How to Make the Best Restaurant Business Plan

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Whether your background is in the culinary arts or you’re looking to get into them by opening your own restaurant, chances are you have a creative side.

If you’re creative by nature, your business acumen may be wanting. Let us be clear: that is not always the case.

There are many folks who excel at both the artistic, expressive side of being a restaurant owner as well as the logical, data-driven, business side. You may just be looking for a refresher on what a rock-solid restaurant business plan should include so you can scale up your current restaurant business model.

On the other hand, if you’ve been dreaming of opening up your own restaurant for some time and have been daunted by the business side of things, do not be discouraged!

This checklist is intended for anyone with any level of business or culinary experience, who wants to learn more about the key elements of a comprehensive restaurant business plan.

Let’s explore them all together now! You’ll soon see that opening a restaurant — like any business — can be an involved process. However, it’s hardly impossible. You can do it!

That said, here are a number of essential elements any good restaurant business plan should include.

Conduct Market Research & Competitor Analysis

Developing an understanding of your local market and your competitors as well as a general knowledge base of restaurant startup best practices will help you develop a sound data-backed, strategy-based business plan. You don’t want to jump into opening a restaurant on a whim.

It’s especially important when developing a business plan to do a thorough strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats (SWOT) analysis of your competitors. If that all sounds too daunting and/or time-intensive, then hiring a good restaurant consultant is your next best step.

SWOT analyses and competitive analyses are important because they help you:

  • Understand industry standards so that you can meet and exceed them
  • Discover untapped niche markets
  • Differentiate your products and services
  • Fulfill customers’ desires and solve their problems better than competitors
  • Distinguish your brand
  • Stand out in your marketing
  • Measure your growth

Ultimately, a competitive analysis also shows investors that you are serious, have a deep understanding of what you’re up against, and have a plan for how to operate your business.

Develop a Menu & Pricing Strategy Keeping Your Audience in Mind

Use the market research and competitive analysis you’ve conducted on local culture, competition, and customers to guide your menu creation and pricing strategy.

A pricing strategy is especially important because you want your menu items and their respective prices to reflect your ideal target audience and their purchasing power.

  • You don’t want to price things too low that should be priced higher, getting people wondering about qualtity.
  • You also don’t want to price things too low and lose out on potential profitability.

Create Detailed Operational Plans

There’s a whole lot that goes into running a restaurant successfully. Whether you’re planning to run a fine-dining white-tablecloth establishment, a ghost kitchen, or a buffet-style dine-in/carry-out restaurant, you’ll want to think about several things when developing your operational plans, including:

  • Location : Pick somewhere to rent or buy that’s within budget, but that also gets as much foot traffic as possible. A location with easy access to parking or transit may also be important.
  • Business Model: Dine-in vs. carry-out vs. ghost kitchens are all very different business models that require differnent menus, layouts, staffing, and more. So think about and plan your business model carefully.
  • Restaurant Design: Your restaurant’s design should reflect your branding as well as promote operational efficiency and a positive customer experience.
  • Equipment: Choose your restaurant equipment carefully. It will have a major impact on your kitchen staff’s ability to turn out high-quality dishes in the time required for service.

Create a Marketing Plan, Promotion Strategy & Brand Identity

Marketing and promoting your brand as well as managing reputation management are all important actions.

You want to get the word out about who you are and what you do as well as how you’re different from competitors. You want customers to be clear on why they should patronize your business.

One of the easiest and most cost-effective ways to spread brand awareness is through effective restaurant social media marketing. But don’t just stick to social. We recommend outlining a full and complete multichannel or omnichannel marketing plan that works hand-in-hand with your overall brand identity and unique value proposition.

Create Financial Forecasts for Business Solubility & Funding Buy-In

You’ll want to estimate revenue, expenses, and profit margins for potential investors as part of writing your small restaurant business plan.

You can find restaurant business plan templates online with sections for financials. However, a qualified certified personal accountant (CPA) can also be useful to lean on for helping you prepare financial forecasts.

That’s especially important if you don’t have a business or finance background or know someone who does. (Do things like establishing a profit and loss statement or conducting a breakeven analysis throw you? Talking to a CPA could be a good first step!)

Don’t Forget to Include an Executive Summary

Any good restaurant business plan example worth its weight in gold will have an executive summary included. If you google “How to write a restaurant business plan”, the results you’ll see are likely to include an executive summary section. And, while you may be tempted to skip the executive summary, we do not advise doing so.

Here’s why: an executive summary not only boils down your restaurant concept to potential backers, but also helps you go through the process of getting extremely clear on your own plans, making modifications as needed.

In developing the executive summary, you’re required to think critically about your plans. This can also give you invaluable practice learning how to sell yourself and your business confidently, based on your plan and all the associated data.

Think of the executive summary as your "elevator pitch," a condensed version of your business plan for easy reference.

Get Ready for Your Grand Opening: Shop Restaurant Equipment Now!

Now that you know how to write a solid business plan for your restaurant, you need quality commercial-grade equipment to start your restaurant off on the right foot. We’ve got it all here at GoFoodservice, from fryers and ranges to commercial refrigeration units and right down to service sets and barware.

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