Launching Your Restaurant.

The Greek philosopher Aristotle in his classic book Politics quoted a proverb – “Well begun is half done.” The launch of operations in the restaurant business epitomises this saying. Reputation matters more than anything else in the restaurant business. Reputation is built on how past performance is perceived by people. The success of your restaurant greatly depends on how the experience of your early customers makes them into your strong supporters and advocates. Today, the power of word of mouth has been multiplied many times through social media networks – be it restaurant review sites, blogs, Facebook, Twitter.

A useful analogy is to look at your restaurant launch as the staging of a theatre performance that is scheduled to run for years. Staging a theatrical performance calls for intensive preparation so that the opening day performance is perfect. Think of the Republic Day Parade held every year since 1950 on 26th January. Has there ever been a less-than-perfect performance? Your launch has to be well planned and well prepared.

In terms of a broad checklist your launch plans should not be finalised until you have the big three elements of your restaurant in place – great concept, great location and great food. To this add sufficient financial resources to run operations till break-even point is met. Finally, it is recommended that the main team should be in place at least 4 to 6 weeks before the launch date so that the team can be trained in all operations. All menu items should be tested out. Systems and processes for all customer-dealing situations need to be worked out and drilled. Think of this in terms of conducting rehearsals before the opening day.

It would be useful to think of launching your restaurant operations as a project. The final objective of the project is to create stable operations generating enough revenues, which will help you meet the break-even point on schedule.

The first project task would be to start promotions as soon as you can lock onto a final launch date. Training schedules need to culminate into a soft launch that can be viewed like a final dress rehearsal. Invited non-paying guests should be welcomed to your restaurant for a full service meal.

The launch project should look beyond the launch date and design a process of getting the house in order by ironing out the minor issues that will emerge in the early days of operations. Finally, you should target on ways to increase revenues to ensure you meet your financial targets.

After operations and revenue flows stabilise at acceptable levels, you can explore how to maintain the excitement in your restaurant by building novelty, innovation and improvement.

What do you think about the launch of the restaurants? Write in to Quitters and share your views.


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