Most restaurants fail within the first few years, mostly because their owners didn't think the business through before opening their doors. If you want to operate a successful restaurant, it is important that you make plans and execute them according to copious research on your market, location and service.
Choose your location carefully. You'll want to place your restaurant in a highly populated area, with easy access from nearby streets. It is also a good idea to choose an area with profitable neighboring businesses, which will help drive traffic through your doors.
Hire wait staff with exceptional references and at least two years of experience. Your waiters and hosts will make or break your restaurant, so make sure they have excellent customer services skills, and don't forget to train them thoroughly before they are allowed on the floor.
Advertise your restaurant in the local paper and on the Internet. Lots of people enjoy trying new places to eat every week, so make sure the residents of the surrounding area know you exist, and what type of food you serve.
Brand your restaurant immediately. The culture of a business is absolutely essential to its success. Is your establishment more suited to the after-work crowd, a large family, or first dates? What are your signature dishes, and how do they represent your overall atmosphere? This is one of the most effective ways to operate a successful restaurant.
Address customer complaints as soon as they arise. Negative publicity travels fast, you don't want to give people any reason to tell their friends how much they hated your restaurant. For just such an occasion, print up certificates for free "We Were Wrong" meals.
Invite customer feedback by leaving comment cards on the tables, or simply by asking about their experience as they walk through the door. This is a great way to gauge how different aspects of your restaurant are received, and to include customers in making your restaurant successful.
Evaluate your menu periodically. Decide which dishes are popular, and which are rarely ordered, so you can get rid of the dishes that don't perform to make room for new recipes. Changes to your menu should only be undertaken every six months or so, but constantly evaluate the performance.
Reward your waiters and waitresses for great customer service. A happy staff will serve happy customers, which makes your restaurant successful. You might even inspire a bit of competition for Employee of the Month.
Oversee the daily operation of your restaurant rather than sitting on the bench. Give your restaurant time to prosper before calling it quits. Make changes as soon as you realize that one technique or method isn't working.