How Much Does It Cost To Open a Restaurant? 2020 Restaurant Startup Costs

Being a restaurant owner is hard work, but it’s rewarding. If you’re considering getting into the industry, there’s one big question you’re probably wondering: How much is this going to cost? Restaurant startup costs can be seriously expensive, which is an obstacle to many would-be restaurant owners.

The most difficult parts of being a restaurant owner are the beginning phases of opening your restaurant. In this stage you have to see what draws in customers, where you can cut expenses, how to improve the customer experience without spending money, and so on. So, how much does it cost to open a restaurant? Let’s look at the most common costs restaurant owners must face.

Restaurant Startup Costs

 

Simply put, the median cost to open a restaurant is around $375,000. That’s a good estimate to give you an idea of what your price range should be, but by no means is that number set in stone. Some estimates say it costs about $3000 per seat in your restaurant, taking all things into account.

There are many factors that go into starting a restaurant, and we’ve listed some to help you get started. Location is also a major factor, as it will affect all of your prices and especially the cost of leasing a commercial space. Without factoring in location-based changes in cost, let’s look at what you need to open a restaurant.

 

Restaurant Startup Checklist

 

The following are the key factors to consider when making your restaurant startup cost breakdown.

    • Food & Beverages
    • Labor
    • Rent
    • Equipment & Maintenance
    • Technology
    • Marketing
    • Utilities & Bills
    • Paperwork & Licensing
    • Hidden Costs & Losses

 

Food & Beverages

 

One of the biggest recurring costs on this list is food and beverage. The success of your restaurant is determined largely by the food you sell, and more importantly, how profitable it is to sell that food.

A good rule of thumb to follow when considering your menu items is the rule of thirds. This means simply that the cost of your food’s raw materials should be about one third of the sale price. This is to help run a profitable operation, but it’s not a law set in stone.

Menu items like potatoes (in all forms) and sodas are meant to be served alongside main dishes, and they both see very high profit margins. Cups of soda will only cost a few cents each from a soda machine, but are sold for a couple of dollars. On the other end of the spectrum, selling a steak at a high end restaurant might not be as profitable, but is still an essential menu item. In this case, the rest of the profits are made up by other menu items like wines or side dishes.

Taking that into consideration, your food expenses should take up about 28%-35% of money brought in from sales. When you’re just starting out, contact different food suppliers to test out quality and budgets, and use thorough planning to figure out the food and beverage costs you’ll face at the beginning and when restocking.

 

Labor

 

In order to keep operations smooth and customers happy, you’ll want to keep your employees happy. Many people treat working at a restaurant as a part time job. Therefor,e people are more likely to quit a restaurant job than most other jobs. Training employees costs money, and loyal employees are more productive. In addition, keeping a loyal rotation of workers makes scheduling easier.

It’s also important not to over-hire employees in the beginning stages of the business. This can create frustration, and add to your overhead expenses.

The final thing to consider is what kind of salary you want to make. As mentioned previously, restaurant owners will take a reduced salary in the early years so that their business will get a good head start. This can help you establish yourself and gain forward momentum as you enter the industry.

That being said, similar to food expenses, labor expenses should take roughly one third of your total sales. Budget for this cost in the beginning, taking into consideration the hours it will take to effectively train an all-new staff.

 

Rent

 

Rent is another large recurring expense you’ll run into. This cost, like the previous ones, can vary extremely depending on some key factors. The most important factors when considering rent are location, size, and type of business.

Clearly choosing a location in Times Square is going to cost more than one in a small town in Wisconsin. That being said, paying for these high traffic locations could play out for big profit in the long run. It can be equally as smart, however, to fill a hole in a smaller market. Ask yourself if you want to lead a high-risk high-reward big city business, a low-risk reliable small market business, or somewhere in between.

The next factor is size. Before taxes, rent in Manhattan averages at $120 per square foot. That number is reduced to less than half when considering locations in LA. Smaller towns and cities are harder to estimate, but the size of your restaurant should suit your restaurant’s style. If your dream is to open a diner, you’ll want to ensure that you can sit as many customers as possible without making them feel crowded, or wasting space.

Finally, the type of business you want to run will determine what kind of space you want to obtain. If you want to run a small food takeout food operation but lack the resources and money to rent a building, consider managing a food truck. Depending on the location (and weather), food trucks can be an extremely profitable way to go about your business.

Different types of food service businesses will also require a different space in terms of equipment. A full service restaurant will likely need a larger kitchen with room for more kitchen equipment. A coffee shop may only need the space behind the counter and a space for dishes.

Opening a coffee shop? Food truck? Bar? Casual sit down? Hibachi? Takeout? Depending on your budget and aspirations, these are drastically different businesses to run. Costs for rent will vary.

One final note: depending on the space you rent, you may also have to pay for remodeling or renovations to fit your restaurant needs. If the space you find isn’t to your specifications, consider remodeling costs along with rent.

 

Equipment and Maintenance

 

Restaurants need equipment – almost all businesses do to some degree. Depending on the style of your restaurant and the cuisine served, you’ll need different types of equipment at different costs.

A full-service restaurant will need a big kitchen with plenty of refrigerator and freezer space, ovens, stoves, dishwashers, and other kitchen equipment. Commercial kitchen equipment can be expensive, so it may be wise to buy used. If you rent a former restaurant, it may come with some equipment, but you’ll need to make sure it’s in proper working order. Maintenance costs in general should be factored in, whether you buy new or used kitchen equipment.

As we said, different restaurants will need different equipment. A coffee shop may only need a few high end coffee and espresso machines, while a pizza shop may need a large brick oven pizza. Other, less expensive equipment should be considered as well, like pots and pans for cooking, storage containers, and more.

On the front end of the restaurant, you’ll also need items like dishes, cups, cutlery, furniture, and more. When starting out a restaurant, your budget should even consider costs like decor for the restaurant.

 

Technology

 

There’s a lot of technology out there to make your job as a restaurant owner easier, and more profitable. Point of Sale (POS) system technology is becoming increasingly popular, and with good reason. This is the software that people use to run their computerized registers. They automatically keep track of sales throughout the day, and will even keep track of inventory and sales trends.

In the long term, this technology is essential, but it might be worth holding off in the early stages. If you’re tight on money from the start, cutting software costs that aren’t 100% necessary can be a good way to find some wiggle room in your budget. That being said, restaurant POS systems will see a lot of use in the long term, and will be worth investing in once you’re on your feet. They can save you a lot of time and money.

There are also restaurant reservation systems to consider, table management software, waitlists, and more. Some software can encompass all of these tools – but usually at a high price.

 

Marketing

 

Marketing is another cost that will vary depending on how much you choose to invest in it. If you know you have the budget for it, hiring a team to promote your restaurant can be a reliable, mess-free way to handle that end of things. Our restaurant marketing plan is free here on Restaurant Clicks, but often implementing a full marketing campaign is too time-consuming for restaurant owners.

That being said, if your budget is tight, there are ways to get your name out there without breaking the bank. Make sure your restaurant’s website is easily searchable on Google, and that you can clearly navigate to your restaurant’s menu, location, phone number, and hours of operation.

Once all of these things are all set up, you can start promoting your restaurant digitally. Creating a social media presence, or buying digital ad space are great ways to do this.

Word of mouth recommendations can go a long way as well. People run into thousands of ads on a daily basis, and don’t pay much attention when passing one by. However, people are much more likely to visit a restaurant after getting a recommendation from a friend. This is why customer service is important, because in the long term building a positive reputation for your business will be what helps you draw in more customers. It’s also why you want to make sure you have positive ratings on restaurant review sites.

Utilities & Bills

 

The price of utilities is often what takes restaurant owners by surprise. It’s important to do your research before signing with what seems to be the most simple option. If you’re moving into a previously owned building, some utility companies will even make you pay the previous owner’s debt before you can begin a new service in that building.

As a restaurant owner, you’re going to be consuming a lot of electricity, water, heating, and even internet and cable. Clearly these are all dependent on the size and traffic of your restaurant, but don’t forget to factor in about $1000-$2500 for an average sized restaurant.

 

Paperwork & Licensing Costs

 

Here’s the fun part, licensing and permits! You’d be surprised how many different licenses are necessary to start a restaurant. We’ve compiled a list of the important paperwork you’ll need to consider.

    • Business License
    • Employer Identification Number (EIN)
    • Certificate of Occupancy
    • Food Service License
    • Food Handlers/Employee Health Permit
    • Liquor License*
    • Building Health Permit*
    • Sign Permit*
    • Resale Permit
    • Music License
    • Dumpster Permit*
    • Pool Table Permit*
    • Valet Parking Permit*

 

*optional/varies in requirement by state

Something to consider when opening your business is whether or not you decide to sell alcohol. If your restaurant is suited for it, alcohol is a product that sees high profit margins. Liquor license requirements vary from state to state, so check out your state’s requirements before you consider. Liquor license costs will also vary depending on where you live. They can be as cheap as $300, and as expensive as $10,000. Learn more about obtaining a liquor license in your state well in advance of your restaurant opening.

Additionally, many of these permits are necessary in some states, but not in others. Restaurant licensing can be a confusing process, which is why many restaurateurs work with attorneys to help them through the process. An attorney would be an added cost, but may be worthwhile to navigate all the paperwork. Most of these licenses also have fees that you’ll have to budget for.

 

Hidden Costs & Losses

 

In a perfect world, you’ll buy the exact amount of inventory you need every time, not any more or less. However, this is entirely impossible. There are a lot of hidden costs involved with owning a restaurant. Here are a few unexpected expenses that can be easy to forget about.

    • Spoiled Food
    • Running out of food
    • Repairs
    • Improvements
    • Signs
    • Security Deposit

 

Optimizing Your Budget

 

Now that you have some idea as to how you want to run your business and how much it will cost, it’s time to look at some ways you could save money. It can be easier than you think, but it’s important to cut budgets in the right places. Cutting costs by buying lower quality food is never the answer – customers will notice and it will only hurt your business in the long run. Optimize your budget through smart methods, like the following:

 

Table Turnover

 

Make sure that when your restaurant is busy, a steady flow of customers are being seated. The profit you make as a restaurant owner depends on how many guests you seat, so keeping things moving smoothly is a big part of the process.

When training your waiting staff, make sure they don’t let people linger at tables for too long. That being said, make sure that you give them enough time that they also feel welcome. Pressuring people or making them feel rushed takes away from their customer experience, which will hurt your reputation.

As mentioned previously, word-of-mouth is the best form of advertising you can get, as it’s free and highly effective. This is why it’s so important to take every means to satisfy the customer, within reason. Find a healthy middle ground for your staff to follow so that your customers are satisfied, but still flowing in and out of the establishment.

 

Market Position

 

When opening a restaurant, it’s important not to be stubborn about your vision. To most restaurant owners, their business is like a child they raised. However, it’s important to keep in mind that a great restaurant pleases the customer first, not the owner.

If your business model isn’t working after an extended period of time, it could be time to reinvent. Look at what your restaurant offers that others don’t. If your business clashes with another successful business in the area, look at how you can offer something that they don’t. This can mean anything from price point, to convenience, to health conscious options. Take your surrounding area into consideration.

This doesn’t mean you have to entirely ditch your restaurant’s identity. Switching up what you offer or offering new and better restaurant promotions can lead to a whole new world of opportunity.

 

Utilities

 

A lot of your money is going to end up covering gas, water, and electricity – there’s no getting past it. As a general rule of thumb, if your bills account for more than 5% of your operating costs, something needs to change. There are ways to cut back on these costs, which in the long term can save a lot of money on a monthly basis.

Outdated kitchen equipment can be a major cause of wasted utility bill money. If they’re being used past their breaking point, they can consume extra gas, electricity, or water just to function normally. Make sure all of your old rusty equipment is functioning efficiently, or toss it. Consider the price of new equipment, of course, but a better piece of machinery will be a good investment in the long run.

A huge factor when it comes to saving money on electricity is light management. If your restaurant has big windows, don’t waste money running all of your lights during peak daylight hours. You can get away with turning off some of your lights if it’s bright enough.

Additionally, it can help to invest in smart light bulbs that use less energy. This will consistently lower the cost of your electric bill.

Finally, the last tip in reference to lowering utility bills is to monitor your hot water usage. It can seem insignificant, but especially in the early stages wasting hot water regularly will hurt your budget.

There are plenty of ways to improve your restaurant’s profit margins if you’re creative.

 

How Much Do Restaurant Owners Make?

 

With all the costs discussed, how does one make a profit as a restaurant owner? As you enter the industry, you know that established restaurant owners make good money, but exactly how much can someone expect to make early on?

In the beginning years of a new restaurant, an owner is expected to make around $35,000 to $75,000 a year. That being said, high profit restaurant owners can very realistically make a $150,000 salary.

Many restaurant owners will take a pay cut in the early years of their business, and invest that money into improving their restaurant. Doing this poses a high-risk high-reward situation. It’s definitely a smart move to invest money into improving the business you want to make a living out of. However, if you’re particularly unsure about the success of your restaurant, it might make sense to pay yourself first.

 

Use careful planning when budgeting for your restaurant’s start up costs. Opening a new restaurant is always a costly operation, but with the right business plan and dedication to your business, you can own a thriving restaurant.

The post How Much Does It Cost To Open a Restaurant? 2020 Restaurant Startup Costs appeared first on Restaurant Clicks.

Restaurant Hashtags: How To Use Hashtags for Restaurants

Your restaurant should be present on social media. But, even if you have social profiles for your restaurant business, are you using them effectively? Restaurant hashtags and food hashtags can help you reach a larger audience online, bringing new customers to your social media pages, website, and hopefully, to your restaurant to buy a meal!

Hashtags are frequently misused on social media, so the key is using the right hashtags in the right way. Different restaurants, bars, and other food places can benefit from different hashtags and different strategies. Find the best restaurant hashtags for your business and learn how to properly use them. 

Best Hashtags for Restaurants 

Every restaurant is unique, so the best hashtags for one restaurant may not work for another. When choosing hashtags to use, consider your specific restaurant, offerings, and the content you’re attaching the hashtag to. 

Restaurant Hashtags

 

You can use basic hashtags like #restaurant, #bar, or #coffeeshop, but these may not add much appeal to your posts. Instead, think of what makes your restaurant unique and use those hashtags. 

If your restaurant is vegan, vegetarian, or provides options for other dietary restrictions, use hashtags like #VeganRestaurant, #VeganLifestyle, #Vegan, #PlantBased, #PlantLife, and so on. 

If your restaurant is an old-school Italian BYOB, use that information! Hashtags like #ItalianRestaurants have thousands of posts, which could lead to thousands of people seeing your content. 

You can also use offerings specific to your restaurant, or related to the content you’re posting. If you’re sharing a post about your happy hour special, #HappyHour is an obvious choice. You can use other promotional hashtags like #DrinkSpecial, #LateNightFood, #OpenBar, and so on. 

 

Food Hashtags

 

Use hashtags that are specific to the food you serve, or the food you’re posting about. You may be surprised to learn that popular food hashtags have huge audiences – for example, #Pizza has 44 million posts on Instagram, and #Sushi has 26.3 million. 

If you serve a signature food or a signature style of food, use those hashtags to find people interested in what you serve. Everyone loves a good food picture, so attaching the matching hashtag to a gooey slice of pizza is sure to get some attention.

Aside from food specific hashtags, there are plenty of foodie hashtags that food fanatics follow religiously. Try some of the following popular food hashtags: 

  • #Foodie
  • #Food
  • #FoodPorn
  • #Foodgasm
  • #NomNom
  • #FoodPhotography
  • #Foodstagram
  • #Tasty
  • #EatingForTheInsta
  • #Eats
  • #ForkYeah
  • #FoodFeed
  • #DailyFoodFeed
  • #InstaEats
  • #GoodEats
  • #FeedFeed
  • #FoodIsLife 

 

Location Hashtags 

 

The point of using hashtags, and social media in general, is to improve visibility to bring more customers to your restaurant. What better customers to target than the ones in your immediate area? 

Using location-based hashtags can bring the right audience to your social media. While someone halfway across the world may like your food photos, they aren’t likely to become paying customers. Use hashtags to put your restaurant in front of people in your local area who can actually visit your restaurant. 

When choosing location hashtags, you can use the location itself like #Philadelphia, as well as location + food hashtags. Examples include #PhiladelphiaRestaurants, #PhillyEats, #PhillyFoods, and so on. Simply insert your location. 

Some hashtags will be more popular than others, so search for hashtags that include your location to find the best ones. The more posts, the more people are likely to follow and see the hashtag that you use. 

 

Branded Hashtags 

 

Popular hashtags can get more eyes on your posts and hopefully improve visibility for your restaurant. Branded hashtags can also be useful though.

Branded hashtags are hashtags created by your restaurant for some specific purpose. For example, you could create a hashtag of your restaurant name and encourage customers to tag it in photos from their visit. This can help spread the word about your restaurant, as their followers may be interested in the food or other pictures they share and look into your restaurant. This also helps to collect user-generated content – if a customer takes a great food photo, you could ask to re-post it on your account. 

Many brands also use hashtags to hold contests. For example, you could encourage customers to tag your hashtag in a post from your restaurant to be entered to win a free meal, a discount, or some other perk. 

 

How Can Restaurants Benefit from Hashtags on Social Media? 

 

Restaurants are typically on social media for a few reasons: first, most businesses are, so it’s a form of social proof that your restaurant is real. Second, it allows you to share more information and images from your brand, locking in your brand aesthetic so that customers know what you’re all about. And third, it is another marketing tool to help customers find your restaurant and learn more. 

Hashtags are useful because they help your social media content get seen by a larger audience. When you post on social media sites like Instagram, only your followers will see it on its own. If you add a hashtag, however, anyone who follows that hashtag, likes similar content, or searches for the hashtag can see your post and engage with it.

Using hashtags can not only step up your social media game, but help improve brand visibility and bring new customers in your door. The key is using the right hashtags that match your restaurant. There are also certain best practices for hashtag use on social media. 

 

Hashtag Best Practices 

 

Hashtags can be used on all social platforms these days – Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, and even LinkedIn. For restaurants, we find that Instagram hashtags are the most effective.

On Instagram, you can use several hashtags to help your posts get seen. Using hashtags can put your content on the Instagram explore page, which can help thousands of more users find and learn about your establishment. 

Instagram allows up to 30 hashtags per post, but some experts state that 11 is the best number. You can comment the hashtags on your own post, or hide them by spacing out your caption so that it looks less cluttered.

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Twitter is where the hashtag originated, but they are much less common on the platform now. If your restaurant has a Twitter presence, you can still use hashtags – just stick to one or two at once. You can also leverage trending hashtags to join a popular conversation and get your name out there. For example, see how Wendy’s (a restaurant with a famously popular Twitter presence) uses the #Oscars hashtag to join the conversation: 

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Facebook also allows hashtags, but again we’d recommend using only one or two relevant tags to get more eyes on your post. 

Final Thoughts

 

Social media is a great, free marketing tool for your restaurant. Make the most of your social media efforts by using the best hashtags for restaurants. For more marketing help, contact Restaurant Clicks or download our free restaurant marketing plan!

The post Restaurant Hashtags: How To Use Hashtags for Restaurants appeared first on Restaurant Clicks.

Best Restaurant POS Systems for 2020

A good point of sale system can help streamline your restaurant’s processes, from payments to inventory and much more. Today, some of the best POS systems for restaurants incorporate a host of useful tools that can efficiently integrate various processes all on one platform.

If you’re a restaurant owner, it can be difficult to figure out which POS system is best for your unique business. While there are many that offer great features, some are better equipped for different service styles, restaurant sizes, budgets, and so on. 

We’ve reviewed the top 9 restaurant point of sale systems so that you can find the best one for your restaurant business! Whether you’re just opening a restaurant or you’re looking to update your technology, there is sure to be a POS system for your needs. 

What is a POS System?

 

A point of sale (POS) system allows businesses to process transactions, track sales, and more. POS systems essentially function as cash registers, but with better technology and tracking. Modern point of sale systems have an even broader range of capabilities, from inventory tracking to sales reports and much more. 

Restaurant point of sale software can often handle bookings, arrange seating, collect and track customer information, and more. There are plenty of point of sale options for restaurants, so be sure to research the best one for your restaurant’s needs before committing to a specific system. 

 

Best POS Systems for Restaurants 

 

      1. Upserve
      2. TouchBistro
      3. Lightspeed
      4. Square
      5. Toast
      6. ShopKeep
      7. Cake
      8. Revel Systems
      9. Lavu

 

Upserve

 

Upserve is a high-end restaurant POS system with a huge number of useful features. This point of sale system has all the features your restaurant may need, as well as great reporting dashboards to track business metrics. Their reporting tools make it easy to identify popular dishes, check on staff performance, and learn more about how your restaurant runs. 

Upserve is flexible and scalable, so it can fit any size or style restaurant business. The Upserve POS terminal is required to get started, but it’s easy to use. They offer 24/7 support, so there’s always a team behind you. 

Upserve Features:

      • Personalized training and onboarding
      • Tableside ordering
      • Online ordering
      • Inventory management
      • Advanced reporting
      • Staff scheduling
      • Menu management
      • Reputation management
      • Marketing & CRM
      • Offline mode
      • Table management
      • Loyalty programs
      • Bill splitting
      • Scalable
      • 24/7 support

Pros: 

      • Huge number of features
      • Easy to use plus training
      • Reporting tools to improve processes
      • 24/7 support

Cons: 

      • Expensive
      • Must use their hardware
      • No free trial

Verdict

Upserve has great features, but it’s definitely on the expensive end. The most basic plan starts at roughly $119 per month, and extra terminals add onto the price. On top of that, some features are not included with the basic plan, so if you want tools like inventory tracking, you’ll have to pay extra. If your restaurant has the money and wants one of the best and most comprehensive POS systems, however, Upserve is a worthy investment. 

 

TouchBistro

 

TouchBistro is by far the best iPad POS system for restaurants. Made specifically for restaurants, TouchBistro offers lots of great restaurant-specific features. It is scalable, so it can fit restaurants of varying sizes and service styles. The manufacturers claim that it has over 200 features, so it is sure to meet any and all of your restaurant’s needs. 

TouchBistro has an easy-to-use, intuitive interface, but it also comes with 24/7 support and training so that employees can easily manage it. It’s flexible too – small quick-serve cafes can use a single iPad, or you can connect several for a larger operation as long as you have a wireless connection. 

TouchBistro Features: 

      • Tableside ordering
      • Restaurant inventory management 
      • Payment processing options
      • Floor plan & table management
      • Staff management and scheduling
      • Menu management
      • Customer relation management (CRM)
      • Bill splitting
      • Loyalty programs
      • 24/7 support
      • Free trial 

Pros:

      • Made for restaurants
      • Plenty of great features
      • Intuitive design
      • 24/7 support

Cons:

      • Only works with Apple iPads and computers

Verdict

TouchBistro is perfect for any small to mid-sized restaurant that wants an iPad POS system. Even if your servers won’t use the iPads tableside, this restaurant point of sale system is a great option to streamline processes. 

 

Lightspeed 

 

Lightspeed is another great option that makes it easy to streamline the processes of your restaurant. It has the most third-party integrations available, with 60 integrated partners listed on their website. This means that if you have another software that you love, like scheduling software, you can easily integrate it with your Lightspeed POS system to keep everything in one place.

Because of all the possible integrations, Lightspeed has plenty of possible tools and features, so if one that’s important to your business isn’t included, you can add it in. That being said, there is a good range of useful tools already included. 

Lightspeed Features:

      • POS software and hardware
      • Integration library
      • Custom floor plans
      • Customizable menus
      • Staff management
      • Offline mode
      • Tableside ordering
      • Loyalty programs
      • Easy bill splitting
      • Reporting and analytics
      • Scalable
      • 24/7 support
      • Free trial 

Pros: 

      • Best for integrations
      • Plenty of tools and add on possibilities
      • Offline mode

Cons: 

      • Slightly expensive

Verdict

Lightspeed is one of the best restaurant POS systems available, with plenty of features and even more third-party integrations to be added on. With all the available integrations, Lightspeed can do almost anything your restaurant may need. The only concern is the added cost of those integrations, so things may get pricey. 

 

Square 

 

Square is one of the most popular restaurant POS systems, and it’s frequently used in coffee shops and other counter service restaurants. It has plenty of features and a simple, intuitive design that is easy to use. Square is on the more affordable end of the best restaurant POS systems, although their system does charge 2.6% for every transaction. 

Square works in a variety of industries, but they also have a specific restaurant POS system that is scalable for quick-serve restaurants through to full-scale operations. It has a wide range of general and restaurant-specific features that can streamline processes at your restaurant business. 

Square Features: 

      • POS software and hardware
      • Menu customization
      • Floor plans
      • Sales & shift reports
      • Online order integration
      • Plenty of third party integrations
      • Reporting and analytics
      • Payroll and employee management
      • Loyalty programs
      • Customer feedback
      • Gift cards
      • Free trial
      • 24/7 support

Pros: 

      • Scalable
      • Great analytics
      • Plenty of features and other possible integrations

Cons: 

      • Takes percentage of all sales
      • Some features are not included and must be purchased to add on

Verdict

Square POS is one of the most popular point of sale systems for restaurants and other businesses, and for good reason. It is easy to use, on the more affordable end, and has tons of great tools. Square is most popular among quick-serve restaurants, but it is scalable to fit larger operations as well. 

 

Toast

 

Toast is a popular and efficient restaurant POS system with various other features as well. Unlike TouchBistro, Toast operates on Android technology and is not compatible with iOS. Toast fits a wide range of venues, from coffee shops to upscale restaurants to online orders, so it’s great for businesses with various service offerings or those looking to expand. 

Toast’s interface is easy-to-use and offers the option to combine POS, reporting and analytics, payroll and team management, online ordering and delivery, and loyalty programs. They also sell POS hardware like handhelds, kiosks, and kitchen display systems. 

Toast Features: 

      • POS software and hardware
      • Inventory management
      • Online ordering
      • Delivery service options
      • Payroll management
      • Staff scheduling 
      • Reporting and analytics
      • Menu customization
      • Offline mode
      • Loyalty programs
      • Scalable
      • 24/7 support
      • Free trial

Pros: 

      • Offline mode works in case of power outage or loss of connection
      • Plenty of great features for restaurants 
      • Compatible with Android devices 
      • 24/7 support

Cons: 

      • Not compatible with Apple or iOS devices
      • Requires specific hardware 

Verdict

Toast is a great POS system that is flexible for all sorts of restaurants, from casual to fine dining and coffee shops to nightclubs. Its offline mode is a great feature in case of power or WiFi issues – the only big drawback is that you’ll have to purchase their POS hardware. If you’re already on the market for those tools, however, Toast is a good choice. 

 

ShopKeep

 

ShopKeep is another great option for restaurants in need of a point of sale system. This restaurant POS software is available as a single iPad POS system or as a full restaurant system. ShopKeep has plenty of great features, albeit not as many as some of the other systems on this list.

One of the best things about ShopKeep is that it’s incredibly mobile-friendly, working with Apple iPads and Android tablets, as well as mobile phones or ShopKeep’s own register hardware. This restaurant POS makes it easy to build email marketing lists by collecting emails at checkout, and it integrates with MailChimp to add to your email list. 

ShopKeep Features: 

      • Easy to use POS software
      • Inventory tracking
      • Reporting and analytics
      • Staff scheduling and clock 
      • Loyalty program
      • Email marketing integration
      • Business listing management
      • Syncs with eCommerce
      • Syncs with QuickBooks
      • Mobile friendly
      • Optional restaurant kit hardware
      • 24/7 support

Pros:

      • Very mobile-friendly – works with most smart devices
      • Plenty of useful features
      • Affordable compared to others
      • Flexible

Cons:

      • Doesn’t have quite as many features as other options

Verdict

ShopKeep is a great option, especially for those on a budget – the pricing isn’t publicly listed, but former prices were lower than competing POS systems. It has an assortment of useful features, and it works well with Apple, Android, or their own hardware. ShopKeep is also scalable, so it’s great for quick serve counters or full restaurants. 

 

Cake

 

Cake offers custom solutions, so it can be scaled to fit any restaurant size or style. This POS system has a lot to offer, so while it’s more expensive than some others, it can integrate a wider range of processes for your restaurant. For instance, it can double as your reservation system as well, cutting out the cost of another software or service. 

Cake is easy to learn to use, especially with training for owners and employees and 24/7 customer support. They have specific package options for quick serve, full service restaurants, and bars and pubs. Everything is still customizable however, so you can scale their offerings to fit your business. 

Cake Features:

      • POS software and hardware
      • Inventory management
      • Waitlist management
      • Reporting and analytics
      • Gift cards
      • Text alerts
      • Online ordering
      • Reservation booking
      • Table management 
      • Integrations 
      • 24/7 support
      • Free trial

Pros: 

      • Full service POS
      • Rented hardware cuts down on upfront costs
      • Offline mode

Cons:

      • Expensive 

Verdict

Cake is a good option for those looking for lots of features all in one software. This restaurant POS system is intuitively designed with lots of easy to use tools that can help streamline your business. You’ll need Cake hardware, but the company allows you to lease it rather than buy a large amount of equipment up front. If you have the money and the need for many tools, Cake is a great POS for restaurants.

 

Revel Systems 

 

Revel Systems is a full service restaurant POS system with lots of great tools. It manages more than just point of sale transactions, and can handle various aspects of your restaurant business all on one platform. This cloud-based iPad POS software is made for restaurants, and has specific packages and plans for bars, breweries, wineries, nightclubs, and even pizza shops. 

Revel Systems POS has customer experience tools, financial tools, management solutions, and plenty of point of sale options. This POS has lots of great features, and while set up can be difficult, it is easy to use once you’ve been trained. 

Revel Systems Features: 

      • POS software and hardware
      • Inventory management
      • Online ordering
      • CRM
      • Loyalty programs
      • QuickBooks Integration
      • Bill splitting
      • Customizable menus
      • Staff scheduling and management
      • Reporting and analytics
      • Enterprise management
      • Table management
      • Delivery tracking
      • 24/7 support
      • Free trial

Pros:

      • Lots of great features
      • Enterprise management is great for chains
      • Online orders and delivery features surpass others

Cons: 

      • Expensive
      • Difficult set up 

Verdict

Revel Systems is a great option with a lot of features for any restaurant looking for a point of sale software that can integrate various other tools and processes. Their enterprise management feature is great for chains or multi-location restaurants, because you can track both separately and together. The only big drawback is the price, which is on the expensive end of our list. Set up can also be difficult, but with dedicated customer service on your side it won’t be too hard to figure out.

 

Lavu

 

Lavu is another good iPad POS system for restaurants. It can manage a host of tools aside from just point of sale software, including a great employee onboarding and training feature that many competitors lack. With Lavu, you can streamline the process of training new hires and take on many other tasks on one system. 

Lavu can handle processes relating to POS, labor, menus, inventory, and more. Their corresponding app makes it easy to check reports while you’re on the go, and it can be accessed from your smartphone. The reports and analytics are customizable to show what matters most to your business. Lavu can be scaled to fit any restaurant business.

Lavu Features:

      • Scalable POS
      • Training and onboarding
      • Inventory management
      • Staff scheduling
      • Bill splitting
      • Pre-ordering
      • Reporting and analytics
      • Customer database
      • Integration with quickbooks
      • Loyalty programs
      • 24/7 support
      • Free trial

Pros: 

      • Makes onboarding staff easier
      • Easy to use
      • Plenty of features available

Cons:

      • Expensive hardware
      • Reports of software bugs

Verdict

Lavu is a good comprehensive restaurant POS software. It’s not the top choice, but it has plenty of great features available and it works well. The biggest drawback is that you have to purchase their hardware, which can get pricey. It does have a great employee onboarding feature, however, which can ease a difficult but necessary task for managers. 

 

How To Choose a Restaurant POS System

 

There are seemingly endless point of sale systems out there today, and many claim to offer the same features and quality of services. It’s hard to weed out the best restaurant POS systems from others that will only make running your business more difficult. 

Each of the options on our list are top-rated and loved by restaurants around the world, but choosing between them presents an issue too. Consider the following when choosing a restaurant POS system. 

 

Features Offered

 

The features offered by each restaurant POS system should be your first consideration. After all, you’re buying a point of sale software for the tools it provides.

Today, the best POS systems don’t just handle transactions, but also offer a host of other features. Some common tools include the following: 

      • Inventory management: Track orders and ingredients so that buying is simplified
      • Table management: Map out seating arrangements and create waitlists
      • Staff management: Can include scheduling, a time clock to punch, or employee performance
      • Menu management: Change menu items easily
      • Billing: Most offer various payment methods
      • CRM: Collects customer information to add to email lists, track customer purchases and engagment
      • Loyalty programs: Track loyal customers and offer incentives
      • Payroll management: Track and implement payroll
      • Reporting and analytics: Collect data and offer insights on business practices and where to improve
      • Online ordering and delivery: Track and manage online orders
      • Integrations: Integrate with other software to streamline restaurant processes

 

Some restaurant POS systems may offer some, a few, all, or even more than just these features – these are just some common ones we’ve seen. 

When choosing a POS system for your restaurant, consider what tools you actually need and will use. There’s no use paying extra for staff management if you’re going to continue to use your old system. Think about what your restaurant business really needs and what would best streamline your processes.

 

Service Style

 

What style of service does your restaurant provide? Most of the best POS systems are flexible and scalable to fit any size and style of restaurant, but look for one that best matches your style.

Service styles include quick serve, counter service, full service, and so on. A coffee shop with one register can benefit from a different POS system than a full service seated restaurant. Smaller restaurants may not need the same tools as larger ones, or it may not be worth the added cost to pay for extra features. 

Some POS systems are better fits for quick serve businesses, like the iPad POS systems. Others may be better for full service restaurants, bars, and so on. Some of the best options on our list offer packages for specific types of restaurants to fit their exact service offerings and needs. Keep your style of service in mind when purchasing a POS system for your restaurant. 

 

Your Customers

 

Who are your customers? What will make patronizing your restaurant easier and more enjoyable for them? The customer always comes first, so consider the customer experience when choosing a restaurant point of sale system. 

Older customers may not be as comfortable signing or tipping on an iPad based POS system. Younger customers will likely be more in tune with technology based options. Some people may have more or less trouble with contactless payment, tablets, and so on. Customers with disabilities may also face difficulties with some systems. 

On the other hand, if you run an upscale restaurant, your guests may not enjoy the look of tableside ordering with an iPad. Consider your target demographic and what they’d like to see in your restaurant. If everything is kept on the back end, it doesn’t matter much, but if they have to interact with your system then you should consider how they’d prefer to go through ordering and payment processes. 

 

Restaurant Size and Growth Opportunities

 

Consider the size of your restaurant and how it may grow over time with your POS system. A larger restaurant will require more technology and likely more hardware than a smaller one. Size may also factor into the features that are most useful and important to you. 

All of the POS systems on our list are scalable, so it is possible that they can grow with your restaurant. Some are better equipped for growth than others, however, and if opening a second location is a possibility then you definitely need to consider growth options. 

 

Budget

 

As always, budget is an important factor. Some systems may have low starting costs, but if the features you want cost extra then it may add up quickly. Be sure to research pricing for any POS system before making a commitment.

 

Restaurant Point of Sale FAQ

 

Your restaurant’s point of sale software is an important purchase for your business. Not only is it an investment, but it also will affect how your staff and customers interact with your restaurant. Many restaurant POS systems come with tools that can help to streamline various processes, so finding the right one is vital. Find all the answers you need here on Restaurant Clicks. 

 

Does my restaurant need a point of sale system?

 

All restaurants need some way of completing customer transactions. Some old school restaurants still use cash only registers, but most have upgraded to a POS system or register system that takes credit cards and other payment options. 

There are options other than a full service, online POS system, but most modern restaurants use some kind of POS software. Today, the best restaurant POS systems work incredibly well and can seamlessly take care of transactions, track sales, and track other things like inventory through each purchase. 

While there are other options, we would say that yes: your restaurant needs a point of sale system. The ones on this list are your best options based on performance and the many integrated tools. 

 

What are the best POS features?

 

At the end of the day, the best point of sale features are the ones that best fit your restaurant’s needs. Every restaurant is different, so one POS system may be the best option for one restaurant but not another. 

The most important feature that all restaurants will probably need is an easy to use POS software that makes it easy to cash out customer transactions. Most point of sale systems come with their own hardware like card readers, tablets, and cash drawers. Make sure your POS system of choice fits your restaurants needs in terms of customer transactions, since that is its primary use.

Some of the most common and useful features for POS systems also include things like inventory tracking and reports and analytics. Since inventory is directly affected by sales, it makes sense that a restaurant POS system could track both at once. Reports and analytics will help you see what’s selling, what isn’t, and other useful information to improve the profitability of your restaurant

Otherwise, look for features that matter to your restaurant. A full service restaurant will benefit from table management, while a quick serve or counter service restaurant may not need that tool. If accounting isn’t your strong suit, look for a restaurant POS that can track sales and integrate with an accounting software like QuickBooks. 

Another great tool to look for, from a marketing perspective, is CRM or other features that can help to track customer information like names, email addresses, and phone numbers. Many restaurant POS systems offer paperless receipts via text or email and collect customer information this way. Collecting this information makes it easy to follow up with customers to ask for reviews, offer promotions, and more. 

 

What are the different types of POS systems for restaurants? 

 

There are various types of POS systems for restaurants as well as different hardware and different features. 

On-site POS systems are older models that typically run on a server based in your restaurant. These are bulkier than those on our list and generally don’t come with continuing customer support from the manufacturer. 

Cloud-based POS systems are the preferred, more modern option with better technology. They allow you to access data about your restaurant remotely, and the info is stored on a server owned by the company you choose to buy POS software from. This allows for more regular updates to the technology and support from the POS company. 

Many cloud-based POS systems offer mobile point of sale technology as well, like the various iPad point of sale systems on our list. These have the same benefits of other cloud-based POS software, but allow for better mobility, as you can use a mobile tablet like an iPad or a smartphone. Often, these have the added benefit of tableside ordering where the server can enter the order directly on the mobile device while customers order. Mobile POS systems are great for many businesses, but aren’t necessarily the right fit for all restaurants. 

Another option is a self-service POS system, with customer kiosks. These are popular among quick service restaurants that allow customers to customize their orders, like build-your-own salad bars. Self-service is not the best option for all restaurants, but it is a great choice for certain businesses.

 

Do I need to buy POS hardware as well? 

 

Yes, you’ll need to buy some point of sale hardware along with a POS system software. Some POS systems require that you buy their specific hardware to use their services. Others may allow you to use devices like iPads or smartphones. 

Even if you don’t have to buy the complete set of POS hardware from a specific POS system, you’ll probably have to buy some. You’ll need items like card readers, scanners, or cash drawers no matter what POS software you choose. 

Be sure to read the details about your restaurant POS system of choice to figure out how the hardware side works and what you’ll need to purchase to get started. Most have dedicated customer service lines that can help you navigate the start up process with their specific system.

 

Final Thoughts

Every restaurant needs some kind of cash register, but most modern businesses use POS systems nowadays. Choose from the best restaurant POS systems to streamline your restaurant’s sales as well as other processes!re

The post Best Restaurant POS Systems for 2020 appeared first on Restaurant Clicks.

Restaurant Licensing: Licenses and Permits Needed To Open a Restaurant 

Opening a restaurant isn’t just about creating menus and investing capital. There are various licenses and permits needed to open a new restaurant legally. Before you can open a new restaurant, you’ll need to apply for and receive an assortment of state licenses and local permits. 

Restaurant licensing differs state by state, so the process for getting restaurant licenses isn’t always the same. Depending on your location, the type of restaurant business you’re opening, and other factors, some restaurants need different permits than others. Many new restaurateurs work with experienced lawyers to help navigate licensing and the paperwork associated with it. 

There are various licenses and permits you may need to open a restaurant, and some are the standard requirement in all 50 states. We’ll start by going over the most common and necessary licenses, and then cover some that may or may not apply based on your specific restaurant and location. 

What Licenses Are Needed to Open a Restaurant? 

 

      1. Business License
      2. Employer Identification Number (EIN)
      3. Certificate of Occupancy
      4. Food Service License
      5. Food Handlers Permit or Employee Health Permit
      6. Building Health Permit
      7. Sign Permit
      8. Seller’s Permit
      9. Resale Permit
      10. Liquor License
      11. Music License or Live Music License
      12. Other Permits to Consider

 

Business License

What is a Business License? 

A business license is a requirement for any new business venture, not just restaurants. Business licenses make it legal to operate a business in your given area. This is a government-issued license that is based on the location and address of your restaurant, making it legal to conduct business in that area. 

How To Get a Business License

The process of obtaining a business license depends entirely on your location. In some cases, you may need to get a license from the state, while in others you’ll need a local business license. If your restaurant serves alcohol, you’ll need a federal business license as well. 

The US Small Business Administration has state by state information on obtaining a business license, so it’s a great resource to learn how to get a business license in your location. 

How Much Does a Business License Cost? 

There is typically a registration fee of around $50 for a new business license, as well as filing fees that can range as high as $500. Costs vary by location. There may also be future costs for renewing the license. 

 

Employer Identification Number (EIN)

What is an Employer Identification Number?

An EIN is your business’ tax ID. This tells the federal government that you own a business that pays employees, and makes it possible to legally hire your employees. Employer Identification Numbers are assigned by the IRS.

How To Get an Employer Identification Number

Getting an EIN is easy – just visit the IRS website and follow the procedures for applications. You can also apply via phone, fax, or mail. We recommend applying for this early, as the IRS only issues limited numbers per day. 

How Much Does an Employer Identification Number Cost?

It is free to obtain an EIN for your business. 

 

Certificate of Occupancy

What is a Certificate of Occupancy? 

A Certificate of Occupancy confirms that the building your restaurant will operate in is properly constructed and maintained. You can acquire a Certificate of Occupancy after your commercial space has passed its final inspection. 

How To Get a Certificate of Occupancy 

These certificates vary by location, so we recommend searching for how to get one in your specific area. A government inspector from your local building or zoning department will have to come out and perform the inspection before you can receive your certificate. 

How Much Does a Certificate of Occupancy Cost?

Costs range by location, but a Certificate of Occupancy typically costs around $100. 

 

Food Service License

What is a Food Service License?

A food service license makes it legal for your restaurant to sell food. Your restaurant must meet all food prep, storage, and and food safety laws to receive this license. Depending on your type of restaurant, you may need a food handlers permit or a food vendors license as well. 

How To Get a Food Service License

To get a food service license, apply through your local city or county health department, either online or in person. They will send someone to inspect your restaurant, and in some areas you may have to complete food safety training as well. Make sure your restaurant is up to code in terms of food safety before applying. 

Once you obtain your food service license, your restaurant will be subject to visits from a health inspector to ensure that you’re maintaining food safety protocols. 

How Much Does a Food Service License Cost?

As always, the cost of this license varies by state and locality. Prices typically range from $100 to $1000. 

 

Food Handlers Permit or Employee Health Permit

What is a Food Handlers Permit?

A food handlers permit, also called an employee health permit, ensures that all staff has undergone food safety training. This permit shows that the restaurant staff adheres to proper food handling, food storage, and food sanitation regulations. 

How To Get a Food Handlers Permit

To get a food handlers permit or employee health permit, the employee has to complete a state food handlers course. Search your state’s website to learn more about obtaining a permit in your area. 

How Much Does an Employee Health Permit Cost? 

Costs vary state by state, but this permit typically costs between $100 and $500. 

 

Building Health Permit

What is a Building Health Permit? 

A building health permit deals with the cleanliness and sanitation of the building where you plan to open a restaurant. This is typically covered by a health inspector when issuing a food service permit, but a building health permit is still required in certain states or sometimes when a restaurant is planned in a newly constructed building. 

How To Get a Building Health Permit

First, do some research on your state’s licensing laws to see if you even need a building health permit. If you do need this permit, apply on your local or state government’s website. They will likely send an inspector, and your building will be subject to future routine inspections.

How Much Does a Building Health Permit Cost? 

With all state or local permits, it depends on your location. Check to make sure you even need this permit before paying for anything. Costs can range from $50 to $1000. 

 

Sign Permit

What is a Sign Permit? 

In many areas, you need a permit to hang a sign on your building – even the main name of your restaurant sign. Different locations may have restrictions on the size, location, and brightness of your sign. Obtaining a sign permit ensures that your signage is legal and within regulations. 

How To Get a Sign Permit

Sign permits are usually given by local government, not at the state level. Check out your local laws on your local government’s site to learn the process of receiving this permit. You may have to go through the zoning department. To get your permit, you’ll have to submit plans for your sign, including size, design, placement, and circuitry if it has lights in it. 

How Much Does a Sign Permit Cost?

Again, it depends on your location and the size and complexity of your sign. It could be as cheap as $20. 

 

Seller’s Permit

What is a Seller’s Permit? 

A seller’s permit is also called a sales tax permit. This tells your state government that your business charges tax during customer transactions. Depending on your state, you may need a seller’s permit for tax reasons. 

How To Get a Seller’s Permit

First check to see if you need a seller’s permit based on your location, type of restaurant sales, and tax identification. If you do need a sales tax permit, apply on your state or local government’s website.

How Much Does a Seller’s Permit Cost? 

There is usually no cost for a seller’s permit, but you may have to put down a security deposit in case your restaurant closes and you have unpaid taxes leftover.  

 

Resale Permit

What is a Resale Permit? 

A resale permit is needed to prevent double taxation on products that you are collecting tax on. This allows your restaurant to make non-taxable purchases on items that will be resold with tax. For example, a resale permit could allow you to purchase food inventory without tax since it will be resold as meals with tax.  

How To Get a Resale Permit

To get a resale permit, search for information on your location. Your local governments website should have an application.

How Much Does a Resale Permit Cost?

In some areas, a resale permit may be free. In others, it may cost a small fee of around $50. 

 

Liquor License

What is a Liquor License?

A liquor license allows your restaurant to sell alcoholic beverages. For bars or restaurants serving alcohol, this license is a necessity. If you don’t plan on serving alcohol, you won’t need a liquor license.

How To Get a Liquor License

The process for getting a liquor license varies by state, and depending on your state it can be relatively easy or seriously difficult. Learn how to get a liquor license in your state to begin the process early. 

How Much Does a Liquor License Cost?

Liquor licenses are often very expensive. Look into your state’s liquor laws to learn more about getting a license. 

 

Music License or Live Music License

What is a Music License?

Restaurants cannot simply turn on a playlist and play background music – you need a permit to play any music to avoid copyright infringement. A music license makes it legal to play certain music included with the license. 

If you want live music at your restaurant, you’ll also need a live entertainment license. This may require additional safety and zoning permits, and you’ll have to adhere to noise restrictions. 

How To Get a Music License

To get a license to play background music, you can go through organizations like ASCAP or BMI. For live entertainment licenses, research information on your state or local government website.

How Much Does a Music Permit Cost?

A standard music permit usually costs between $250 and $500. While this may seem steep, it’s worth paying up front. Fines for playing copyrighted music without a license can range from $750 to $30,000. 

 

Other Restaurant Permits to Consider 

 

There are other, less essential permits that you may need for your restaurant as well. These can include a dumpster permit, allowing you to place a dumpster on your property, or even a pool table permit allowing pool to be played in your restaurant. If you offer valet parking, you may need a permit for that as well. 

Any extra features of your restaurant such as these may need a permit, which is why it’s important to do thorough research of state and local laws or to work with a lawyer who can guide you through licensing. 

 

Restaurant Licensing FAQ

 

Can I make food from home and sell it? 

 

There are businesses that sell food made from home. You will still need proper licenses and inspections, however. Some home businesses may operate illegally, but it is not advisable as it can lead to serious fines. 

 

Can you serve food without a permit?

 

No, in most states you cannot legally sell and serve food without a permit. If you fail to receive a food service permit and other necessary permits, you cannot legally serve food. 

 

How much is a fine for serving food without a permit? 

 

The fine depends on your state and local laws, but fines can range from $25 to thousands of dollars. In some states, selling food without a permit is a misdemeanor and can even result in jail time. No matter the cost, it is not worth losing your business – simply follow the laws and keep up with licenses as needed. 

 

How much do restaurant licenses cost? 

 

Restaurant licensing is different in each state and even in certain localities within state lines. If you add up all of the costs for each license and permit on our list, the cost can range from about $1000 to $5000, not including a liquor license. Not all restaurants need every license listed, however, so it depends largely on your location. 

 

What training must food handlers have by law? 

 

Generally speaking, food handlers should have a good understanding of food safety regulations and practices. Depending on your location, food handlers may all need individual food handler permits, or they may just need training from the owner. It is the responsibility of the restaurant owners to ensure that employees who handle food are properly trained. 

 

What licenses are needed to start a food truck?

 

Food trucks operate under different laws and licensing, so most states have a separate food truck license that must meet certain health code standards. Food truck owners will need their specific food truck license as well as other required licenses like a business license, food service license, EIN, and so on. 

 

Research Your Local Restaurant Licensing Laws

 

Be sure to research the specific laws and regulations for proper licensing in your area. Check at both the state and local level to make sure nothing is missed, or work with a lawyer to help guide you through licensing requirements. 

Restaurants require thorough licensing – and for good reason. It’s the government’s job to ensure that restaurants operate with proper food safety, so licenses are in place to make sure that the public is safe to eat at your restaurant. While applying for multiple licenses can be a hassle, it’s a necessary step to ensure that your restaurant is legally operating.

The post Restaurant Licensing: Licenses and Permits Needed To Open a Restaurant  appeared first on Restaurant Clicks.

How To Improve Restaurant Ratings

Your restaurant’s online ratings and reviews are important to monitor. Most consumers check reviews and ratings before visiting a business, so your online presence can seriously affect whether or not a customer converts. 

But what do you do if you have poor ratings online or bad reviews bringing down your restaurant’s reputation? There are a few tactics you can take to improve your restaurant’s reputation online

Do Restaurant Ratings Matter? 

 

In a word, yes, restaurants’ online ratings do matter. Many statistics show that almost all consumers do online research before patronizing businesses, like one from Podium that says that 93% of consumers say online reviews have an effect on their purchasing choices. Another from ReviewTrackers says that 94% have avoided a business based on negative reviews

A different ReviewTrackers survey also found that 1 in 3 diners will not eat at a restaurant with a rating of three stars or less out of five. 

Most people searching for restaurants or other businesses online will likely visit a business in the next 24 hours. If potential customers find that you have bad ratings, it could hurt your business and deter new customers. That’s why it’s important to monitor your restaurant’s online presence and improve it wherever possible. 

 

How To Boost Restaurant Ratings

 

Now that you recognize the importance of online ratings and reviews for your website, how do you improve them? Consider these strategies when you find low ratings or bad reviews. 

 

Take Customer Comments Seriously

 

The best way to improve online ratings is to improve your restaurant. Sometimes, you may get poor reviews from bitter, disgruntled customers. It’s not useful to write off all bad reviews as a fluke, however. Very often, low ratings and reviews may speak to an issue at your restaurant.

Take bad reviews and low ratings seriously. If there’s a common theme in the complaints, it may be something that you didn’t realize that your restaurant needs to improve upon. If one person complains that their service was too slow, it could have just been a mistake or a bad day. If several are complaining of slow service, however, you may need to look into speeding up your processes. 

Use low ratings to learn more about how your restaurant works for customers. While no one wants bad reviews, the present a great learning opportunity and suggestions for improvement. Don’t dismiss poor reviews as silly complaints, and you may be able to significantly improve customer satisfaction at your restaurant.  

 

Monitor Review Sites and Mentions

 

Regularly check in on your restaurant’s online presence. Some restaurant review sites allow you to claim your business and can send alerts about reviews, but others you’ll have to remember to check manually. 

You can also set up a Google alert for mentions of your restaurant, or search on social media channels for mentions. This way, you don’t miss anything.

Keeping an eye on your restaurant’s online reputation can help you weed out poor reviews faster, so you can make sure that your ratings don’t drop too low. It also allows you to respond faster, whether it’s online or by fixing an issue at your restaurant so that it doesn’t happen again. 

 

Respond to Reviews Online

 

One of the best ways to keep customers happy is to respond to reviews online. This shows that you are engaged and interested in their feedback, which can build customer loyalty. Customers who post reviews online want to feel heard, so responding can ensure that they feel appreciated by your restaurant. This will increase the chance that they return! 

You should respond to both positive and negative reviews online. Responding to positive reviews shows that you appreciate their business and their nice comments, and engages with happy customers. 

Responding to negative reviews shows that you do care about the customer’s experience. Apologizing or offering a solution or a perk like a discount off their next meal can turn a bad review into a good one. At the very least, it proves that you care enough to reach out to customers. 

 

Ask Customers for Reviews

 

To counteract bad ratings, you’ll need more positive ones. Start asking customers to leave positive reviews if they had a good experience! Servers can ask their tables to leave reviews, or even leave small cards that encourage comments. If you collect information like email addresses or phone numbers, it’s even easier to contact customers after their meal to ask for a review.

You can promote reviews through your website, blog, emails, and in person. Asking for reviews will likely increase the number of positive reviews, since those with a bad experience are already more likely to voice their concerns. It’s important that you aren’t pushy when asking for reviews, however, as it may turn a previously happy customer sour. 

Another way to generate more reviews and get customer information is through your restaurant’s WiFi. There are WiFi services that require users to sign in with an email address and that allow you to navigate them to a certain website when they sign in. Here, you can ask for a review when they log in. You can also use their email or other info to follow up later. 

 

How To Respond to Negative Reviews 

 

If you decide to engage with negative reviews online, you should do so carefully. While we do recommend this tactic, it’s important that you do it the right way to make the customer feel better, not worse, about their experience. 

While you can defend your restaurant if you feel the customer is seriously misguided, it’s better to simply apologize for their dissatisfaction. Getting defensive won’t change the customer’s opinion, and it may look bad. If you are going to contest some part of a review, you may want to message the customer privately to discuss their complaint rather than fight it out on a public forum. 

Even if the customer is in the wrong, it will look better to apologize. Arguing with a customer over a complaint may scare off other customers and will not look good for your all around reputation. We recommend apologizing for their bad experience, acknowledging their complaint, and then moving further procedures offline if needed. You may also want to cite a company policy or restaurant mission that contradicts their complaint without saying they were wrong. For example, 

“We’re so sorry to hear about your experience at our establishment. Our policy is to serve the customer needs first, and we are usually known for our great customer service. We regret failing to live up to expectations and our own standards. If you’re open to discussing this further, please contact us at . . .” 

This acknowledges the customer’s complaint while still maintaining that it is not your typical service. Once they’ve contacted you separately through a private channel, you can do more to rectify the situation, figure out what actually happened, and offer some sort of apology perk if needed. Offering a discount off a meal can go a long way to bring them back to your restaurant and make amends. 

 

Improve Your Restaurant’s Ratings

 

Use these tactics to get more positive reviews and boost your restaurant’s star rating. A study from the University of California – Berkeley found that even a half star rating increase on Yelp can make it 19% more likely that your restaurant will be booked during peak hours. The stats don’t lie and it’s really quite simple – a good online presence will improve sales at your restaurant.

The post How To Improve Restaurant Ratings appeared first on Restaurant Clicks.

How to Improve Your Restaurant’s Profit Margin

Restaurant profit margins are typically lower than those of other types of businesses. That being said, in this industry it’s important to stay on top of your money.

In this article, we’ll cover how to calculate your restaurant’s profit margins, and how to increase them by increasing sales volume and lowering your cost of operation.

Calculating Restaurant Profit Margins

 

Now that we’re familiar with the basics, the first step is to calculate what your current profit margins are. Let’s cover the basics of what these terms mean and then get into the math.

Gross Margin vs. Profit Margin

 

The gross revenue of your business is not the same as your profits – profit refers to what amount of money you netted after subtracting the total costs. Both gross margins and net profit margins are good to know, and you’ll need to know the gross profits to calculate the net profits for your business.

Gross Profit

 

To calculate gross profit, subtract the cost of an item’s ingredients from its listed menu price. This is a simple way to determine the efficiency of your restaurant before factoring in other costs.

For example, if you’re selling a chicken sandwich that costs $2.50 to make for $7.50, your gross profit for that single item was $5.00. Your gross revenue is important to know, but running a restaurant isn’t quite that simple.

Gross Margin Percentage Formula:

(GROSS PROFIT= SALES PRICE – COST OF PRODUCTION)

 

Net Profit Margin

 

Now that we’re familiar with gross revenue, it’s time to consider the most important number, your net profit margin. Simply explained, your net profit margin is equal to how much money your restaurant is making after factoring in all costs.

At this point you’re probably wondering, what is a good net profit average? Restaurants typically have a net profit margin of 3-5%. This number varies a lot from business to business, depending on location, convenience, staffing, etc., and can get as high as over 15%.

Restaurant expenses to consider when calculating your net profit margin include, but are not limited to:

      • Rent
      • Bills
      • Ingredients
      • Equipment
      • Wages
      • Maintenance
      • Losses

 

How To Calculate Net Profit Margin:

(NET PROFIT = GROSS PROFIT – EXPENSES & LOSSES)

In summary, gross profit shows how efficiently your individual food sales are run, and net profit factors this in and determines how efficiently your restaurant runs as a whole.

 

Increasing Restaurant Profit Margins

You’ve calculated your net profit for your current business model, and now it’s time to improve upon it.

As mentioned previously, there are two very basic factors that determine how much money your business pulls in. They consist of your business’s sales volume and its cost of operation. Optimizing these factors is the key to taking control of your profit margins. The goal is to increase sales while lowering costs.

Increasing Sales Volume

Arguably the most important factor to consider when running a restaurant business is the customer. Understanding their needs and behaviors is what makes a good restaurant great. This is the difference between a restaurant that’s trying to keep its head above the water, and a restaurant with raving loyal customers. Consider the following when working to increase your sales volume.

Customer Service

 

Man Standing In Front Of Counter

The customer is always right! Look for areas of improvement in your customer’s overall experience. If you’re having trouble finding these areas of improvement, there are a few ways to look for this information.

Restaurant comment cards are cards that allow customers to give feedback about their restaurant experience. Many restaurants are also utilizing online surveys and offering coupons to customers who complete them. Finally, Yelp and other restaurant review websites allow customers to publicly share their individual restaurant experiences. All of your customer’s critiques are valuable information when identifying your business’s areas of improvement. Check out review sites and see where you can improve.

 

Menu Placement

 

The layout of your menu plays a big role in your customer’s decision making process. Something as small as your menu can be optimized in different ways to help your profit margins. One common menu placement strategy for restaurants is called relative placement.

Relative placement is when you put a high pricing menu item next to a lower pricing one. When the customer sees this, they are more likely to assume they’re getting a good deal on the lower priced item, and will buy it.

Another tactic used mainly in the fast food industry is the concept of meal upgrades. When listing an item that’s sold in varying sizes, list the different sizes and their prices immediately next to it. This way a customer looking to save money and get a small order of french fries will see that a medium french fry only costs a dollar more, and will be tempted to buy it.

 

Online Presence

 

A solid online presence will play a big role in how many people end up visiting your establishment. Nowadays, most people will do their research before physically visiting a restaurant. Rightfully so – it’s a no-brainer way to save yourself from a bad meal.

Having a professional looking website with a clear layout and listed menu items will make your restaurant significantly more marketable. Most restaurants have these things already, but those that don’t either don’t realize how much it’s hurting them, or have an established loyal audience to sustain them. Others may have a great website, but without proper SEO no one will find it.

Having a professional website is key, but there’s more about your restaurant online than what you put there. As previously mentioned, restaurant review sites give customers a huge online platform to review your restaurant. There are plenty of review and reservation websites out there, and if your restaurant has poor reviews it may scare off customers.

Keep an eye out for any page that comes up when you search the name of your business. Reviews on Yelp and on other public forms can usually be replied to, and doing so helps show people who view them that you care. Replying to negative reviews and attempting to resolve the issue can even cause the user to take the review down, or make a new review.

 

Ordering Online

 

Does your restaurant offer takeout or delivery services? Making these services available for order on your restaurant’s website is an easy way to accept more customer’s business. More and more people are turning to ordering their food on the internet, for a good reason.

Ordering online is convenient, and it gives people more time to consider their choices when compared to ordering on the phone. Be sure to have a clearly navigable online ordering system that offers promotions throughout the ordering process. Don’t forget to implement the same menu placement strategies that were discussed earlier in the article.

 

Lowering Cost of Operation

Now that you’re making more sales, you’ll want to make the most out of each one. It doesn’t matter how many sales you make if you’re not running an efficient business.

Price point is a huge factor for both you, the restaurant owner, and for consumers. It’s a fundamental factor that will make or break your restaurant.

If your restaurant is too expensive your sales volume will drop. If your prices are too low, you won’t be making enough profit. Finding the sweet spot in your menu’s price point is key if you want to optimize your profit margins.

Aside from optimizing menu items for the best profitability, you can also look for other ways to cut costs. Some things, like rent and staff costs, cannot be changed. Others can be manipulated to save money.

 

1/3 Rule

 

A good rule of thumb is to make sure your menu items cost roughly ⅓ of what they’re listed as on the menu. It won’t always work out that way, since some items have expensive ingredients and some are cheaper to make. Don’t follow this rule too tightly, but it’s good to keep it in mind as you move forward in your restaurant venture.

 

Know Your Location

 

Your location plays a big role in how you should strategize your menu items. Those who live in low to middle class areas are more likely to purchase cheap meals with lower quality and high value. However, if your restaurant is located in a more wealthy area, you’re going to want to raise the ingredient quality, and your prices along with it.

 

Optimizing Table Turnover

 

table setting

A table’s turnover is the total amount of time a guest spends at a table at your restaurant. Optimally if you’re busy, you’ll want customers to spend the least amount of time at their tables while spending the most amount of money. The less time they spend at their table, the more customers you get to seat.

That being said, don’t make your customers feel rushed. Their customer experience is still very important, and people don’t like being shooed out of restaurants. Keep your servers working at a brisk, balanced pace that keeps customers rotating through your business without feeling rushed.

 

Specials

 

Offering specials regularly is a good way to use up abundant ingredients and sell them more easily at potentially higher prices. If you really want to push a certain special, make sure your servers know this so they can give customers more information.

Experiment with different specials and see how your customers take to them. Listen to what the customers are telling the servers. If an item sells particularly well, or is easy to make, you can offer the special weekly or even add it to your regular menu.

 

Ingredients

 

When calculating or cutting the cost of your ingredients, you have to strike a balance. You don’t want to cut costs on ingredients and sacrifice the quality of your food. There are ways to budget your inventory, however. If you’re starting a new restaurant, shop around for food suppliers to test out different prices and quality. If your restaurant is established, you can also search for different food suppliers if you aren’t happy with yours. You can also look into different bulk pricing for items that won’t go bad too quickly.

There may be certain items that you can cut costs on easily without hurting the quality of your food. While meats and fresh produce should always be of the highest possible quality, there may be room to cut costs on other items or switch to a less expensive brand.

 

Utilities

 

A simple factor that many restaurant owners overlook when budgeting are utilities. On average, restaurants consume a lot more electricity than other commercial buildings. Investing in lights that use less energy might cost more initially, it can help your restaurant save money in the long run.

Final Thoughts on Improving Restaurant Profit Margins

When increasing restaurant profit margins, the biggest factors to consider are sales volume and cost of operation. Be sure to find the right balance between the two to provide good customer service and cultivating a loyal customer base while making good money in the process.

The post How to Improve Your Restaurant’s Profit Margin appeared first on Restaurant Clicks.

Burrito Bonito serves up Mexican cuisine in Old City, Philadelphia

Burrito Bonito, a new restaurant from the owners of JJ Bootleggers, recently opened up shop in Old City. The restaurant, which serves quick-serve, build-your-own burritos, tacos, and salads, is located at 212 Market Street in the heart of Old City, Philadelphia. 

Burrito Bonito joins the ranks of other quick-serve burrito joints like Chipotle and Qdoba. Unlike the big chains, however, Burrito Bonito is focused on quality ingredients and customer experience. 

Their guacamole is made fresh in-house daily. The tortillas are also homemade, baked fresh for each specific order. Burrito Bonito is committed to serving fresh, homemade burritos made with high quality ingredients. 

Build Your Own Burritos, Tacos, Salads, and More

 

Each meal at Burrito Bonito is made-to-order, so the customer always gets what they want. Their menu offers burritos, tacos, and salads, as well as sides and drinks. 

Whether you order a burrito, taco, or salad, you have a choice of protein. Burrito Bonito provides all the classic fillings like grilled chicken, pulled chicken, pork carnitas, ground beef, and steak churrasco, but they also offer vegan and vegetarian options, like vegan ground beef and portobello barbacoa mushrooms. 

Once customers have chosen their meat or plant-based protein, they can choose their rice, beans, and choose from a long list of toppings. Burrito Bonito offers the standard options, including their fresh homemade guacamole, queso, peppers and onions, shredded cheese, and so on. They also offer various salsas and taco sauces, including a pineapple salsa and a seasonally changing salsa. 

Aside from their main menu, Burrito Bonito offers sides, drinks (including horchata), and a fried cheesecake dessert. 

 

Burrito Bonito Hours and Location

 

Burrito Bonito offers fair and affordable pricing, with most of their meals costing about $10. Whether you’re grabbing lunch on your break from work or looking to sit down and enjoy the views of Old City, this burrito shop is a great option for a fresh and delicious meal. They also offer online ordering and delivery on their website, and they are available on UberEats, DoorDash, Grubhub, and Seamless. 

Burrito Bonito is open for lunch and dinner all week, from 11am to 11pm. On weekends, they are open late until 3am, so you can stop in for a late night snack. Burrito Bonito is located in Old City at 212 Market Street, a short walk from some of the most famous historical sites in Philadelphia.

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11 Best Restaurant Review Sites of 2020

Your restaurant’s online reviews can make or break your business. Studies have shown that 82% of consumers read online reviews for local businesses before visiting, so it’s vital that your business is present on review websites and has great ratings. 

Certain review sites like Google and Yelp tend to get more traffic than other, less popular restaurant review websites. We’ve compiled the most relevant and best review sites for restaurants, so you can monitor your restaurant’s online presence. Check out the most important restaurant review sites today! 

Top 11 Restaurant Review Sites 

      1. Google My Business
      2. Yelp
      3. Facebook
      4. OpenTable
      5. TripAdvisor
      6. Zagat
      7. Zomato
      8. Foursquare
      9. Gayot
      10. The Infatuation
      11. Restaurant Delivery and Review Sites

 

Google My Business

 

Google My Business is easily the most highly trafficked and relevant review site that you should worry about. Google restaurant reviews appear when anyone searches for your restaurant or for general restaurants in your area, so it’s vital that you have good reviews. 

If someone searches for your business and sees that the last few reviews were negative, it very likely may deter them from becoming a customer. Since Google is the largest search engine, with an estimated 5.8 billion searches daily, it’s important that your restaurant is listed on Google My Business, the information is correct, and the reviews are positive. 

Getting listed on Google My Business is free, so every restaurant should make sure they are listed here. This makes it possible to appear in Google Maps searches for restaurants, and makes it easier for customers to find you. 


Yelp

 

Yelp is one of the best known review sites online, and it dominates the search rankings. It’s estimated that Yelp receives over 178 million unique monthly users each month, so there’s a huge potential for customers to find your restaurant business on this review website. About 20% of the reviews on Yelp are for restaurants. 

When searching for the best restaurants in any given area, Yelp is typically one of the first results. That means it’s important that your business is listed on Yelp, and that the reviews are positive. If you claim your business listing on Yelp, you can respond to reviews either publicly or privately, which can help with customer engagement and can assuage those who gave bad reviews to reconsider. 

 

Facebook

 

Facebook is one of the largest and most trafficked websites, so it’s no surprise that Facebook reviews are important for restaurants. With almost 2.5 billion active monthly users, there’s a huge audience on Facebook that may leave a review or check out your restaurant’s reviews before visiting.

The good part about Facebook reviews is that it’s easy to engage with customers on the platform, so you can respond to reviews. Responding to negative reviews can help customers feel heard, and with great customer service it can turn a bad review into a good one. 

Facebook is also a great website for a social media marketing strategy as well as social ads. Advertising on Facebook can help reach a huge, targeted audience with the right practices. 

 

OpenTable

 

OpenTable is a great review site as well as an online reservation system for restaurants. This is one of the biggest websites for booking tables, so it’s important that your reviews are positive. If someone visits OpenTable to make a reservation at your restaurant and they see poor reviews, they can easily find a new restaurant on the site. There are over 50,000 restaurants on OpenTable.

OpenTable reports that they seat over 131 million diners monthly. It’s safe to say that many of those customers will probably check out the reviews before they make their booking, especially if the restaurant’s rating is negative or has a low star rating. Check up on your restaurant’s OpenTable listing to ensure that the reviews are positive! 

 

TripAdvisor

 

TripAdvisor reviews all things travel-related, including restaurants worldwide. You don’t have to be coming from out of town to find yourself reading TripAdvisor reviews, however, and many people searching for “restaurants near me” will click on TripAdvisor and read reviews before choosing where to dine. 

TripAdvisor also functions as a reservation booking website. You can claim ownership of your restaurant on TripAdvisor to edit the description, images, and respond to customer reviews. 

 

Zagat

 

Zagat is one of the oldest and most well known restaurant rating and review websites. Zagat reviews began in 1979 as a printed guide to restaurants. This site rates websites on a 30-point scale, so it’s less customer-based than the other review sites on this list. 

Zagat was bought by Google in 2011, so Zagat reviews often appear on Google Business pages. This makes it even more important to check out Zagat and ensure that reviews and ratings are generally positive. Since Zagat is heavily integrated with Google, not only will reviews be more visible, but it may affect search rankings for your restaurant. 

 

Zomato

 

Zomato, formerly known as Urbanspoon, is another highly regarded and frequently visited review site for restaurants. It features over a million restaurants across various countries. This restaurant review site pulls reviews from food critics, bloggers, and everyday customers.

Restaurant owners can claim their business on this site. Once you claim your restaurant listing on Zomato, you can reply to customers who leave reviews, edit your business information, and advertise your listing to get more customers to visit. Customers can also make reservations through Zomato once they’ve found a restaurant. 

 

Foursquare

 

Foursquare is a business review site and app that lists various businesses, including restaurants. Many users use Foursquare to discover restaurants and read reviews before visiting, or leave reviews afterwards. 

Like most other review sites, you can claim your business and edit the information so that it is correct and up to date. While Foursquare doesn’t receive as much traffic as sites like Yelp or OpenTable, it’s still a formidable online presence, so it’s good to make sure your business is listed and has positive reviews. 

 

Gayot

 

Gayot, named after a famous French food critic, is another restaurant review publication that has been around for 50 years. This site publishes professional reviews from food critics, but it also allows customers to leave their own reviews. Gayot has a global following, so it’s helpful to have great reviews on this site. 

Gayot uses a 20-point scale for rating restaurants, and judges not only food but service, ambiance, and other factors. You can’t claim your business listing on this site, but you can advertise on it. 

 

The Infatuation

 

The Infatuation publishes in-depth restaurant reviews. It does not allow all customers to leave a review on their site, but those who frequent this site take the reviews to heart. The Infatuation does not review restaurants in as broad of locations as other sites, so check first to see if your area and restaurant are even listed. 

The Infatuation is owned by Zagat, so they display similar rankings and create restaurant guides. 

 

Restaurant Delivery and Review Sites 

 

Aside from standard restaurant review websites, many online delivery platforms also function as review sites. If your restaurant delivers through any third-party delivery apps or websites, you should check out the reviews on there. Poor reviews will stop many customers from ordering, which can seriously affect your delivery-based revenue. 

Popular delivery services include GrubHub, UberEats, Seamless, Postmates, Doordash, and more. Each allows customers to leave reviews, so if your restaurant is listed on any or a few, be sure to check in on star ratings. 

 

Why Restaurant Review Sites Matter

 

Restaurant review sites are important because so many potential customers use them. There’s no avoiding online reviews, so it’s best to accept their influence and work to improve ratings and reviews. 

One study by Harvard Business School found that even a one star increase in Yelp ratings could increase revenue by 5-9%, especially for independent restaurants as opposed to chains. This means that even if you aren’t particularly invested in your restaurant’s online reputation, it can seriously influence reservations, orders, and in turn profits. 

Having your correct information listed on these sites is also important so that customers can find your restaurant and learn more about it. Correct business listings also influence search engine rankings, so this can also help your website’s SEO.

Reviews for your restaurant will be written and published online whether you like it or not. More often than not, the people who are most likely to review are the ones who had a bad experience. And even if you don’t claim your restaurant on these review sites, the information will be there for customers either way. It’s important that you check in on restaurant review sites to correct any business information and engage with customers to improve reviews. 

 

Monitor and Manage Restaurant Reviews

 

Find out what review sites feature your restaurant, and claim the business if possible. Claiming your restaurant will make it easier to keep up with reviews, and it gives you the chance to respond to reviews. Responding will reinforce that you care about customers and can help you turn a bad review around by offering some incentive to come back.

Monitor your restaurant’s online presence to ensure that you’re not losing customers due to bad publicity. Learn more about restaurant marketing and reputation management by checking out our restaurant marketing plan!

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Restaurant Soft Opening Ideas for 2020

You’ve applied for all the permits, created your menus, and trained the staff: your new restaurant is ready to open! Hosting a soft opening has become a popular, even standard practice before the grand opening of your restaurant. 

There are different strategies when planning a soft opening, so we’ve compiled a list of soft opening ideas as well as soft opening planning tips to make sure your restaurant is ready for guests. But first, let’s look at the meaning of a soft opening and why many restaurants choose to host one.

What is a Soft Opening? 

 

A soft opening, also called a soft launch, is a smaller, limited opening to a business. Many restaurants host soft openings before they open fully to the public. A soft launch is typically an invite-only event for a small crowd, where a limited version of the full service is offered. 

There are various benefits to a soft launch, especially for restaurants. Soft openings work as a great trial run for your menu, staff, restaurant technology like POS systems, and for the flow of your restaurant as a whole. Hosting a soft opening gives you a chance to identify and work out any kinks before your doors are open to the general public.

After a soft launch, you can get feedback on your menu, service, branding, and more. This is vital information that can help you make tweaks before opening your restaurant full-time. A soft launch mitigates the risk of opening your restaurant and realizing you weren’t prepared. 

Soft openings are also a great way to generate buzz about your restaurant opening. Inviting the right people can help spread publicity about your restaurant, especially if they have a great experience. 

 

Soft Opening Ideas for Restaurants 

 

      1. Friends and Family Soft Opening
      2. Soft Launch for the Local Community
      3. Industry Soft Opening
      4. Media and Influencer Soft Opening
      5. Host Multiple Soft Openings

 

Friends and Family Soft Opening

 

It’s common to host a soft opening for the friends and family members of the restaurants owners, managers, and staff. A crowd of friends and family will be more forgiving if things don’t run as smoothly as you’d like. This also helps staff get comfortable and feel more confident, as it’s not a high stakes opening.

Inviting friends and family will also garner good press and support, as they are more likely to become ambassadors for your brand. They can help spread the word about your restaurant and  share what a great time they had online and through word of mouth. 

Inviting friends and family to a soft opening will also inspire some loyalty, as they will likely be flattered to be included in the opening phases of your restaurant. This should begin to create a customer base, since they will hopefully return if they had a good time. 

The only real drawback to a friends and family soft opening is that they may be too kind when giving feedback. A soft opening is vital for fine-tuning your restaurant, so ask for honest feedback, even if it is negative. Ultimately, honest feedback will help your restaurant as you can improve upon any issues before opening to the public. 

 

Soft Launch for the Local Community

 

Make friends with your neighbors early by inviting people from your local community to a soft opening. A common practice is to invite local business owners and staff, especially if you’re in an area with lots of local businesses or a busy commercial street. 

Inviting local businesses will help to introduce your restaurant to the local business community and meet on good terms. It can also help generate support from your business neighbors, which is always a good thing.

Inviting other businesses to a soft launch establishes your place in the community and makes it clear that you intend to be active and inclusive. In the future, you may work together or partner on events, so it’s great to start on the right foot. 

You can also invite local organizations or charities to get even more involved in the community. This could also lead to future partnerships, and they are likely to become returning customers if they enjoy your soft opening. 

 

Industry Soft Opening

 

Another great option is to host an industry night soft opening. If you plan to be an industry restaurant that offers discounts to other restaurant and hospitality workers, this is a good way to form that relationship early. 

This can include both local restaurants or city-wide industry leaders. This crowd has experience and potentially influence on the restaurant industry in your area, so it can help form ties that can benefit you later.

Restaurant owners and employees will be able to offer better feedback from their own knowledge of the industry, so this soft launch can really help to work out kinks and find areas to improve upon. 

 

Media and Influencer Soft Opening 

 

To generate more press about your restaurant’s opening, invite local members of the media and influencers. This soft launch group will have a large audience that they can tell about your restaurant, so if you offer a great experience you can get great PR in return. 

Look for members of the press who frequently review restaurants or search for popular local food bloggers, food influencers, or lifestyle influencers who can tell their followers about your restaurant. You may want to offer a free meal in exchange for a mention so that you ensure that you benefit from having them stop by. 

You’ll want to put your best foot forward for this soft opening so that your guests only share great things – you wouldn’t want a food blogger with 10,000 followers telling everyone that your soft opening was a mess. Make sure your processes are buttoned up and your staff is ready.

It can also help to set up a good area for pictures, since Instagram foodies will want a post-worthy photo. Make sure they also follow and tag your restaurant on whatever social channels they use. 

 

Host Multiple Soft Openings 

 

You don’t have to host only a single soft opening – instead, you could host multiple soft openings with different groups. This also gives you an opportunity to test different menus and try different strategies to see what works best. 

If you host a few soft openings, or even a full week, you can invite different groups each night. You may want to start with friends and family and work your way up to media and influencers, that way you can work out basic issues before having press present. 

Hosting multiple soft launches is a good trial run for your staff and for the whole restaurant. If you offer different meals, you could host a soft opening for lunch, dinner, breakfast, brunch, or even happy hour depending on your offerings. This way, you get practice with each. 

The biggest drawbacks to hosting multiple soft opening events is cost. While you can introduce a larger number of guests to your restaurant with a soft opening, you don’t want to waste too much money hosting all of these events. Budget for your openings to ensure that you stay financially responsible while planning. 

 

Planning a Soft Opening

 

Once you have an idea of what kind of soft launch you want to try and who you want to invite, it’s time to plan the event itself. There are a few important considerations to keep in mind. 

 

Menus

 

What menu will you offer at your soft opening? Often, restaurants offer a limited menu rather than the full thing. Decide whether you’re offering a full menu, a limited one, or what dishes you’d like to feature. If you have any signature items, be sure to include those.

If you’re hosting more than one soft opening, you can test different menus and menu items for each. This can generate useful feedback about dishes and menu combinations, and help you cut down if you’re looking to create a shorter menu. 

 

Pricing 

 

Soft openings often offer free or discounted food. This is a common practice, so if you’re inviting guests to a soft opening make sure they know what, if anything, they’ll be paying for. Miscommunication on pricing can make for a poor soft opening. 

Offering free food will please your guests, but can be costly for your business. If you choose to offer a free soft opening, you may want to offer small plates rather than full meals or a shorter event or smaller guest list to cut down on costs. While it may generate positive press for your restaurant, you need to stay profitable once you open.

A discounted menu is another option that still incentivizes coming to your soft opening without giving away food completely free. Guests will appreciate the opportunity to dine at a cheaper rate, but you’ll still make back some or all of the cost of the event. 

You could also charge a flat ticket price for your soft opening that covers the full experience. This method covers the cost of the soft launch up front and makes it clear right away what they’ll pay and what they’ll receive in return. Make sure if you do this that they are getting a good deal for the price of their ticket, however. 

You can host a soft opening and charge full price, but this is not customary. We recommend at least offering a discount so that guests are incentivized to attend, and so they appreciate the invitation more. 

 

Staff

 

Make sure your staff is fully trained and prepared for your soft opening. There may be some mishaps and mistakes – that’s okay, that’s why you’re doing a soft opening first. This test run will help them get comfortable in their positions before you’re open full time.

If your soft opening is different than your standard day-to-day practices, make sure staff understands the difference and is prepared to shift to normal procedures once you’re open. 

Ask the staff for feedback after a soft opening to get more perspective on how things went, where you can improve, and what issues they ran into. Fostering an open and communicative work space will only improve upon your service. Make sure they feel comfortable expressing their opinions and sharing their experiences so that you can help the restaurant run better. 

 

Soft Opening Invitations 

 

How will you invite guests to your soft opening? Since a soft launch is invite-only, you can hand select your guest list. While not everyone will come, you can still choose who to invite and add more guests if needed. 

Depending on what audience you’re inviting, your invitations may be more or less personal. We recommend a more personal invitation so that guests feel included. If you’re inviting friends and family, personal should be easy. In the local community, it can be easy to walk around and visit neighboring businesses to give them an invite. 

Physical invitations are a nice touch, but you can also send invites online. Creating an online event or tracking through email can also help better keep track of your guest list. Asking them to RSVP online can also help test your online reservation system

 

Collecting Feedback

 

Soft openings are a great way to get feedback, so you want to make sure you have a plan for this ahead of time. You can offer feedback cards at the event for people to fill out, or give them access to an online form to submit afterwards. If you have their email addresses, you can send them a feedback request shortly after the event. 

We also recommend that an owner or manager is at the event, talking to guests and asking about their experience as it happens. While you may not receive much constructive feedback in person like this, it helps to show that you’re engaged and working on creating an excellent experience for guests. 

However you collect feedback, be sure to ask a few different questions about the food, the service, the restaurant’s style, and their overall experience. Give them the opportunity to provide any added feedback you didn’t ask about so that you can learn more. 

Once you’ve received their reviews, you can tweak wherever necessary before the grand opening and for your daily practices. 

 

Soft Opening vs. Grand Opening

 

You can do both! There is no need to choose between a soft opening and a grand opening. While both have different benefits and vastly different strategies, many restaurants hold both a soft launch (or a few) and a grand opening.

Use the insights from your soft opening to inform your grand opening. If you realized during the soft opening that the kitchen moved too slowly, you can plan to speed up your processes in time for the grand opening and for daily customers once you’re open. You can also take what worked from your soft opening and use it for your grand opening.

Encourage guests who attend your soft opening to promote your restaurant and the grand opening to their friends, family, and online! Your soft launch is a great opportunity to put your best foot forward, fine tune your restaurant’s processes, and prepare for the official opening of your new restaurant.

The post Restaurant Soft Opening Ideas for 2020 appeared first on Restaurant Clicks.

How to Write a Restaurant Mission Statement (with 8 Examples)

If you think mission statements are useless blurbs used to fill the “About Me” page on your website, you’re wrong. When used correctly, a restaurant mission statement outlines the path of success for your brand, sets expectations for your restaurant, and sets the tone for your audience moving forward.

What is a Mission Statement?

 

A restaurant’s mission statement is a sentence or group of sentences that reflects your restaurant’s brand identity and core values. This will help you communicate to your customers what your brand stands for. On top of this, it can help you make decisions based on what your audience already likes about your restaurant.

A mission statement is important to establish when opening a restaurant, and it is typically included in your restaurant business plan. The style of mission statements varies from restaurant to restaurant. Let’s take a look at what makes a successful restaurant mission statement.

 

How to Write Your Best Restaurant Mission Statement

 

A mission statement should tell your audience what separates your brand from the competition. The more generic your mission statement, the more likely it is for someone to gloss over your brand. What makes your restaurant unique? Why do people go to your pizzeria instead of the one across the street?

Another important question to ask yourself when forming a mission statement is what are your restaurant’s values? What inspired you to become a restaurant owner? Does your restaurant create a sense of community within your customer base? Consider your restaurant branding and the individual identity of your restaurant business when writing your mission statement.

 

Ask Questions to Create a Mission Statement

 

Asking yourself questions like this will help you establish or realize what makes your restaurant truly different from the competition.

Here’s a list of questions to get your brain moving in the right direction:

  • What makes your restaurant unique?
  • Why do people regularly visit your restaurant?
  • Does your restaurant offer value to its community? (surrounding neighborhood, city, environment, etc.)
  • What does your restaurant offer to your customers?
  • Is there a culture tied into your restaurant or its customers?
  • What do your customers have in common?

 

It doesn’t necessarily stop there. Keep asking new questions until you find a quality insight about why your restaurant is unique.

 

Consider Tone of Voice

 

Coming off as genuine can go a long way when establishing an identity. It can be hard to accomplish this while representing a restaurant or company.

Don’t treat your mission statement like a grueling task. Think about what inspired you to become a restaurant owner. Trust your values and have some fun, and it will show in your statement.

Match the tone of your mission statement to that of your restaurant. If you own a fun-loving bar, that can come through in your mission statement. If you own an upscale restaurant that’s serious about food, let that shine through.

 

Difference Between a Vision Statement and a Mission Statement

 

A common phrase that’s often confused with mission statements are vision statements. Some brands mix them both, while some will keep them separate.

If a mission statement is your set of values combined with what you bring to the table, your vision statement is what you want to accomplish through doing this. For example, if your mission statement has an emphasis on environmental safety, your vision statement might be “Our goal is to build a more sustainable world for generations to come.”

Later in the article, we’ll provide some examples of mission statements, some of which will have ingrained vision statements as well.

 

Restaurant Mission Statement Examples

Here are some of the best mission statements from popular restaurants to help you get your creative juices flowing.

 

McDonald’s

Mcdonald Drive Thru Road Signage

“McDonald’s brand mission is to be our customers’ favorite place and way to eat and drink. Our worldwide operations are aligned around a global strategy called the Plan to Win, which center on an exceptional customer experience – People, Products, Place, Price and Promotion. We are committed to continuously improving our operations and enhancing our customers’ experience.”

McDonald’s is a unique example because of their worldwide presence. Their emphasis is on the customer experience, presenting their mission “to be our customers’ favorite place and way to eat and drink.” They don’t beat around the bush or speak to their weaknesses, only putting their best foot forward in their strengths.

McDonald’s has a good mission statement given their popularity, but a smaller restaurant would want something that hits closer to home. Let’s take a look at a smaller chain.

 

Bubbakoo’s Burritos

 

“The roots of Bubbakoo’s are in the skater and shore scene, but all are welcome in what’s quickly become a neighborhood hub of activity. Paul and Bill realize service can be the deciding factor in a restaurant’s growth. They believe outstanding service and attention to detail have contributed to the tremendously positive word-of-mouth about Bubbakoo’s.”

Bubbakoo’s Burritos is a fast-growing burrito chain mainly located along the New Jersey shore. They have over 30 locations, most of which opened fairly recently. Their mission statement embraces their original Jersey shore surfer scene, while keeping their arms open as a family establishment.

Sticking to their core values and focusing on the customer experience are what helped this restaurant grow from one location to a chain of over 30 different locations across the United States.

 

Flour Bakery & Cafe

 

“Make amazing food – Offer warm welcoming service – Give back to the neighborhood – Run an efficient, profitable business – Make Flour a better place for both our customers and ourselves.”

Flour Bakery & Cafe is a small chain of bakeries located in Massachusetts. Their mission statement is short but straightforward, and makes a lot of optimistic promises.

A key detail here is their promise to give back to the neighborhood. Consumers notice when brands care about their community and many consumers will only spend money at smaller, local establishments for this reason.

When you visit their website you can see a list of local businesses in the area that they support. These businesses range anywhere from flour providers and smokehouses to other restaurants.

 

Chipotle

 

“Ensuring that better food, prepared from whole, unprocessed ingredients is accessible to everyone.”

Short and sweet, Chipotle puts an emphasis on food quality and accessibility. Chipotle has branded themselves as a healthier fast food option with quality ingredients, and has seen wild success in the last 15 years.

While some may debate how healthy a burrito from Chipotle can actually be, for the price point they do provide quality ingredients. Their brand builds on this health-conscious mission statement by making the assumption that health conscious people are more likely to care about the environment.

To capitalize on this, many of their bags, cups, and other paper goods are made from recycled materials. The products made from recycled material are labeled as such, so by ordering Chipotle, the customer gets 4 benefits. They get cheap food, fast service, quality ingredients, and are helping the environment, all for around $10 per meal. This is what keeps customers coming back.

 

Iron Hill Brewery

 

“Inspire loyalty in both our guests and in our staff.”

Another short mission statement that tells you that they care. All restaurants want loyal customers, but this statement goes beyond that.

To inspire loyalty within your own staff means there’s a bond shared among those who work there. It communicates a sense of family to the consumer. Iron Hill paints the picture of a unique and passionate brewery where you’ll be treated right.

 

Starbucks

 

Close-up Photography of Starbucks Disposable Cup

“To inspire and nurture the human spirit – one person, one cup, and one neighborhood at a time.”

Starbucks’ mission statement reads very appropriately for a coffee shop. It breaks down into two parts.

The first part, “To inspire and nurture the human spirit,” manifests what people look for in an ideal coffee shop. People take their coffee very seriously, it’s their time to sharpen up and build motivation for the day.

The second part speaks to the individual, “one person, one cup, and one neighborhood at a time.” It allows Starbucks to speak personally, despite being a large corporation.

 

Mixt

 

“From sprout to plate, we’re all about offering smart, healthy, on-the-go people, smart, healthy, on-the-go food.”

Another health conscious example, Mixt is a fast chain food that focuses on health foods. The tone of their mission statement is playful, and they pride their customers on being “smart, healthy, on-the-go people.”

 

Zambrero

 

“A Mexican restaurant with a mission to end world hunger.”

Our final example, Zambrero, is another small chain with a powerful promise to help end world hunger. By doing this, not only are they helping make a difference in the world, but they’re drawing in customers who are passionate about humanitarian issues. This mission statement doubles as a vision statement, as there’s a clear goal in their future.

Staying true to their mission statement, their website keeps track of how many meals they’ve donated to people in need. To say you want to make a change is a start, but backing it up with numbers and examples reinforces their mission statement to the public.

 

Final Thoughts on Writing a Restaurant Mission Statement

 

Now that you understand what makes a strong mission statement successful, start creating your own. Find out why you stand out, try not to sound like a brand robot, and don’t be afraid to take pride in your work.

The post How to Write a Restaurant Mission Statement (with 8 Examples) appeared first on Restaurant Clicks.