How to write a winning business plan - Part two


Expressing the concept and theme

Most restaurants have a theme and a concept. This section of your business plan is where you get to relate your vision of the business to the reader. It's the qualitative, or descriptive, part of the plan, as opposed to the quantitative, financial portion that lays out the numbers. Here you describe what you're going to do – not how you're going to do it.

Creating your menu now

You need to develop your menu to match your concept, attract your desired clientele and beat the competition. You can't do much in the way of predicting what you need to buy in terms of equipment, table settings and so on until you know your menu.

CHEF'S TIP: We recommend you include your menu mix (how many of each dish you're likely to sell in a given time period, such as a shift, a week or a month) in your business plan because it shows potential investors and financiers that you've really done your homework.

Describing your customers

As you develop your plan, you must decide who your customers are. Who are you trying to appeal to? You must know this information before you can even identify your audience or your competition. Pull together a few concise paragraphs that describe your clientele. Include information about their income level, dining frequency and where they currently dine. Make sure to include information highlighting why they're likely to come to your restaurant.

Laying out your market analysis

Your business plan must include a thorough market analysis. A market analysis identifies and describes the market you wish to compete in and your competitors in the market. Include specific information about your competitors that's relevant to your business plan. You can include things like their proximity to your location, their hours of operation and any special draws that you believe contribute to their success.

CHEF'S TIP: Your competition doesn't have to be next door. It could be down the street, in the next neighbourhood or across town. Your direct competitors are those who are offering the same kind of food, the same style of service and similar prices.

Your indirect competitors are those who don't have the same concept or theme you do, but they're vying for the same customers you are. For example, say that you want to open a Thai restaurant. Right next door is a fish and chip shop. If you're both going for a lunch crowd, you're competing with each other.

Crunching the numbers

Your business plan must also include a lot of information about your budget and how you expect to make money. You will need to anticipate what your expenses will be, and forecast how much money you will make through sales. You will also need to estimate when this money will be coming and going, which is your cash flow. We would suggest you over-estimate for your expense projections and be conservative when forecasting your sales.

Consider upskilling through an online accounting course.

How to set it out

It is also important to take into consideration the following for your restaurant business plan.

Cover page and table of contents: The cover page identifies your plan. You may also want to include an executive summary, which is a couple of brief paragraphs explaining what the plan is about.

Management team: This section provides information about you, your management team and any other key employees. Detail the experience, expertise and strengths of your team in this section.

Definition of your business concept: Communicate what it is you are doing and your business concept in your business plan. Your menu: Include a copy of your menu.

Customer demographics: Discuss who your customers will be. Confirm that you have sufficient numbers to draw from in your market to make your business a success. Also detail why your concept and marketing plan will appeal to them.

Market analysis and plan: Here you show the world how your business is different from other restaurants.

Financials: With this section, you're trying to communicate how much money you need, what you're going to spend it on and how you're going to build upon it.

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