restaurant business plan


Five Basics of Finding a Great Restaurant Business Location

Finding a good location for your restaurant is vitally important to its chances for success. It is a rare restaurant that can overcome a poor location, and many only average restaurant businesses have survived simply because they were will situated.

Make sure your potential restaurant location passes muster in these five areas, or else keep looking for the perfect spot because settling is definitely not an option in this business.

Traffic

If you locate your restaurant in a place where there isnít enough traffic to survive, your have doomed yourself before youíve even begun. Sure, the rent may be cheap, but there is a reason. Carefully investigate both the foot traffic and the vehicle traffic surrounding your location and make sure there is enough to build a good customer base.

A good sign is other businesses in the area with a healthy crowd, and particularly other restaurants. If you are in an industrial section or hard to reach, or just away from the general flow of people, you will have a tough time making your restaurant succeed. Even being one block away from the action can often mean the difference between a full house and empty tables.

Parking

Having a busy location with no place to park is almost as bad as being in a dead zone. Unless you are basing all your business around foot traffic, and that usually only works in a mall or pedestrian zone, you need adequate parking. If you donít have it, you might institute a valet service, or offer free parking validation at the closet paid parking site. Unless you resolve the issue, however, you arenít going to get customers in if there is nowhere for them to put their cars.

Access

Make sure people can easily pull into your parking lot, and easily get into your building. As crazy as it sounds, some restaurants make this too hard and people move on to somewhere more hospitable. This can be because a driveway is only reachable from the ďwrongĒ side of the street, or there is fast moving traffic in the turnoff lane, or the sign is hard to see until the last minute. You also donít want the door to your restaurant on a side street, or hidden behind something else. Make very effort to find a location that is welcoming to cars and people.

Demographics

Find out who lives in a radius around your potential location, and make sure they are the customers you want. If you are trying to offer upscale food, donít locate yourself in the chicken wings and beer neighborhood. You can usually tell where you are by the kinds of businesses already there, but get some research from the local city or county agency on the demographics of the area to back up your instincts.

Lease

No matter what else the site may have going for it, if you canít get a reasonable lease, you have to move on. Way too expensive leases are the cause of more restaurant demises than anything else. The landlords will try to get the most they can from you, but if you have solid projections you will know exactly how much you can afford to pay and how much is too much. Generally you want to pay around 5% of your total sales in lease, and definitely not more than 10%. If you are paying more than that you are going to find it very hard to make a profit, and often hard to even stay in business. Negotiate for a lower lease, and if you canít make the numbers work realistically, then keep moving.

If you follow these tips, you should have no problems with the location you ultimately select.

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