4 Quick Tips: Have a Plan and then some

At Accurate we regularly meet people that are looking for a change in career or want to take their current career and go out on their own. Being your own boss and starting a new business can be exciting and profitable. That being said, you might be surprised that the vast majority of people that come to see us, have nothing with them. No list of equipment, no menu, no plan. When I think of the customers we have had, that really took off and have been very successful, they are the ones that came in with a plan and a vision. In an attempt to help out those interested, we have put together a small list below to help with some of the planning and help you start off on the right path. 

1) Have a menu: It seems simple, but this is key. Coming to look at equipment or going to look at locations is pointless if you don't have a clear idea of what you will be selling. Also keep your menu simple. Most of our successful clients have a very simple and focused menu. They don't try to cover 20 different types of food. We see some try and offer way to many items. Trying to sell pizza, wings, sandwiches, fish & chips, philly cheese steak and shawarma all in one restaurant usually means one thing; none of them are good, because you can't focus on any of them. You basically specialize in nothing. Clients that have a more simple menu with a focus on their specialty tend to do far better and have a more loyal clientele.

2) Costing: You need to have an idea of what your food is going to cost you, and what you are going to sell it for. It sounds easy, but unless you factor in what all your costs are, you won't know if you are making or losing money. How much is your rent, how much will your employees cost you, how much is gas, electricity, and your packaging. It all counts. We have clients come in and simply say "I'm going to be the cheapest", great plan, if you can make money doing that, but why not focus on being the best instead. Here is a handy PDF book from UBC's food management course that has a great section on food costing. Don't worry the PDF is free and you may find some of the other sections useful as well. COSTING PDF

3) Image: One of the biggest surprises to me over the years, is how much of a difference your image makes. We can take the same staff, same food, same everything and open 2 places. One is simple with people working in street clothes with aprons, walls are painted in what ever color was on sale at the paint store, and the sign is home-made with some letter stickers picked up from office depot, and the packaging is blank paper bags, you get the idea. The other, colors are set and standardized, matching uniforms, sign has a logo and unique design, bags and packaging also follow the design and colors. Remember, everything to do with the service and food are the same. The one with the design and branded look will do far better than the other. People have more confidence and faith in a place that looks more established and professional. You don't need to spend thousands of dollars to make this happen. Here are some places that can help you get there.

  • 99Designs - Get a logo made for you, colors, even have someone do your website to match, great place to get logos and designs for a fair price
  • Fiver - Very similar to 99Designs
  • Stichy Lizard - This has been our go-to for getting printed designs on shirts, hats, aprons, pretty much anything you want can have your logo and design on it.

4) Website & Social media: Let's face it, this is a must. I don't care if you don't like social media in your personal life, or if you don't know how to do it. Find someone who does and get it done. The website does not have to be some super duper site with lots of bells and whistles. A single page site with your address, some pictures of your food, location and your menu is all that is needed. I can't tell you how many times we have thought of trying something new for lunch here, look a place up and can't even see what the menu is. Know what we do? We move on to something else. That's lost sales. Facebook and Instagram can be huge as well. Post them in your store and ask your customers to follow you. Post deals, new menu items, special events, even just a morning greeting. It all helps to keep you in their mind. This last one is huge; respond to reviews and comments. I don't care if it is the worst review ever. Reply to it in a courteous and professional manner. Getting in to calling your customer names or being overly defensive or aggressive, just looks bad, both on you as a person and your business. 

We hope these simple tips can help you make a great start in running your own restaurant, cafe or whatever your venture is. Having a good plan, and idea of what you want, can be a huge benefit. Remember, we are always here to answer your questions and always happy to help. Contact us or stop in to see us anytime.