The basics of restaurant success (Have you got what it takes?)


10 Ingredients of a successful restaurant owner

When you think of successful café owners and restaurateurs, who are you thinking about? Why do you think they've gotten as far as they have? What qualities about them or skills do they have that you admire? We've done some digging around and we've come up with a top 10 list of traits shared by successful restaurateurs.


1. Good Planning Skills

True to the old adage, failing to plan is planning to fail. Spend a lot of time researching and planning out how you're going to create your business. Trust us: this is the big step that you don't want to skimp on. Even if you've been in hospitality before, running your own venture is a whole other ballgame.

These days there are some great productivity tools and you can usually get them to sync on the cloud so you can see the same thing across your computer, iPad and phone. Now is a good time to start playing around and acquainting yourself with them, if you haven't already. Whatever tool you choose will become your gospel throughout this process. Gone are the days of not-so-sticky sticky notes that seem to cling to your desk/wall/door/ for dear life.

Life Hacker polled the online community for the best project managements tools. Here are the results: from 2,316 votes, the winner was Evernote with 778 votes at 33.59%, Trello came second with 20.47%, Asana at 17.27%, Microsoft OneNote at 13.99% and Azendoo at 14.68%.

You'll also need to identify possible roadblocks or challenges you might encounter, like managing expenses and cash flow, or mapping out contingency plans if something goes awry, like produce you're counting on being not available or financially viable at a particular time.

2. Consistency

Consistency is so important in hospitality. Think about how many times you've sworn to never return to a restaurant or café because a waiter was snobby or the tablecloths were dirty. Imagine if one of your waiters or servers took the mobile phone number of a female diner (off the competition form she'd just filled out) and then texted her throughout her dinner (true story, read it here on Reddit).

You need to put a lot of thought into how you can maintain consistency not just with the quality of your food and beverage offering, but also your customer service levels. In order for this to really work, you have to get your staff to buy into it. You need to be clear so everyone's on the same page about what is expected of them and what level of service your customers expect. Think carefully about what kind of customers you're looking to attract with your new venture, and what kind of things you can do to win them over and have them coming back for more!

3. Good Communication

Although being a good communicator is important for pretty much all aspects of your life, when it comes to running your own business in particular, it's up to you to take the reins.

Effective communication is vital in the hospitality industry! If you put time and consideration into good communication with your staff, your customers, your investors and your suppliers, you will reap the benefits ten-fold. For example, encourage staff to provide their feedback and hold regular meetings to let them know of important updates and what's going on in the business.

When it comes to your potential customers, how can you get in on the conversation and make them think of your business when they want to go out for breakfast/lunch/dinner/dessert/drinks/etc? Can they find information about you online, like your menu options and location? Are there particular features about your business that would appeal to them, for example, ample parking space or a fancy boutique coffee offering?


4. Positivity

Think about the bad experiences you've had with people in the hospitality industry. Remember that time you were out for dinner and you constantly had to crane your neck looking around to spot a waiter to ask for more water? Or that time those two girls made you wait a few minutes so they could finish their conversation before you could order your lunch, even though you were obviously in a rush? Or maybe the cashier looked so bored you wondered why they even bothered to show up for work at all.

Negative experiences tend to etch themselves deeper in our psyche than the positive experiences, so don't let this happen to your restaurant! Consider the learnings from your own experiences and inject the positives into your business. Work hard to create an environment people want to be a part of and where they feel happy and supported. If your staff is giving off happy, friendly vibes this will rub off on your customers and they'll want to keep returning. Don't ever underestimate the power of positivity!

5. Visibility

This might sound like a no-brainer, but if you want to be successful in the restaurant game, you need to be on-site at your premises as much as possible. If you're not, you're neglecting the important task of getting to know your customers, motivating your staff, and immersing yourself in the everyday running of your business.

6. Devotion to Duty

If you don't love what you do, sooner or later your drive will lag, which will definitely affect your bottom line. Passion is contagious. If your staff don't feel the love, you can't expect them to sustain a great attitude or 'go the extra mile' for your business – but remember this too: apathy is also contagious. More than that, your customers want to know you care about giving them the best experience possible and offering a fantastic atmosphere in which they can dine. You can't do that without passion for what you do.

7. Leadership

Running a food-service business can be extremely stressful, with many things competing for your attention, all at the same time, like customer demands, suppliers, staff issues, and so on. If you're to stay on top of everything, you need to be able to remain cool, calm and collected. While everyone else is losing their head, you have to be the one to guide them through.

8. Balance / Multitask

No, we don't mean balancing three plates on your arm and a bowl on your head – although we'd like to see it done! Instead, it's important that you can balance the details of the everyday running of a restaurant, café or takeaway establishment (staff issues, paperwork, admin, supplier relationships, finances) with the end result, i.e. great food and happy customers. Get the balance right, and you're on a winner.

9. Creativity and the Ability to Think Outside the Box

A big part of your ability to draw in business is about identifying the message you want to send to potential customers and making sure it's communicated. Look at what the competition is doing, and see if you can offer something more or different. A great place to start is by working out what is unique about your business. Is it the food, the location, the portions, the cost? Include your point of difference in your business plan. It will make it easier to convince potential financiers that you have a competitive edge.

10. Courage to Dream

There is an innate drive in all of us to do better, be better. Dreams are highly valuable commodities that propel us forward and give us energy. Don't be afraid to dream big and go after what you want! Here at Silver Chef, we're determined to help you achieve your hospitality dreams. We were once a small business too remember; one person's idea that snowballed into something great. #BringBackTheDream!

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