FoodfindsAsia.com | 5 Challenges of Running a Restaurant | You’ve dreamt of owning an eatery where you can serve your customers’ healthy delights that are still lip-smacking good, and that dream has finally come true. You’ve got a nice spot in a high-traffic area, which you’ve redecorated to suit your refined taste. Traffic is beginning to pick up, and positive reviews are starting to float around.
Yet, then you begin to realize that running a restaurant is no cakewalk; challenges start appearing when you least expect, forcing you to recalibrate your operations and expectations. Some of the common kinds of headwinds you can expect to run into as a restaurateur include:
Having enough running capital to finance regular expenses as well as restock is a headache many business owners face. When starting out, you need to ensure you have enough float to keep operations humming for at least a year. This is because it will take some time before sales can catch up to your expenses and eventually generate profits. A healthy capital base will also buffer you against fluctuations in the prices of your supplies.
Some entrepreneurs try to plug this gap with stock loans or overdrafts, but this may backfire on you when the repayments begin outweighing your income. Others try to play around with pricing to cover their expenses better. But this too is walking a tightrope as you may price yourself out of the market.
This is one of the more dicey aspects of owning a restaurant. Attracting and retaining quality workers in this business is particularly tricky, as many factors come into play. One is the seasonal tendencies of the industry, which will force you to dispense with part of your workforce during the low season.
Local labor laws also need to be factored in. It may cost you less to get good labor from across the border, but will that get you in trouble with the authorities? Speaking of labor laws, you should keep in mind the minimum wage in your state as you think of curbing your staffing costs.
Technology is riding to the rescue of the modern restaurant with several automated alerts to reduce the need for hands. These allow you to operate with minimal need for servers even during rush hours. Kiosk POS systems not only reduce your need for increased headcount during peak times, they cut down service times while empowering diners.
You need to strike the right balance between the old staples and mixing it up. Folks who want a plain old burger and fries should be able to get their fix, as should those looking for something off the beaten path. What works for most places is having a theme and offering as much variety as you can within that line.
Besides your customers, suppliers are the lifeblood of your restaurant. You, therefore, need to do your homework and get reliable foodstuff suppliers for your meats and vegetables. They need to be able to supply you with the quantities of fresh produce you need in a timely manner. And at the right price—take the time to fish for quotes from different vendors to be sure you’re getting the best deal. Use your bargaining skills as best as you can to get the best price as well as reasonable payment terms. Since you’ll be giving them consistent business, they should give you the best terms they can.
Even as you get trustworthy suppliers, you need to keep a tight leash on your supplies. Ensure your staff are not being wasteful with the foodstuffs and are careful with the cooking utensils and cutlery. How prudent you are in keeping track of your inventory will be the difference between profit and loss. Even if you choose to utilize an inventory software or hire a professional to do your inventory management, you need to touch base with them now and then to keep tabs on what they’re doing. It would be best if you also took the time to do the rounds yourself, even participate in the stocktake.
Here’s your takeout
Running a successful restaurant doesn’t happen by chance- it is the by-product of a careful mix of proper planning, cold calculation, ruthless decision-making, and bold innovation. Above all, you need to be passionate about this business. Only those who live for the satisfied smiles of their patrons will have the stomach for all the ups and downs of restaurant ownership.