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Making a Risk Management Plan for Your Business
It’s impossible to eliminate all business risk. Therefore, it’s essential for having a plan for its management. You’ll be developing one covering compliance, environmental, financial, operational and reputation risk management. These guidelines are for making a risk management plan for your business.
Developing Your Executive Summary
When you start the risk management plan with an executive summary, you’re breaking apart what it will be compromised of into easy to understand chunks. Even though this summary is the project’s high-level overview, the goal is describing the risk management plan’s approach and scope. In doing so, you’re informing all stakeholders regarding what to expect when they’re reviewing these plans so that they can set their expectations appropriately.
Who Are the Stakeholders and What Potential Problems Need Identifying?
During this phase of making the risk management plan, you’re going to need to have a team meeting. Every member of the team must be vocal regarding what they believe could be potential problems or risks. Stakeholders should also be involved in this meeting as well to help you collect ideas regarding what could become a potential risk. All who are participating should look at past projects, what went wrong, what is going wrong in current projects and what everyone hopes to achieve from what they learned from these experiences. During this session, you’ll be creating a sample risk management plan that begins to outline risk management standards and risk management strategies.
Evaluate the Potential Risks Identified
A myriad of internal and external sources can pose as risks including commercial, management and technical, for example. When you’re identifying what these potential risks are and have your list complete, the next step is organizing it according to importance and likelihood. Categorize each risk according to how it could impact your project. For example, does the risk threaten to throw off timelines or budgets? Using a risk breakdown structure is an effective way to help ensure all potential risks are effectively categorized and considered. Use of this risk management plan template keeps everything organized and paints a clear picture of everything you’re identifying.
Assign Ownership and Create Responses
It’s essential to ensure a team member is overseeing each potential risk. That way, they can jump into action should an issue occur. Those who are assigned a risk, as well as the project manager, should work as a team to develop responses before problems arise. That way, if there are issues, the person overseeing the risk can refer to the response that was predetermined.
Have a System for Monitoring
Having effective risk management companies plans includes having a system for monitoring. It’s not wise to develop a security risk management or compliance risk management plan, for example, without having a system for monitoring. What this means is there’s a system for monitoring in place to ensure risk doesn’t occur until the project is finished. In doing so, you’re ensuring no new risks will potentially surface. If one does, like during the IT risk management process, for example, your team will know how to react.
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How to Write a Restaurant Business Plan in 2023 (Step by Step Guide with Templates)
Jan 31, 2023 6:30:00 AM
Have you decided to open a restaurant? Has it been something you've thought of doing for years and are finally in a position to make it happen?
Regardless of how much time you've spent conceptualizing your idea and researching the industry, without proper planning, your restaurant is doomed for failure.
That's where a restaurant business plan comes in. A restaurant business plan is a framework that guides you to plan and forecast every element of restaurant management and operations; from menu design, location, financials, employee training, and a lot more, and helps develop your restaurant ideas into a reality.
Read on for everything you need to know about writing a restaurant business plan along with samples and tips.
Why is a Restaurant Business Plan Important?
Many new restauranteurs fail to put together a well-thought-out restaurant business plan because the process can be a bit difficult and time-consuming. But without a proper restaurant business plan, you're shooting in the dark without an aim. It's unlikely that you would be able to secure an investor to help fund your restaurant dream without a proper plan. And even if you do, the lack of proper planning, regulations, and forecasts will set your restaurant up for failure.
Your restaurant business plan is what is going to map out how you plan on turning a profit from your business as well as where your restaurant fits into the saturated market and how you plan on standing out.
A little time and pain early on are worth the reward of a successful restaurant in the long run.
11 key steps a restaurant business plan should include
A good business plan varies from restaurant to restaurant and takes into account factors like style of restaurant, target market, location, etc. If you're new to the restaurant game, the idea of creating a business plan can be daunting. To help you get started, we have highlighted the key elements you need to include when writing a restaurant business plan.
Depending on who you are presenting your business plan to, you can change the order of the sections to reflect priority.
Here are the main components of a restaurant business plan
- Executive Summary
- Company Description
- Market Analysis
- Restaurant Design
- Market Overview
- External help
- Financial Analysis
1. Executive Summary
A restaurant business plan should always begin with an executive summary. An executive summary not only acts as the introduction to your business plan but also a summary of the entire idea.
The main aim of an executive summary is to draw the reader (oftentimes an investor) into the rest of your business plan.
Common elements of an executive summary include:
- Mission statement (learn more about how to write a good mission statement here )
- Proposed concept
- A brief look at potential costs
- Expected return on investments
An executive summary is imperative for those looking to get investors to fund their projects. Instead of having to comb through the entire restaurant business plan to get all the information, they can instead just look through the executive summary.
2. Company Description
This is the part of the restaurant business plan where you fully introduce the company. Start this section with the name of the restaurant you are opening along with the location, contacts, and other relevant information. Also include the owner’s details and a brief description of their experience.
The second part of the company description should highlight the legal standing of the restaurant and outline the restaurant’s short and long-term goals. Provide a brief market study showing that you understand the trends in the regional food industry and why the restaurant will succeed in this market.
3. Market Analysis
The market analysis portion of the restaurant business plan is typically divided into three parts.
3.1 Industry Analysis
What is your target market? What demographics will your restaurant cater to? This section aims to explain your target market to investors and why you believe guests will choose your restaurant over others.
3.2 Competition Analysis
It's easy to assume that everyone will visit your restaurant, so it is important to research your competition to make this a reality. What restaurants have already established a customer base in the area? Take note of everything from their prices, hours, and menu design to the restaurant interior. Then explain to your investors how your restaurant will be different.
3.3 Marketing Analysis
Your investors are going to want to know how you plan to market your restaurant. How will your marketing campaigns differ from what is already being done by others? How do you plan on securing your target market? What kind of offers will you provide your guests? Make sure to list everything.
The most important element to launching your restaurant is the menu . Without it, your restaurant has nothing to serve. At this point, you probably don’t have a final version, but for a restaurant business plan, you should at least try to have a mock-up.
Add your logo to the mock-up and choose a design that you can see yourself actually using. If you are having trouble coming up with a menu design or don’t want to pay a designer, there are plenty of resources online to help.
The key element of your sample menu though should be pricing. Your prices should reflect the cost analysis you’ve done for investors. This will give them a better understanding of your restaurant’s target price point. You'll quickly see how important menu engineering can be, even early on.
The company description section of the restaurant business plan briefly introduces the owners of the restaurant with some information about each. This section should fully flesh out the restaurant management team.
The investors don’t expect you to have your entire team selected at this point, but you should at least have a couple of people on board. Use the talent you have chosen thus far to highlight the combined work experience everyone is bringing to the table.
6. Restaurant Design
The design portion of your restaurant business plan is where you can really show off your thoughts and ideas to the investors. If you don’t have professional mock-ups of your restaurant rendered, that’s fine. Instead, put together a mood board to get your vision across. Find pictures of a similar aesthetic to what you are looking for in your restaurant.
The restaurant design extends beyond aesthetics alone and should include everything from restaurant software to kitchen equipment.
The location you end up choosing for your restaurant should definitely be in line with your target market. At this point, you might not have a precise location set aside, but you should have a few to choose from.
When describing potential locations to your investors, you want to include as much information as possible about each one and why it would be perfect for your restaurant. Mention everything from square footage to typical demographics.
8. Market Overview
The market overview section is heavily related to the market analysis portion of the restaurant business plan. In this section, go into detail about both the micro and macro conditions in the area you want to set up your restaurant.
Discuss the current economic conditions that could make opening a restaurant difficult, and how you aim to counteract that. Mention all the restaurants that could prove to be competition and what your strategy is to set yourself apart.
With restaurants opening left and ride nowadays, investors are going to want to know how you will get word of your restaurant to the world. The marketing and publicity section should go into detail on how you plan to market your restaurant before and after opening. As well as any plans you may have to bring a PR company on board to help spread the word.
Read more: How to write a restaurant marketing plan from scratch
10. External Help
To make your restaurant a reality, you are going to need a lot of help. List any external companies or software you plan on hiring to get your restaurant up and running. This includes everything from accountants and designers to suppliers that help your restaurant perform better, like POS systems and restaurant reservation systems . Explain to your investors the importance of each and what they will be doing for your restaurant.
11. Financial Analysis
The most important part of your restaurant business plan is the financial section . We would recommend hiring professional help for this given its importance. Hiring a trained accountant will not only help you get your financial estimates in order but also give you a realistic insight into owning a restaurant.
You should have some information prepared to make this step easier on the accountant. He/she will want to know how many seats your restaurant has, what the check average per table will be, and how many guests you plan on seating per day.
In addition to this, doing rough food cost calculations for various menu items can help estimate your profit margin per dish. This can be achieved easily with a free food cost calculator.
Restaurant Business Plan Template
Ready to get started? Download our free restaurant business plan template to guide you through the process.
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How to write a restaurant business plan.
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Your business plan will be the roadmap from which your new restaurant develops. No matter how much thought you’ve put into your concept or how many trusted colleagues have assured you of its greatness, you should write a business plan. It will prove the viability of your concept to potential investors and provide them with a clear and engaging answer to the question: “Why does the world need this restaurant?”
“The point of a business plan is to show that you’ve done your homework,” says Charles Bililies, owner of Souvla , a fine casual Greek restaurant in San Francisco that has received national acclaim since opening in the spring of 2014.
“You have to show any potential investor that you have an actual plan, you know what you’re talking about, it looks professional, and you’re not just screwing around.”
What your business plan should cover
The strongest business plans always include all or most of the components described below. Bililies advises that first-time restaurateurs read a bunch of different business plans for other restaurants and technology and retail companies to get a better sense of layout options, writing styles, and clarity of concept. Put the sections that you feel would be most compelling to someone who’s never met you first: the “Management Team” section if you’re coming from high-profile establishments, for example. The goal is for the reader to keep turning the page.
Quick links Branded cover Concept Sample menu Service Management team Design Target market Location Market overview Marketing and publicity Specialists and consultants Business structure Financials
1. Branded cover
Include your logo (even if it’s not finalized), the date, and your name.
Describe your restaurant concept and get the reader excited about your idea. Include an executive summary and go into detail about the food you’ll be serving, inspiration behind your concept, and an overview of service style. Define clearly what will be unique about your restaurant and include your mission statement.
3. Sample menu
The menu is the most important touchpoint of any restaurant’s brand, so this should be more than just a simple list of items. Incorporate your logo and mock up a formatted menu design (tap a designer for help if needed).
Your sample menu should also include prices that are based on a detailed cost analysis. This will give investors a clear understanding of your targeted price point, provide the first building block to figuring out average check estimations needed to create financial projections for starting costs, and show investors that you’ve done the homework needed to be confident that you’ll be able to sell these items at these prices and operate within your budget.
This section is most relevant for fine-dining concepts, concepts that have a unique service style, or if you have particularly strong feelings about what role service will play in your restaurant. It can be a powerful way of conveying your approach to hospitality to investors by explaining the details of the guest’s service experience.
Will your restaurant have counter service and restaurant hostess software designed to get guests on their way as quickly as possible, or will it look more like a theater, with captains putting plates in front of guests simultaneously? If an extensive wine program is an integral part of what you’re doing, will you have a sommelier? If you don’t feel that service is a noteworthy component of your operation, address it briefly in the concept section.
5. Management team
Write a brief overview of yourself and the team you have established so far. You want to demonstrate that the work experience you’ve acquired over the course of your career has provided you with the necessary skills to run a successful restaurant and act as a restaurant business owner. Ideally, once you have described the strong suit of every member of your team, you’ll be presenting a full deck. Most independent restaurant investors are in this for more than just money, so giving some indication of what you value and who you are outside of work may also be helpful.
Incorporate some visuals. Create a mood board that shows images related to the design and feeling of your restaurant. Whether you’re planning to cook in a wood-burning oven or are designing an eclectic front-of-house, be sure to include those ideas. Photos of materials and snippets of other restaurants that you love that are similar to the brand you’re building are also helpful.
7. Target market
Who is going to eat at your restaurant? What do they do for a living, how old are they, and what’s their average income? Once you’ve described them in detail, reiterate why your specific concept will be appealing to them.
T here should be a natural and very clear connection between the information you present in the “Target Market” section and this one. You probably won’t have a specific site identified at this point in the process, but you should talk about viable neighborhoods. Don’t assume that potential investors will be familiar with the areas you’re discussing and who works or lives there—make the connections clear. You want readers to be confident that your restaurant’s “ideal” diner intersects with the neighborhood(s) you’re proposing as often as possible.
If you don’t have a site , this is a good place to discuss what you’re looking for in terms of square footage, foot traffic, parking, freeway accessibility, outdoor seating , and other important details.
9. Market overview
Address the micro and macro market conditions in your area and how they relate to licenses and permits. At a macro level, what are the local and regional economic conditions? If restaurants are doing poorly, explain why yours won’t; if restaurants are doing well, explain how you’ll be able to compete in an already booming restaurant climate. At a micro level, discuss who your direct competitors are. Talk about what types of restaurants share your target market and how you’ll differentiate yourself.
10. Marketing and publicity
The restaurant landscape is only getting more competitive. Discuss your pre- and post-opening marketing plan to show investors how you plan to gain traction leading up to opening day, as well as how you’ll keep the momentum going. If you’re going to retain a PR/marketing company, introduce them and explain why you’ve chosen them over other companies (including some of their best-known clients helps). If not, convey that you have a solid plan in place to generate attention on your own through social media , your website , and media connections.
11. Specialists and consultants
List any outside contractors you plan to retain, such as:
- General contractor
- PR and marketing
Briefly explain the services they’ll be providing for you, why you chose them, and any notable accomplishments.
12. Business structure
This section should be short and sweet. What type of business structure have you set up and why did you make that specific decision? You will need to work with an attorney to help you determine what business structure is best for you.
“Step one: write a business plan. Step two: hire a good attorney. In addition to helping me build a smart, sustainable business structure, my attorney was also a great resource for reviewing my business plan because she’s read thousands of them. She was a very helpful, experienced outside perspective for more than just legal matters.” — Charles Bililies.
Let your accountant guide you through this portion of your business plan. It is crucial that whoever you retain to help you with your finances has a wealth of restaurant experience (not just one or two places), as they should be familiar with the financial specifics of starting a restaurant and know what questions to ask you.
Before creating realistic financial projections, your accountant will want to know approximately how many seats you’re planning on having, what your average check will be, and approximately how many covers per day you plan to do. Being conservative in these estimations is key as these three data points will be used as the basis for figuring out whether your concept is financially feasible.
Lou Guerrero, Principal at Kross, Baumgarten, Kniss & Guerrero, emphasizes, “You’ll get a lot of accountants that tell you that they’ve done a couple of restaurants, but you have to choose someone that has a deep expertise in what you’re doing. There’s nothing to gain from going with someone that doesn’t have a very restaurant-centric practice.”
A well-vetted accountant with restaurant experience will know exactly what you’ll need to have prepared to show investors. The key projections you can expect to work on are:
- Pro forma profit and loss statement for the first three to five years of operation
- Break even analysis
- Capital requirements budget
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Writing or updating your restaurant business plan? Here’s what you should include
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Writing or updating your restaurant business plan? Here’s what you should include Are you considering opening a new restaurant, adding a virtual restaurant , or pivoting your restaurant’s business strategy to adapt to the industry’s “new normal” after the pandemic? Make sure you take the time to build a restaurant business plan. Why?
- Business plans are like professional road maps — they literally lead the way to success
- They’re critical if you’re looking for investors and need to outline your restaurant’s current wins and future revenue potential
- They help you foresee challenges before they arise, so you can sidestep some catastrophes and be better prepared for the others
Some 26% of restaurants fail within a year of opening, and failure to plan is one of the primary reasons those restaurants close. Create a business plan, and you’re setting yourself up to be on the right side of that statistic.
Here’s how to do it.
What is a restaurant business plan?
Before you learn how to write a business plan , it’s crucial to understand what a business plan is — and what it isn’t.
The goal of a business plan is to create a guide that helps you navigate each stage of launching and running your business. That plan should also be comprehensive and articulate enough that a total stranger, for instance an investor, could read through it and easily understand your vision, your goals, and how you intend to turn your restaurant dream into a reality.
Business plans come in a variety of structures and they can be as short as a single page or long enough to bind into a booklet. You may want to start with a lean startup plan that focuses on a high-level take on your strategy, then follow up with a more detailed plan that elaborates on key points and offers investors more information.
In short, your business plan should communicate everything you have and plan to put into your restaurant to ensure ongoing success.
7 elements every restaurant business plan should include
Your restaurant and mission statement should be unique to your business and your vision, but that doesn’t mean you have to start completely from scratch. There are plenty of restaurant business plan examples on the internet, or you can use a free template from the Small Business Association (SBA) as your starting point. However you write it, your finalized business plan should include seven key sections.
1. Executive summary
This is a brief summary of your company, why it’s something the community wants or needs, and why it will be successful. Many different types of restaurants speak to various demographics, and it’s important to know what kind of restaurant you want to run . Are you opening a quick-service deli focused on takeout sandwiches and ready-to-eat salads? Or are you going to be the first tapas restaurant in a city eager for more variety?
If you’re using your business plan to ask for financing, the SBA recommends including financial information and high-level growth plans in your executive summary, too.
Think of your summary as your opportunity to capture your reader’s attention. Many investors will make a split-second decision based on the executive summary alone — if this section is all they’re going to read, make every word count.
2. Restaurant description
Now it’s time to launch into a more detailed description of the company, including its vital differentiator(s) , target audience, and any other factors that could sway investors like experts you’ve brought on board as advisors or a location you’ve already scouted or secured.
You’ll want to include the legal structure of the business, explaining whether you’re a sole proprietorship, LLC, etc., and list out existing management and their roles (including your own).
Now comes the fun part: Writing out a description of your concept. This is where you can let your creative side come out, showcasing your passion for what you hope to create and using plenty of adjectives to engage your readers and give your concept life. You’ve already decided what type of restaurant you’re opening, now flesh out all the other details:
- Service style (counter vs. sit-down, casual vs. fine dining, etc.)
- Restaurant size and seating capacity
- General ambiance, including décor and music
- Options for styles of seating, lighting, and other fixtures
- Operating hours
- Style of cuisine
- Peripheral service offerings such as retail products, delivery/takeout, and catering
- Unique selling points such as using produce grown on an adjacent farm or a 30-minute lunch guarantee to serve the area’s office workers better
3. Sample menu
If you’re a new restaurant, including a sample menu is the only way investors will know what you plan on serving. It’s not enough to say you’re going for “rustic Italian,” as that could mean different things to different people. Chances are your menu is your key differentiator, or at least part of it — otherwise, why will customers choose you over tried-and-true competitors already offering similar dishes?
Collaborate with your chef and keep the core tenets of great menu design in mind:
- Know your audience and tailor your design and descriptions to your target customer base — a college crowd eager for drink deals and shareable eats will be more interested in pictures and flashy pricing than diners looking for a white tablecloth experience
- Menu descriptions should be short but evocative — choose words that help customers understand exactly what they’ll be eating and get them excited about trying it (for example, say “succulent tea-smoked duck with anise-scented plum sauce” rather than “duck with plum sauce”)
- Refer to menu psychology when determining and placing pricing, sticking to simple numerals (no dollar signs) placed to the right of the menu item with no dots or dashes in between
- Use that same psychology to guide customers through your offerings, using call-out boxes and bold text to highlight more profitable items
- View your menu as an extension of your restaurant branding, using the same colors, design elements, and fonts
4. Target market analysis
Detail your target market, using buyer personas to indicate who you see being your primary customer and what their dining habits might look like. These personas should include information on where target customers live, their income levels, their pain points (do they hate long waits or want restaurants that are open later?), and how often they dine out or order in.
5. Marketing plans and competitor analysis
Bolster your business plan with an overview of the industry. This should include competitive research that offers insight into how other restaurants in your niche are doing, what successes they’ve had, and where they’ve faltered so you can learn from those mistakes. Refer again to your key differentiators, this time explaining how your restaurant will address the current market and exceed customer expectations.
This is an excellent place to include your marketing plan , too. For example, how will you be promoting your restaurant? Will marketing be handled in-house or outsourced?
Promotional events, social media, and paid ads are just some ways you can help get your restaurant off the ground, and investors will be very interested to hear what you have planned.
6. Organizational management
While you’ve touched on your organizational structure and management earlier on in your business plan, now you’ll explain your business structure and share a more comprehensive look at your team. An organizational chart can be helpful, as is a summary of your collective experience. Some people include a bullet list of the team’s top achievements that’s easy to scan and digest.
In addition to listing out co-founders, managers, servers, etc., you can attach resumes from your executive team or critical players like a well-known mixologist that’s helping you develop your cocktail program.
7. Financial projections
Finally, it’s time to address the financial side of your business, especially if you’re using your business plan to acquire startup funds or additional capital after you’re already operational.
If you’re pre-launch, your projections are just that: guesses. But these guesses should be based on market research, actual expenses, and projected income, culminating in a five-year look at everything from estimated revenue to capital expenditure budgets.
If your business is up and running, you’ll include actual financial records such as cash flow statements and your P&Ls, ideally for the last five years. Use colorful charts and graphs to highlight financial wins and make it easier for investors to gauge your company’s financial health quickly.
If you’re asking for funding, specify how those funds will be used and whether you have collateral you’re able to put up to secure a loan.
Strengthen business plan by strategizing how you’ll capture new customers through takeout and delivery
COVID-19 has drastically changed the hospitality industry, but many restaurants like Pig & Khoa and The Council Cafe have found ways to revamp their restaurant models to support not only on-premise dining but expanded delivery and takeout orders as well.
In 2020, some 1.2 billion people worldwide used online food ordering. In addition, surveys found that 68% of consumers are more likely to grab takeout from a restaurant now than pre-pandemic, and 53% say takeout and delivery play an essential role in their way of life.
Platforms like Grubhub Marketplace can make it easier than ever to capture the attention of new customers and reinvigorate relationships with existing customers by offering quick-click access to ordering and stress-free pickup or delivery.
Ready to reach millions of hungry customers? Sign up for Grubhub for Restaurants today!
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Business plans help restauranteurs find investors and launch a business the right way.
How to Write a Restaurant Business Plan to Impress Investors
Try these tips to write the best business plan to win over investors and launch your restaurant the right way
A restaurant business plan is the most important ingredient for when you open a new restaurant. A roadmap to success, the business plan will outline the opportunities and potential pitfalls your new restaurant will face. Without it, you are unlikely to receive financing from banks, investors, and other sources.
Why Write a Restaurant Business Plan in the First Place?
Unfortunately, so many restaurateurs skip the step of writing down their restaurant business plan, especially when opening their second or third location. Putting pen to paper is too daunting, and instead of thinking out possible scenarios for their new restaurant, they rush to open the doors as fast as possible and bring in new patrons. Here’s why that’s not a good idea:
1) When you don’t think through how you’re going to market your new restaurant, what your customer service policies are, or how the organization will be structured, this will create a lot of stress for you 2-3 months down the line as you develop new procedures. Rather than working “on” your restaurant, growing and expanding it, you’ll be working “in” your restaurant. With a restaurant business plan, you’ll have a blueprint with training, procedures, and analysis to succeed.
2) Without a restaurant business plan, you will have a hard time finding capital—be it from banks, venture capitalists, or even friends and family. Investors need to know that you have thought this business idea through and have the answers to potential problems you will face. Only then will wise investors consider funding your venture. Not only do you need to map out your business operations structure, but you also need to include data and analysis to show why your restaurant will be profitable in the long run.
Build a Better Restaurant Business Plan
Before you start writing your restaurant’s business plan, take a deep breath. Use mind mapping software to visualize your ideas, create an outline, and if possible, start with a business plan template to save time. When you’re ready to start, here are the essential components of a restaurant business plan:
The executive summary acts as both the introduction to and the summary of your entire idea for this new restaurant. This section should present a complete and concise summary designed to catch the reader's attention and entice him or her to explore the rest of the plan. An executive summary includes things like the mission statement, proposed concept, execution, overview of potential costs, and anticipated return on investment.
A clear, convincing, and catchy executive summary is crucial to securing investors. If from the first few paragraphs they don’t see potential in your business, their decision may already be made. Be sure to cite reasons for success and attractive numbers, but save the full explanation for the body of the business plan. Leave investors wanting to know more about your company by assuring them that reading about your restaurant is worth their time (and ultimately their money).
The company overview introduces information about the ownership and management structure, location, and business concept. Outline the vision for the customer's experience. Describe the brand. Identify the service style, design, layout, general theme, and unique aspects of the overall concept.
The industry analysis section should describe the existing market in the specific location or area in which you plan to open the new restaurant. This section could cover things like the growth of the local economy and restaurant industry, infrastructure projects, nearby business and residential areas, and average traffic counts in the area.
The competitive analysis section should explain the existing landscape of restaurants in the area, especially restaurants with similar concepts. Investors will want to understand what about your new restaurant will give it a competitive advantage. In this section, include a competitive matrix comparing your restaurant to others with pricing, hours, meal ideas, and seating.
The marketing plan explains your marketing strategy, including tactics, such as public relations, advertising, social media, loyalty programs, and more. It delves into how you will promote the restaurant before opening, and how you will build an engaged customer once the business is operational.
The business operation section should paint a picture of how the restaurant will operate day-to-day once it is operational. Outline exactly who your food vendors will be, how you will track sales and inventory including what point of sale you will use and why, as well as any other restaurant tools you will be using. Also outline your restaurant staffing plan (who will you hire first and why?), as well as your training plan (what checklists will certain managers have to follow every day?).
The financial analysis is often the final section of your restaurant business plan, and the meatiest. Investors expect to see a breakdown of how you plan to spend their investment in the first year. Include projected revenue, anticipated costs, projected profit and loss statement, and expected cash flow. You could even go as far as to create a break-even analysis, outlining how long it should take before you will break even on their investment.
Everything you lay out earlier in the plan is a prelude to this, and will mean nothing if this section doesn’t back up the claims of success you have made. Without a convincing financial forecast, you will lose a lot of faith from potential investors!
Start with a Restaurant Business Plan Template
A restaurant business plan template can save you time and money when starting your next restaurant. The template will act as a guideline when writing, giving tips and tricks to make sure your plan will wow someone into investing in your restaurant. Plus, you can edit the template directly, adding your specific restaurant’s name and specifications, without having to worry about design or layout.
Download your free restaurant business plan template and get started today.
Labor & Employees
How to Write a Restaurant Business Plan (with Samples)
Table of contents.
What Should a Restaurant Business Plan Include?
Sample restaurant business plans.
- Better Market Your Restaurant
If you’ve made the decision to start your own restaurant, congratulations! Running your own business is incredibly exciting, and can be rewarding as well. Yet having a great idea is just the first step in the process – you’ll need to put in a lot of work to make your dream a reality.
To start, you will need a concrete, detailed business plan. Not only will this plan serve as a blueprint for how you will run your restaurant, it is also necessary to secure funding. But, knowing that you need a solid restaurant business plan is different from actually writing one.
Below, we outline what you should cover in a business plan for your restaurant. This guide is meant to help you get started as you begin the process of opening up your own place. If you’re ready to move to the next level, reach out to Budget Branders for a quote on custom branded disposable products for your restaurant . Our custom printed disposables are the most cost-effective advertising your restaurant could invest in.
A business plan isn’t something that you should just slap together to check it off of your to-do list. A well-drafted business plan will demonstrate the viability of your concept to potential investors and show that you have done your homework.
A strong business plan should contain a number of components to ensure that it covers most or all of the questions that investors may have. It should also be professionally printed and bound, with a branded cover that includes your logo and/or slogan . The business plan should start with an executive summary, which should include a brief overview of what is contained in the entire document.
Read on to learn more about what should be contained in a restaurant business plan.
When you decided to open a restaurant, you probably did so on the basis of a great concept or idea. Your concept is what makes your restaurant unique – and what will bring customers in the door.
Spend some time fleshing out your concept, describing your inspiration, the type of food that you will be serving, and an overview of how your restaurant will be run. Make sure that you explain what makes your concept unique.
For example, after a health scare, you decided to focus on a more plant-based diet. You noticed that few restaurants in the area offer vegetarian or vegan options, and decided to open a restaurant that offers a fresh take on healthy, mostly vegetarian foods. In your restaurant plan, you can describe why you decided to go this route, what type of food you plan to serve, and how this concept sets you apart from other restaurants in the region.
The menu is one of the most important elements of any successful restaurant. After all, you can have the best concept and the most amazing location, but if your food is bland and uninspired, no one will want to patronize your establishment. For this reason, a sample menu is a critical component of a restaurant business plan.
The sample menu shouldn’t just be a list of what you plan to serve. Instead, you should mock up a menu that looks like it could be handed out to diners. It should also include prices for each option that are based on a detailed cost analysis. Including these prices will demonstrate to potential investors that you have done the necessary work to make your business successful.
An attractive, pleasing design is critical to the success of any restaurant. Studies show that we use all five senses when eating, so that things such as the color of tableware can affect how a person feels about a meal. Having a good design concept can also help to lure in customers who want to take pictures – and share them on social media.
As part of your business plan, be sure to include elements of your proposed design. Include swatches of color, pictures of your inspiration, and anything else that may be relevant. For example, if you plan to cook food in a wood-burning oven, sending delicious, smoky scents wafting throughout the restaurant, describe that element in your business plan. If you want to include a wall of plants to attract Instagram Influencers, be sure to include that information as well.
Although you may not have identified a specific location yet, it is important to include some details about where you plan to operate, as this will affect profitability. For example, if your goal is to provide to-go breakfast and lunch meals for workers, specify that you want to find a space near large office buildings or in a downtown area.
If you haven’t picked out a site for your restaurant, list the criteria that you will use to select a place. This may include information such as parking, square footage, availability of outdoor dining, accessibility to major highways, and foot traffic.
Before anyone can know that your restaurant is a good investment, they have to know about the market. This section should include both micro and macro economic factors that influence profitability – everything from COVID-19 restrictions (macro) to direct competitors in your area. Describe each of these in detail, and address how you plan to overcome any challenges or differentiate yourself from other restaurants.
In this section, you will describe who you think will eat at your restaurant. Will they be young or older? What is their average income? Talk in detail about who you think will patronize your restaurant – and why you think that your concept will appeal to them. For example, if you’re trying to appeal to a young crowd/ Gen Z , you may talk about how you plan to offer healthy choices, vegetarian options, and convenient delivery.
We have moved beyond the basic restaurant service options of fast food and fine dining. There are a lot of different types of restaurant services now, from take-out only to fast casual to pop-ups. If there is anything unique about your planned service style, it should be included as part of your business plan.
One of the most critical elements of a successful business is the people who are running it. If you want investors to take a chance on your restaurant concept, you will need to show that you have the experience necessary to turn a profit.
In this section of the business plan, introduce each member of the management team. Describe their work experience, both in the industry and in business generally. This will give potential investors a good idea of the likelihood of making money.
Before you open for business, you will need to establish some type of business structure – such as a partnership, an LLC, or even a corporation. Explain what business structure you have chosen and why you selected it.
Behind every successful business owner is a team of specialists. No matter how good you may be at running a restaurant, you can’t go it alone. You will likely need a team of consultants – such as a lawyer, accountant, general contractor, or marketing agency – to truly succeed.
Investors want to know that you understand your limitations, and have planned accordingly. Listing your outside consultants shows that you have considered all of the various aspects of running a business. Be sure to explain the services that they will provide, why you selected them, and how much they charge for their services.
The success of any business is dependent in part on branding and marketing. You can have the most delicious food at the best prices around, and if people don’t know about your restaurant, they won’t patronize it. In this section, describe what you plan to do to market your business – such as developing a website, retaining a marketing company, establishing social media accounts, and even using branded paper bags for your takeout items.
Finally, it is time to get down to the nitty-gritty. How much is this going to cost?
Most entrepreneurs will need the help of a financial professional to draft this section of the business plan. You will need to incorporate data points, such as labor cost percentages , average check amount, and how many meals you plan to serve each day, to determine whether your concept is financially viable.
An accountant can also help you make financial projections that should be included in your business plan. This may include a projected budget for capital, a break even analysis, and a pro forma profit and loss statement for the first 3 to 5 years of operation.
Feeling overwhelmed? This may seem like a lot, but each of these elements is necessary if you want a solid business plan that will attract investors. Fortunately, there are a number of sample restaurant business plans available online for you to review:
- Specialty restaurant and bakery business plans
- Basic restaurant business plan template
- Small restaurant business plan
- Pizza shop business plan
- Fast food business plan
- Steak house business plan
- Café business plan
- Traditional restaurant business plan
- Fast-casual restaurant business plan
These samples can help you get a good idea of what you should – and should not be – including in your business plan. If you are concerned about your ability to draft this type of document, consider reaching out for help. There are many writers and business professionals who have significant experience making business plans. Hiring one as a consultant can help make the process easier and less stressful for you.
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Restaurant Business Plan: What To Include, Plus 8 Examples
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Do you want to ensure the success of your new foodservice endeavor? Write a restaurant business plan.
In this article, the experts at Sling tell you why a business plan is vital for both new and existing businesses and give you tips on what to include.
Table Of Contents
What Is A Restaurant Business Plan?
Why is a restaurant business plan important, questions to ask first, what to include in an effective restaurant business plan, how to format a restaurant business plan, efficient workforce management is essential for success.
At its most basic, a restaurant business plan is a written document that describes your restaurant’s goals and the steps you will take to make those goals a reality.
This business plan also describes the nature of the business itself, financial projections, background information, and organizational strategies that govern the day-to-day activity of your restaurant.
A restaurant business plan is vital for the success of your endeavor because, without one, it is very difficult — sometimes even impossible — to obtain funding from an investor or a bank.
Without that all-important starting or operational capital, you may not be able to keep your doors open for long, if at all.
Even if funding isn’t a primary concern, a business plan provides you — the business owner or manager — with clear direction on how to translate general strategies into actionable plans for reaching your goals.
The plan can help solidify everything from the boots-on-the-ground functional strategy to the mid-level business strategy all the way up to the driving-force corporate strategy .
Think of this plan as a roadmap that guides your way when things are going smoothly and, more importantly, when they aren’t.
If you want to give your restaurant the best chance for success, start by writing a business plan.
Sitting down to write a restaurant business plan can be a daunting task.
As you’ll see in the What To Include In An Effective Restaurant Business Plan section below, you’ll need a lot of information and detail to ensure that the final document is both complete and effective.
Instead of starting with word one, it is hugely beneficial to answer a number of general questions first.
These questions will help you narrow down the information to include in your plan so the composition process feels less difficult.
The questions are:
- What problem does the business’s product or service solve?
- What niche will the business fill?
- What is the business’s solution to the problem?
- Who are the business’s customers?
- How will the business market and sell its products to them?
- What is the size of the market for this solution?
- What is the business model for the business?
- How will the business make money?
- Who are the competitors?
- How will the business maintain a competitive advantage?
- How does the business plan to manage growth?
- Who will run the business?
- What makes those individuals qualified to do so?
- What are the risks and threats confronting the business?
- What can you do to mitigate those risks and threats?
- What are the business’s capital and resource requirements?
- What are the business’s historical and projected financial statements?
Depending on your business, some of these questions may not apply or you may not have applicable answers.
Nevertheless, it helps to think about, and try to provide details for, the whole list so your finished restaurant business plan is as complete as possible.
Once you’ve answered the questions for your business, you can transfer a large portion of that information to the business plan itself.
We’ll discuss exactly what to include in the next section.
In this section, we’ll show you what to include in an effective restaurant business plan and provide a brief example of each component.
1) Executive Summary
You should always start any business plan with an executive summary. This gives the reader a brief introduction into common elements, such as:
- Mission statement
- Overhead costs
- Labor costs
- Return on investment (ROI)
This portion of your plan should pique the reader’s interest and make them want to read more.
Fanty & Mingo’s is a 50-seat fine-dining restaurant that will focus on Sweruvian (Swedish/Peruvian) fusion fare.
We will keep overhead and labor costs low thanks to simple but elegant decor , highly skilled food-prep staff, and well-trained servers.
Because of the location and surrounding booming economy, we estimate ROI at 20 percent per annum.
2) Mission Statement
A mission statement is a short description of what your business does for its customers, employees, and owners.
This is in contrast to your business’s vision statement which is a declaration of objectives that guide internal decision-making.
While the two are closely related and can be hard to distinguish, it often helps to think in terms of who, what, why, and where.
The vision statement is the where of your business — where you want your business to be and where you want your customers and community to be as a result.
The mission statement is the who , what , and why of your business — it’s an action plan that makes the vision statement a reality
Here’s an example of a mission statement for our fictional company:
Fanty and Mingo’s takes pride in making the best Sweruvian food, providing fast, friendly, and accurate service. It is our goal to be the employer of choice and offer team members opportunities for growth, advancement, and a rewarding career in a fun and safe working environment.
3) Company Description
In this section of your restaurant business plan, you fully introduce your company to the reader. Every business’s company description will be different and include its own pertinent information.
Useful details to include are:
- Owner’s details
- Brief description of their experience
- Legal standing
- Short-term goals
- Long-term goals
- Brief market study
- An understanding of the trends in your niche
- Why your business will succeed in these market conditions
Again, you don’t have to include all of this information in your company description. Choose the ones that are most relevant to your business and make the most sense to communicate to your readers.
Fanty & Mingo’s will start out as an LLC, owned and operated by founders Malcolm Reynolds and Zoe Washburne. Mr. Reynolds will serve as managing partner and Ms. Washburne as general manager.
We will combine atmosphere, friendly and knowledgeable staff, and menu variety to create a unique experience for our diners and to reach our goal of high value in the fusion food niche.
Our gross margin is higher than industry average, but we plan to spend more on payroll to attract the best team.
We estimate moderate growth for the first two years while word-of-mouth about our restaurant spreads through the area.
4) Market Analysis
A market analysis is a combination of three different views of the niche you want to enter:
- The industry as a whole
- The competition your restaurant will face
- The marketing you’ll execute to bring in customers
This section should be a brief introduction to these concepts. You can expand on them in other sections of your restaurant business plan.
The restaurant industry in our chosen location is wide open thanks in large part to the revitalization of the city’s center.
A few restaurants have already staked their claim there, but most are bars and non-family-friendly offerings.
Fanty & Mingo’s will focus on both tourist and local restaurant clientele. We want to bring in people that have a desire for delicious food and an exotic atmosphere.
We break down our market into five distinct categories:
- High-end singles
- Businessmen and businesswomen
We will target those markets to grow our restaurant by up to 17 percent per year.
Every restaurant needs a good menu, and this is the section within your restaurant business plan that you describe the food you’ll serve in as much detail as possible.
You may not have your menu design complete, but you’ll likely have at least a handful of dishes that serve as the foundation of your offerings.
It’s also essential to discuss pricing and how it reflects your overall goals and operating model. This will give potential investors and partners a better understanding of your business’s target price point and profit strategy.
We don’t have room to describe a sample menu in this article, but for more information on menu engineering, menu pricing, and even a menu template, check out these helpful articles from the Sling blog:
- Menu Engineering: What It Is And How It Can Increase Profits
- Restaurant Menu Pricing: 7 Tips To Maximize Profitability
- How To Design Your Menu | Free Restaurant Menu Template
In this section, describe your potential location (or locations) so that you and your investors have a clear image of what the restaurant will look like.
Include plenty of information about the location — square footage, floor plan , design , demographics of the area, parking, etc. — to make it feel as real as possible.
We will locate Fanty & Mingo’s in the booming and rapidly expanding downtown sector of Fort Wayne, Indiana.
Ideally, we will secure at least 2,000 square feet of space with a large, open-plan dining room and rich color scheme near the newly built baseball stadium to capitalize on the pre- and post-game traffic and to appeal to the young urban professionals that live in the area.
Parking will be available along side streets and in the 1,000-vehicle parking garage two blocks away.
The marketing section of your restaurant business plan is where you should elaborate on the information you introduced in the Market Analysis section.
Go into detail about the plans you have to introduce your restaurant to the public and keep it at the top of their mind.
Fanty & Mingo’s will employ three distinct marketing tactics to increase and maintain customer awareness:
- Word-of-mouth/in-restaurant marketing
- Partnering with other local businesses
- Media exposure
We will direct each tactic at a different segment of our potential clientele in order to maximize coverage.
In the process of marketing to our target audience, we will endeavor to harness the reach of direct mail and broadcast media, the exclusivity of the VIP party, and the elegance of a highly trained sommelier and wait staff.
Even though the Financials section is further down in your restaurant business plan, it is one of the most important components for securing investors and bank funding.
We recommend hiring a trained accountant to help you prepare this section so that it will be as accurate and informative as possible.
Fanty & Mingo’s needs $250,000 of capital investment over the next year and a half for the following:
- Renovations to leased space
- Dining room furniture
- Kitchen and food-prep equipment
- Liquor license
Projected profit and loss won’t jump drastically in the first year, but, over time, Fanty & Mingo’s will develop its reputation and client base. This will lead to more rapid growth toward the third and fourth years of business.
Most entrepreneurs starting a new business find it valuable to have multiple formats of their business plan.
The information, data, and details remain the same, but the length and how you present them will change to fit a specific set of circumstances.
Below we discuss the four most common business plan formats to cover a multitude of potential situations.
An elevator pitch is a short summary of your restaurant business plan’s executive summary.
Rather than being packed full of details, the elevator pitch is a quick teaser of sorts that you use on a short elevator ride (hence the name) to stimulate interest in potential customers, partners, and investors
As such, an effective elevator pitch is between 30 and 60 seconds and hits the high points of your restaurant business plan.
A pitch deck is a slide show and oral presentation that is designed to stimulate discussion and motivate interested parties to investigate deeper into your stakeholder plan (more on that below).
Most pitch decks are designed to cover the executive summary and include key graphs that illustrate market trends and benchmarks you used (and will use) to make decisions about your business.
Some entrepreneurs even include time and space in their pitch deck to demonstrate new products coming down the pipeline.
This won’t necessarily apply to a restaurant business plan, but, if logistics permit, you could distribute small samples of your current fare or tasting portions of new dishes you’re developing.
Stakeholder Plan (External)
A stakeholder plan is the standard written presentation that business owners use to describe the details of their business model to customers, partners, and potential investors.
The stakeholder plan can be as long as is necessary to communicate the current and future state of your business, but it must be well-written, well-formatted, and targeted at those looking at your business from the outside in.
Think of your stakeholder plan as a tool to convince others that they should get involved in making your business a reality. Write it in such a way that readers will want to partner with you to help your business grow.
Management Plan (Internal)
A management plan is a form of your restaurant business plan that describes the details that the owners and managers need to make the business run smoothly.
While the stakeholder plan is an external document, the management plan is an internal document.
Most of the details in the management plan will be of little or no interest to external stakeholders so you can write it with a higher degree of candor and informality.
After you’ve created your restaurant business plan, it’s time to take steps to make it a reality.
One of the biggest challenges in ensuring that your business runs smoothly and successfully is managing and optimizing your team. The Sling app can help.
Sling not only includes powerful and intuitive artificial-intelligence-based scheduling tools but also many other features to help make your workforce management more efficient, including:
- Time and attendance tracking
- Built-in time clock
- Labor cost optimization
- Data analysis and reporting
- Messaging and communication
- And much more…
With Sling, you can schedule faster, communicate better, and organize and manage your work from a single, integrated platform. And when you use Sling for all of your scheduling needs, you’ll have more time to focus on bringing your restaurant business plan to life.
For more free resources to help you manage your business better, organize and schedule your team, and track and calculate labor costs, visit GetSling.com today.
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How to Write a Restaurant Business Plan
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When starting a business—no matter what type of business that may be—a business plan is essential to map out your intentions and direction. That’s the same for a restaurant business plan, which will help you figure out where you fit in the landscape, how you’re going to differ from other establishments around you, how you’ll market your business, and even what you’re going to serve. A business plan for your restaurant can also help you later if you choose to apply for a business loan .
While opening a restaurant isn’t as risky as you’ve likely heard, you still want to ensure that you’re putting thought and research into your business venture to set it up for success. And that’s where a restaurant business plan comes in.
We’ll go through how to create a business plan for a restaurant and a few reasons why it’s so important. After you review the categories and the restaurant business plan examples, you can use the categories to make a restaurant business plan template and start your journey.
Why you shouldn’t skip a restaurant business plan
First-time restaurateurs and industry veterans alike all need to create a business plan when opening a new restaurant . That’s because, even if you deeply understand your business and its nuances (say, seasonal menu planning or how to order correct quantities), a restaurant is more than its operations. There’s marketing, financing, the competitive landscape, and more—and each of these things is unique to each door you open.
That’s why it’s so crucial to understand how to create a business plan for a restaurant. All of these things and more will be addressed in the document—which should run about 20 or 30 pages—so you’ll not only have a go-to-market strategy, but you’ll also likely figure out some things about your business that you haven’t even thought of yet.
Additionally, if you’re planning to apply for business funding down the line, some loans—including the highly desirable SBA loan —actually require you to submit your business plan to gain approval. In other words: Don’t skip this step!
How to write a restaurant business plan: Step by step
There’s no absolute format for a restaurant business plan that you can’t stray from—some of these sections might be more important than others, for example, or you might find that there’s a logical order that makes more sense than the one in the restaurant business plan example below. However, this business plan outline will serve as a good foundation, and you can use it as a restaurant business plan template for when you write your own.
Your executive summary is one to two pages that kick off your business plan and explain your vision. Even though this might seem like an introduction that no one will read, that isn’t the case. In fact, some investors only ask for the executive summary. So, you’ll want to spend a lot of time perfecting it.
Your restaurant business plan executive summary should include information on:
Mission statement: Your goals and objectives
General company information: Include your founding date, team roles (i.e. executive chef, sous chefs, sommeliers), and locations
Category and offerings: What category your restaurant fits into, what you’re planning to serve (i.e. farm-to-table or Korean), and why
Context for success: Any past success you’ve had, or any current financial data that’ll support that you are on the path to success
Financial requests: If you’re searching for investment or financing, include your plans and goals here and any financing you’ve raised or borrowed thus far
Future plans: Your vision for where you’re going in the next year, three years, and five years
When you’re done with your executive summary, you should feel like you’ve provided a bird’s eye view of your entire business plan. In fact, even though this section is first, you will likely write it last so you can take the highlights from each of the subsequent sections.
And once you’re done, read it on its own: Does it give a comprehensive, high-level overview of your restaurant, its current state, and your vision for the future? Remember, this may be the only part of your business plan potential investors or partners will read, so it should be able to stand on its own and be interesting enough to make them want to read the rest of your plan.
This is where you’ll dive into the specifics of your company, detailing the kind of restaurant you’re looking to create, who’s helping you do it, and how you’re prepared to accomplish it.
Your restaurant business plan company overview should include:
Purpose: The type of restaurant you’re opening (fine dining, fast-casual, pop-up, etc.), type of food you’re serving, goals you have, and the niche you hope to fill in the market
Area: Information on the area in which you’re opening
Customers: Whom you’re hoping to target, their demographic information
Legal structure: Your business entity (i.e. LLC, LLP, etc.) and how many owners you have
Similar to your executive summary, you won’t be going into major detail here as the sections below will get into the nitty-gritty. You’ll want to look at this as an extended tear sheet that gives someone a good grip on your restaurant or concept, where it fits into the market, and why you’re starting it.
Team and management
Barely anything is as important for a restaurant as the team that runs it. You’ll want to create a section dedicated to the members of your staff—even the ones that aren’t yet hired. This will provide a sense of who is taking care of what, and how you need to structure and build out the team to get your restaurant operating at full steam.
Your restaurant business plan team and management section should have:
Management overview: Who is running the restaurant, what their experience and qualifications are, and what duties they’ll be responsible for
Staff: Other employees you’ve brought on and their bios, as well as other spots you anticipate needing to hire for
Ownership percentage: Which individuals own what percentage of the restaurant, or if you are an employee-owned establishment
Be sure to update this section with more information as your business changes and you continue to share this business plan—especially because who is on your team will change both your business and the way people look at it.
You’ll also want to include a sample menu in your restaurant business plan so readers have a sense of what they can expect from your operations, as well as what your diners can expect from you when they sit down. This will also force you to consider exactly what you want to serve your diners and how your menu will stand out from similar restaurants in the area. Although a sample menu is in some ways self-explanatory, consider the following:
Service : If your brunch is as important as your dinner, provide both menus; you also might want to consider including both a-la-carte and prix fixe menus if you plan to offer them.
Beverage/wine service: If you’ll have an emphasis on specialty beverages or wine, a separate drinks list could be important.
Seasonality: If you’re a highly seasonal restaurant, you might want to consider providing menus for multiple seasons to demonstrate how your dishes (and subsequent purchasing) will change.
This is where you’ll begin to dive deeper. Although you’ve likely mentioned your market and the whitespace you hope to address, the market analysis section will enable you to prove your hypotheses.
Your restaurant business plan market analysis should include:
Industry information: Include a description of the restaurant industry, its size, growth trends, and other trends regarding things such as tastes, trends, demographics, structures, etc.
Target market: Zoom in on the area and neighborhood in which you’re opening your restaurant as well as the type of cuisine you’re serving.
Target market characteristics: Describe your customers and their needs, how/if their needs are currently being served, other important pieces about your specific location and customers.
Target market size and growth: Include a data-driven section on the size of your market, trends in its growth, how your target market fits into the industry as a whole, projected growth of your market, etc.
Market share potential: Share how much potential there is in the market, how much your presence will change the market, and how much your specific restaurant or restaurant locations can own of the open market; also touch on any barriers to growth or entry you might see.
Market pricing: Explain how you’ll be pricing your menu and where you’ll fall relative to your competitors or other restaurants in the market.
Competitive research: Include research on your closest competitors, how they are both succeeding and failing, how customers view them, etc.
If this section seems like it might be long, it should—it’s going to outline one of the most important parts of your strategy, and should feel comprehensive. Lack of demand is the number one reason why new businesses fail, so the goal of this section should be to prove that there is demand for your restaurant and show how you’ll capitalize on it.
Additionally, if market research isn’t your forte, don’t be shy to reach out to market research experts to help you compile the data, or at least read deeply on how to conduct effective research.
Marketing and sales
Your marketing and sales section should feel like a logical extension of your market analysis section, since all of the decisions you’ll make in this section should follow the data of the prior section.
The marketing and sales sections of your restaurant business plan should include:
Positioning: How you’ll describe your restaurant to potential customers, the brand identity and visuals you’ll use to do it, and how you’ll stand out in the market based on the brand you’re building
Promotion: The tools, tactics, and platforms you’ll use to market your business
Sales: How you’ll convert on certain items, and who/how you will facilitate any additional revenue streams (i.e. catering)
It’s likely that you’ll only have concepts for some of these elements, especially if you’re not yet open. Still, get to paper all of the ideas you have, and you can (and should) always update them later as your restaurant business becomes more fully formed.
The business operations section should get to the heart of how you plan to run your business. It will highlight both internal factors as well as external forces that will dictate how you run the ship.
The business operations section should include:
Management team: Your management structure and hierarchy, and who is responsible for what
Hours: Your hours and days of operation
Location: What’s special about your location that will get people through the door
Relationships: Any advantageous relationships you have with fellow restaurateurs, places for sourcing and buying, business organizations, or consultants on your team
Add here anything you think could be helpful for illustrating how you’re going to do business and what will affect it.
Here, you’ll detail the current state of your business finances and project where you hope to be in a year, three years, and five years. You’ll want to detail what you’ve spent, what you will spend, where you’ll get the money, costs you might incur, and returns you’ll hope to see—including when you can expect to break even and turn a profit.
Financial statements: If you’ve been in business for any amount of time, include existing financial statements (i.e. profit and loss, balance sheet, cash flow, etc.)
Budget: Your current budget or a general startup budget
Projections: Include revenue, cash flow, projected profit and loss, and other costs
Debt: Include liabilities if the business has any outstanding debt or loans
Funding request: If you’re requesting a loan or an investment, lay out how much capital you’re looking for, your company’s valuation (if applicable), and the purpose of the funding
Above all, as you’re putting your financials together, be realistic—even conservative. You want to give any potential investors a realistic picture of your business.
Feel like there are other important components but they don't quite fit in any of the other categories (or make them run too long)? That’s what the restaurant business plan appendix section is for. And although in, say, a book, an appendix can feel like an afterthought, don’t ignore it—this is another opportunity for you to include crucial information that can give anyone reading your plan some context. You may include additional data, graphs, marketing collateral (like logo mockups), and more.
The bottom line
Whether you’re writing a restaurant business plan for investors, lenders, or simply for yourself and your team, the most important thing to do is make sure your document is comprehensive. A good business plan for a restaurant will take time—and maybe a little sweat—to complete fully and correctly.
One other crucial thing to remember: a business plan is not a document set in stone. You should often look to it to make sure you’re keeping your vision and mission on track, but you should also feel prepared to update its components as you learn more about your business and individual restaurant.
This article originally appeared on JustBusiness, a subsidiary of NerdWallet.
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Writing a restaurant business plan.
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If you're considering opening a restaurant, your first step should be writing a business plan. A well-written business plan can help you raise money, manage your restaurant and succeed. Here's what you need to know about writing one:
An executive summary is a short but powerful document that can help you to get your point across quickly and effectively. Although it is usually the first section of a business plan, it should be the last piece written. It should be one page at maximum and clearly describe your business plan's critical points in a way that makes sense to anyone who reads it. The purpose of an executive summary is to convince potential investors or lenders that they will profit from investing in your restaurant idea, so avoid unimportant details or lengthy descriptions of how great your food tastes.
An excellent way to write an executive summary is by starting with an introduction paragraph that summarizes what the rest of your plan contains—this helps readers understand why they should continue reading further into the document. Then go into discussing why this particular project is worthwhile; why people need it. How will it benefit them? Next comes some background information about yourself: include any relevant experience or education related to running this business. Finally, end with future goals: where do you see yourself after opening the shop?
Here are some items to include in your restaurant business plan:
Concept Validation and Business Model Testing
Before you launch your business, it's important to validate your concept and test the viability of your business model. You can do this by conducting market research, talking with potential customers, and interviewing industry experts with similar business experiences. You can also test the viability of your plan by completing an "experience economy" analysis. That is, looking at ways people enjoy spending money on experiences rather than goods (such as dining out). For example, if people value experiences over material goods, opening a restaurant may be a good idea!
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Labor costs, including direct and indirect labor, are essential to your labor budget. Direct costs refer to wages paid directly to employees, while indirect expenses include benefits like healthcare coverage and payroll taxes. To calculate these figures, you'll need to estimate the number of full-time equivalents (FTE) positions you'll need and their average salaries. This calculation can be tricky because each restaurant has its unique staffing plan based on its size, location, cuisine type, and reputation among customers, not to mention any other factors that might affect staffing decisions (e.g., whether it's open 24/7).
The first step is deciding whether or not you want full-time staff or part-time workers who work only during peak times such as lunchtime rush hour or Friday night dinners out with friends at restaurants nearby yours. As tempting as it may seem, wait to write anything down until after reading through the following sections because several factors are explicitly related to determining how many people we'll need overall.
You want your menu to be focused and simple. Try to add only a few items, as too many menu items may confuse customers, making it difficult for them to choose what they want.
If there are any "signature" items on your menu, include them first when listing off your offerings so that people know what kind of food you serve before even stepping inside the restaurant. Also, incorporating local ingredients into these specialties will help build community spirit around supporting local businesses.
Site selection is a critical factor in your success. After conducting a comprehensive market study, the site selection is based on the data you discover to determine if your customers are in and frequent that area. David Simmonds, Founder and CEO of ResolutRE , a Commercial Real Estate firm in Austin, Texas, states: "More than ever, entrepreneurs opening a restaurant need to analyze what their own customers look like on paper (demographics, psychographics, etc.), so then when they are examining a market, they can find the highest concentration of their customers within that market. From that data, they are able to determine the number of restaurants that the market could support, and from there, create the blueprint for their expansion."
Your plan should describe your ideal location . Your chosen location must be close to your target market and similar businesses, such as restaurants or cafes. The site should also have high foot traffic and be accessible by car, bike, and public transportation. Simmonds goes on to say: "Analytics reinforces or disputes instincts. It is a necessary part of the expansion process, whether the restauranteur has 1 unit or 37.
When developing your business plan, think about the marketing strategy you will use. Your plan should consider and explain the following marketing tactics:
- Advertising: You can use print or online ads on social media sites like Facebook and Instagram. Also, consider running commercials on local television stations.
- Public relations: This can include writing articles about your restaurant in local newspapers or magazines, hosting events at your restaurant (such as wine tastings), speaking at community events like Chamber of Commerce meetings with other business owners in the area, participating in charity events related to foodservice industries like Feeding America—the possibilities are endless! The idea is to get people talking about what makes YOU unique so they think of YOU first when ready for their next dine-out experience!
- Social media: Let's face it—most millennials don't even pick up the phone anymore; they prefer texting over talking face-to-face because it feels intimate somehow, and guess what? By interacting directly with customers through social media platforms like Facebook Messenger or WhatsApp (which allows users from all over the world access 24 hours per day, seven days per week), we can offer immediate customer service support during high-demand times such as weekend brunch hours without having employees sitting idle during slow periods throughout weekdays when traffic drops off significantly due the lack of demand generated elsewhere.
Profit and Return on Investment Analysis
- Profit is the difference between your sales revenue and your costs. To calculate it, you need to know the following:
- Sales revenue (how much money you expect to make from selling food)
- Cost of goods sold (the cost of ingredients and supplies)
- Other operating expenses (including labor, rent, and utilities)
The reader of your business plan should be able to find these numbers in your budgeting worksheet and financial projections spreadsheet.
The financial plan is the most critical part of your business plan. It should clearly show how much money you need to start, run and grow your restaurant.
You will need to show a projected profit and loss statement. The projected profit and loss statement (P&L) shows how much revenue comes in, what expenses are incurred, and what profits are made over time. In addition, the P&L shows all revenue sources, including but not limited to sales of food/alcoholic beverages and income from private parties. It must also project all costs associated with operating the restaurant, such as Cost of Goods (raw materials) and salaries for employees - these include both front-of-house roles such as waiters or bartenders, as well as back-of-house roles like chefs who prepare food during off hours so it can be served fresh upon opening each day - cleaning supplies needed throughout each week, etc., depreciation costs associated with long term assets such as ovens that wear down over time and waste of unused food product.
Multi-Year Projections of Revenue and Costs
Accurate projections are the key to a successful business plan. They help you to understand how much money you will make and how much you will need to make it happen. Projections also help with understanding what your costs will be.
For example, if I were starting a restaurant today and wanted my business plan projections for opening day and going out one, three, and five years.
Then I would look at similar restaurants that serve similar foods, noting their prices, portion sizes, and any specialties they offer, such as breakfast all day or lunch specials every Friday during football season. This research of other restaurants will give you a basis for your projections. Include the documentation of this research in the narrative of the plan.
A Business Plan Is Your Road Map To Success.
A business plan can help you raise money by demonstrating that you have a viable idea for a restaurant. In addition, investors want to see that others are interested in investing in your vision, so they'll be more likely to give you money if they see other investors involved with it as well. An excellent example is when an investor wants to invest but only if another investor does first; this way, both parties feel comfortable investing because they know someone else believes in the project enough to put their own money into it too!
A well-written business plan helps manage restaurants by giving owners information about how much money will be coming in over time, so there aren't any surprises when bills come due every month - which could lead businesses into trouble if left unchecked."
This article has given some insights into how to write a business plan for opening a restaurant. Do your research and learn other aspects of good business plan writing. I know that it can be a lot of work, but I also know that the payoff is worth it. Not only will you have a better understanding of what it takes to open up shop and run it successfully but also potential investors will be more likely to fund your project if they see that you've done your research. And remember: don't be afraid to ask other restaurant owners for help or advice; many of them have been where you are now.
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