room filled with happy guests every night.
But if the business plan doesn't work for you from beginning to end, the only thing you will be left with is the dream of serving great food, and seeing a full dining room. If your plan isn’t in order, you won’t be taking any orders.
Does a business plan have to be perfect from the onset? No. But it does have to encompass key elements to make it work. The best business plans are working documents that are constantly evaluated and consistently evolving.
The Concept. A good plan starts with a great vision. A successful concept development is two-fold: First, put your vision into one, succinct mission statement to encompass your inspiration, the look, feel and experience you want to convey. Next, expand upon the mission statement to develop your brand concept – from menu offerings to color scheme to seating to floor plan.
The Brand. Your mission statement will be used to develop the brand. Your brand enhances and further explains the details of your vision. All elements flow through the brand – like a coffee filter. Everything should pass through your brand filter; not only your vision and inspiration, but also operational strategies, points of difference, logo, identity and menu fonts/design, the creation of marketing, promotional outreach and social media initiatives, and more.
The Business Model. This is also known as ‘The Money.’ Remember: Business is Business. Realistic financials and fact-based budgeting is key. And it all starts with a successful capitol raise. Obtaining the money you need to open (and stay open) starts with a solid financial business model that will attract investors. Business plan financials should include a general outline of your operating systems budget and expected financials, such as rent and utilities, food costs, capacity, salaries, insurance, and even a conservative growth plan.
The Experts. If writing a restaurant business plan is not your forte, hiring a professional, experienced restaurant consulting team to guide you is worth the investment. Look to be part of the collaborative process so that everything that’s in your head and vision is heard and documented. Your goal here is to construct a business plan tailored to your vision, not anybody else’s.
Once the business plan is put on paper, it will be used as the model to create an engaging and detailed, yet succinct presentation that not only supports but also mirrors your business plan. Think of the presentation and the execution as another opportunity to engage, enlighten and impress your audience – and put your dream on display!
In the end, can a business plan be tweaked to suit your needs and the needs of investors, employees and/or guests even after opening night? Yes! It’s a fluid document that evolves as the reality of your business evolves.
To be successful, a restaurant is always a work in progress. But setting the foundation with a solid business plan will give your business the strength to grow.