Connect with us

Entrepreneurship

9 Important Tips For Restaurant Entrepreneurs

Published

on

Starting and maintaining a restaurant business is no easy task. There are many factors that come into play. The success rate of restaurants is much lower when compared to other industries. The risk involved turns many people off from opening one of their own. The amount of capital to open a physical location requires investors and involves a lot of red tape. If done right though, a restaurant business can become quite a profitable venture. It’s important to know what you’re getting into.

1) Get a Website

The Yellow Pages are dead. People no longer thumb through a thousand page book to find local businesses. Creating an internet presence is paramount to your restaurants success. Some best practices when creating a website for your restaurant:

2) Include Your Menu

Your customers first and foremost want to know what food you serve. Include a text based menu that lists everything you serve. Don’t just throw up a .pdf file of your menu. Search engines can’t read that and it often looks bad on mobile devices.

  • Hire a search marketing firm. Having a strong presence on Google is like having a free billboard on the world’s busiest highway. The value of being found for free on the internet cannot be overstated.
  • Have a responsive website – because most everyone has a smartphone these days it’s wise to have a website that scales on mobile devices, allowing visitors to peruse your restaurant and jump from page to page without having to “pinch and zoom”.
  • State the essentials – include a page that lists the restaurant location and hours. In fact, it would be smart to list them in the header of the website or even on the homepage. Include holiday hours as well.

There are also several advertising channels that are effective for restaurants. Google AdWords has a simple to use interface. And local services like Yelp provide great mobile packages that cater to consumers on the go.

3) Establish A Relationship With an Online Vendor

There are several websites that provide online equipment and supplies ordering like Instawares – an online restaurant equipment and supplies company that carries everything you need to get started with opening your own restaurant. Having a relationship with your vendor allows you to easily order supplies and equipment when you run out. Often times, these companies will setup a workflow where they’ll recognize when you’re out of stock and detect seasonal patterns in your ordering I.E. – if you’re in a summer tourist-town and are only open during those months a reliable restaurant equipment company will call you in the beginning of summer and check if you’re freezers and refrigerators are working properly. There are several items that require more frequent replacement than others, chief amongst them being dinnerware. Finding a reliable source to buy flatware and dinnerware online eases your nerves as glassware and table items are dropped and broken.

4) Listen (and talk back) to Your Customers

This can be said of any industry but with restaurants it’s extremely important to listen to what the market wants. Restaurants tend to be “word of mouth” businesses that carry on the goodwill of its current customers. Thanks to new channels like social networks, online review sites, and restaurant blogs, it’s easier (and cheaper) than ever to listen to what people are saying about your restaurant. These channels include:

  • Facebook – having a Facebook page for your restaurant is a no-brainer. It’s easy to setup and can be accessed and “liked” by anyone who uses the service. Tie it to your website as well and share updates via your newsfeed. A solid strategy is to blog frequently and mention those posts on your Facebook page. Your effectively killing two birds with one stone by publishing on the web and within Facebook.
  • Twitter – while many see this as the mouthpiece for teenage girls and celebrities it’s actually a very effective way for you to communicate with your customers. Hashtags and “mentions” are the backbone of Twitter and your restaurant can greatly benefit from proper use of them. If someone lodges a complaint then it’s your duty to address this. Twitter allows you to respond to angry customers in public which shows that you care about what people think about your restaurant.
  • Pinterest – this is a must for foodies. Restaurants seem to be a natural fit for this image-based social network. And because of its open API many times when people take pictures of their food at restaurants it’s cross published to their other networks like Facebook and Twitter.

Take these criticisms that appear on social networks and work them into your overall marketing/business strategy. While many see social networks as a vehicle for “promotion” they are most effectively used for communication.

5) Keep Track of Your Customers

This can be done through a number of methods. Back in the day (and probably still) restaurants would do giveaways where customers would drop their business cards in a jar out front for a chance to win a free meal. The restaurants would then collect the email information on the cards and add them to a mailing list, offering catering and corporate party information. While this tactic may still work it’s important to identify more effective ways to collect their information. Building a customer database is important and what you do with that information is even more vital. Email marketing is easier and more effective than ever. You should be segmenting lists and creating different personas based on open rates in response to specific promotions.

6) Set Yourself Apart

Although it’s tempting to offer everything you can possibly cook it’s wise to specialize in one area. If people want variety they will go to a generic restaurant like Applebees or Outback steakhouse where they can get everything from spicy oriental chicken to a porterhouse steak. Be good at one thing and stick to it. Think about the most famous restaurants where you live: their often packed to the gills on weekend nights. Going out to eat is an experience and you need to sell your restaurant as such. You don’t see lines stretching around the block for Olive Garden. What you do see lines for is “Joe’s Steamhouse Lounge” – a restaurant that may specialize in seafood.

7) Service, Service, Service

Speaking of customer complaints. Most unpleasant experiences related to restaurants stem not from undercooked food or cheap wine, but customer service. There are several ways to ensure a quality customer experience:

  • Hire a good wait staff – do background checks, ask for references and have potential hires sit down with another member of your staff (more perspectives the better). Thoroughly vetting your staff ensures that you won’t be hiring an rotten eggs.
  • You get what (who) you pay for – this old adage applies to restaurants as well. What do you expect if you’re paying your staff $4/hour?
  • Know your demographic – if you’re opening a sports=themed restaurant it may be wise to hire more women as waiters, considering that most of your clientele will be men. Likewise if you’re opening a quirky organic breakfast place you may want to aim for a more eclectic waitstaff.

8) Do Competitive Research

Go out and see what your competitors are doing. Eat at other restaurants and take notes. Notice what others are doing right and try to emulate that in your restaurant. Also take notice of things they’re doing wrong and try not to repeat it. Restaurant owners are some of the most creative, business minded people in the world. Creating an experience that’s original and different will have people appreciate your restaurant and keep coming back for more. There’s also something to be learned from restaurant chains as well. There’s several reasons why they’ve grown to such national (and in some cases international) prominence. I.E.- Cracker Barrel. They have a schtick right? When you walk in there’s an old-timey gift shop filled with knick knacks and rocking chairs. They serve “home-cooked” meals. They’re marketing and knick knack store are meant to give people a familiar comfort.

9) Target The Right Demographic

Understanding where the wallets are is important if you want to last in the restaurant business. If you’re catering towards a lower-income demographic then you want your marketing to reflect that. In most cases though, you want to target consumers with the most money to spend. This way you can spend more on making your restaurant great and offering the best foods and service. If you’re going after an older crowd you must realize that that’s a well which will eventually run dry. Young up-and-comers is the holy grail of demographics because this crowd will form eating habits that they’ll carry over to their social circles and family. That’s why understanding modern marketing principles is necessary to capture this demographic. Young, affluent consumers are extremely savvy thanks to modern technologies like smartphones, iPads, and other connected devices.

_____________________________

About the Author

This article was written and produced by a Clayton Curtis of Social Hospitality™, a boutique digital marketing agency. Focusing on social media and SEO along with copywriting and editing for websites, blogs, and enewsletters, Social Hospitality helps businesses nurture online relationships and create loyal customers. see more.

Callum Connects

Benedict Heng, Founder of Mr. Farmer

Published

on

Benedict Heng is bringing back the ‘kampong’ days of having the Ho Liao (good ingredients) for Ho Jiak (good tasting) food.

What’s your story?
I’m Ben from Mr. Farmer. Mr. Farmer is an online grocer dedicated to supplying the freshest produce to our customers. We believe in sustainable and ethical farming. Since a young age, I have always been an avid food lover (especially meats), developing a strong interest in all things delicious. That is why I ventured into the F&B industry, working as a junior cook for 3 years.

Midway through my career, I made a move to the finance industry to pursue monetary rewards. I dove into high-risk investments and I made lots of money from these investments. However, the good fortune did not last long and all these came crashing down when I suffered a tremendous loss. This coincided with the time that I had just started my own family and it was a huge blow to me both materially and mentally. It was this crash that made me realize that this life wasn’t for me. I went on a hiatus and eventually, it was only through the strong support from my family that I managed to tide over this tough episode.

I went back to help the family business and this was how Mr Farmer came about. My family has been in the food industry for many decades and one thing they noticed from years of experience is that sustainable farming practices are not as developed as in Europe. This is why through Mr Farmer, we hope that we can provide the best quality products to families out there who want the best ingredients for their loved ones.

What excites you most about your industry?
Delicious and wholesome food excites me. I believe food is a critical component of life and it brings people together. The opportunity to serve the community with fresh produce for a healthy life, that brings me joy.

I feel that there is still so much more we can do to improve the quality of food and bring it to the masses. One of the key components of ensuring greater quality of food is to support ethical and sustainable farming. Due to commercialization and urbanization, most farming practices these days are no longer the way they were in the old “kampong” times. Shortcuts are taken, standards are compromised, all in the name of profit. At Mr. Farmer, profit is important too but we want to focus on the concept of One Welfare – sustainable farming directly impacts our health. Our vision is to bring back the ‘kampong’ days of having the Ho Liao (good ingredients) for Ho Jiak (good tasting) food.

What’s your connection to Asia?
I was born and raised in Singapore. I call Singapore my home as it’s where my family and close friends are. I also travel frequently to Malaysia and APAC for work.

Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
It’s definitely Singapore. There is just so much this tiny city can offer! Singapore has been globally recognized for its top-notch business environment providing its residents with developed infrastructure, political stability and excellent connectivity. These factors have given us an outstanding support system for businesses to strive.

What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
Surround yourself with people that inspire you, challenge you to rise higher, make you better and, keep them in your life.

Who inspires you?
I draw inspiration from my uncle, who is the head of both the family and business. He takes care of our family matters at home and manages hundreds of employees at work. Handling both the family and business side of things can be tricky, but he has shown me that success can be sustainable and done with a conscience. His guiding philosophy of handling business and family is simply, to have a big heart.

What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
Even just one day of separation from the day the meat is slaughtered, makes a world of difference to its flavour.

If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
I have come to learn that awareness is the beginning of everything. If I had my time again, I would have probably spent more time figuring out who I truly am and with that self-awareness, begun to lead my life with more purpose and meaning.

How do you unwind?
I like to spend my free time sipping white coffee at my favourite coffee place. I enjoy taking in the surrounding sights and letting my mind wander freely. It allows me to unwind and gain clarity at the same time. It also helps me organize my thoughts to prepare for the week ahead.

Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
It would be Bangkok as the people there are genuinely friendly and hospitable. They say people are what defines the city and I couldn’t agree more with this. I also enjoy the ‘laid back’ vibe of Bangkok. Not to mention Bangkok has all the good food and awesome shopping choices too!

Everyone in business should read this book:
“Spin selling” by Neil Reckham. It’s an amazing book that teaches you a process designed to help you successfully sell your products and services to business buyers.

Shameless plug for your business:
We at Mr. Farmer have the best tasting meats in Singapore, do a blind test and you will know why it’s Michelin chefs’ preferred choice. Not only are we very confident about the taste, we are also proud to say that all our products are chemical, hormone and antibiotic free. We also focus a lot on supporting ethical and sustainable farming practices believing in the ‘One Welfare’ concept. Do check us out if you enjoy good quality food like us!

How can people connect with you?
[email protected]

This interview is part of the ‘Callum Connect’ series of more than 500 interviews

Callum Laing is an entrepreneur and investor based in Singapore. He has previously started,
built and sold half a dozen businesses and is now a Partner at Unity-Group Private Equity and Co-Founder of The Marketing Group PLC. He is the author two best selling books ‘Progressive Partnerships’ and ‘Agglomerate’.

Connect with Callum here:
twitter.com/laingcallum
linkedin.com/in/callumlaing
Download free copies of his books here: www.callumlaing.com

Continue Reading

Callum Connects

Zac Chua, Founder & CEO of The Kettle Gourmet

Published

on

Zac Chua’s popcorn business validated itself straight away and fast tracked him to the startup world. Zac now employs 11 people and shifts 500 bags of popcorn daily.

What’s your story?
It’s a crazy one. It was an accidental startup. If you think about it, no university graduate would ever dream of becoming a popcorn seller. We crashed our first tech event to validate our idea and it took off from there. I bought a logo for $7 from a designers marketplace, printed some cheap name cards, and built a 1 page landing page. Sales started pouring in and eventually, we were serving B2B clients (corporate pantries) and we have never looked back. Today we move about 500 bags daily, we have 11 employees and we are growing. Talk about a validation that worked in our favour.

What excites you most about your industry?
It’s food! Everybody loves food! In Singapore the F&B scene is brutally competitive and it spurs me on to fight and compete for market share and to prove to myself that I can do it. It keeps me going and I won’t stop until we become the market leader.

What’s your connection to Asia?
I was born in Singapore, and have traveled to most of Southeast Asia.

Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
Singapore! Even though Singapore has a high cost of living, the Government is actually very supportive of startups. They provide grants for us to tap into, and the technological infrastructure makes it possible for us to compete on a global scale. I believe if you can succeed in your business in Singapore, you can succeed in most of Southeast Asia.

What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
You only need to be right once, and the rest is history.

Who inspires you?
My father, who was a VC. In fact he was the one who gave me the best piece of advice which I shared above. Having one successful exit, he showed me that it’s okay to fail a million times – all it takes is just one time for you to win in business and in life.

What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
The power of compounding.

  • Mary and John are the same age.
  • Mary saves $2k annually from the age of 19-25 – so she puts $14k into her portfolio
  • John saves $2k annually from the age of 26-65 – so he puts $80k into his portfolio, but 7 years after Mary.
  • If both are able to generate 10% per annum, who would have more at age 65?
  • John of course! But how much more?
  • Mary will have $944,641 whilst John will have $973,704
  • Think about it! Mary puts in only $14k but John delays for 7 years and puts in $80k.

CRAZY RIGHT!?!?

If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
Nothing, my mistakes taught me how to become a better me. But if I really must choose, I’d say take more time to find the right business partner.

How do you unwind?
Poker, Mahjong and Dota 2.

Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
Vietnam! Things are cheap, people are warm and friendly, and their coffee fills up my life. I would love to retire there if possible.

Everyone in business should read this book:
The richest man in Babylon

Shameless plug for your business:
We don’t need a plug. Just try our competitors and you’ll understand why!

How can people connect with you?
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/chuazongyou
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/zacchua

This interview is part of the ‘Callum Connect’ series of more than 500 interviews

Callum Laing is an entrepreneur and investor based in Singapore. He has previously started,
built and sold half a dozen businesses and is now a Partner at Unity-Group Private Equity and Co-Founder of The Marketing Group PLC. He is the author two best selling books ‘Progressive Partnerships’ and ‘Agglomerate’.

Connect with Callum here:
twitter.com/laingcallum
linkedin.com/in/callumlaing
Download free copies of his books here: www.callumlaing.com

Continue Reading

Trending