Restaurant Business Plan Mistakes to Avoid

You have an amazing idea for a restaurant, have done some homework on putting together a business plan, and think you have it all worked out. However, there is most likely room for improvement. Too often, online research points out a vague guideline of what to include in a restaurant business plan when it's actually the nitty-gritty details that lead to success. Here are some common business plan mistakes to avoid.

You Don't Think You Need One

There are plenty of restaurateurs that have saved up, downsized, or borrowed money to make their restaurant happen. However, these restaurants often become part of the dark cloud that is the restaurant failure statistic. Sure, they offered good food and their part-time catering gig was amazing, but investing in a restaurant with anyone's money and not having a solid business plan is irresponsible. Follow a step-by-step planning template to make sure you cover all your bases.

You Don't Know What You Want

Losing sight of your original idea while you assemble a business plan is a common error. Things start to get muddled when descriptions are written and several sets of eyes give it a read. People may offer suggestions that sound great, but they may also water down your concept along the way. Stay true to your original idea and make sure that all parts of your restaurant business plan converge upon the same eventual goal.

You Forget about Details

A mistake to avoid when putting together a restaurant business plan is to gloss over specifics, leaving important matters like decor and operating hours vague. These details are extremely important when creating your business plan. Get specific with the types of furniture, colors, and not-so-small details that guests are going to interact with. The more thought and research that goes into these details in the beginning will set you (and your investor) up for success. Leaving specifics out, or simply not describing them well suggests that the entire restaurant business plan has not been fleshed out. Operating hours, signage, and capacity are all details that have the potential to propel your investment and hard work into the future.

You Dismiss the Customer Experience

Forgetting to explain your intended customer experience can cause investors to shy away from helping you succeed, or worse, cause you to miss the chance at success. What will guests hear and see when they enter your restaurant, or before they enter? Consider the color of the walls and the psychology behind it. Will the decor lend itself to engage customers without being too costly in the long run? You should consider every aspect of the guest experience and include how user-friendly the establishment is within your restaurant business plan. A customer line forming in the wrong spot, an awkward placement of tables near a restroom or drafty doorway, or a loud kitchen noise can send a guest out the door with nothing but negative things to say—even if the food was fantastic.

You Could Make Your Restaurant More Efficient

Forgetting your master plan or keeping it vague is not the best way to go. Oftentimes, new restaurateurs secure a loan, buy equipment when they find a deal, and then attempt to retrofit the kitchen. Be confident in what equipment you want and know why you need it. Are you prepared to use that combi oven to its full potential? How? Know these answers and briefly explain them in the plan. The design of the kitchen and consideration of the flow is also a crucial part of success from a variety of standpoints, ranging from food safety to the speed of service.

You Don't Proofread

Any form of typographical error, misspelling, or lack of focus in your business plan can leave investors wondering, "What other details will this person miss?" Don't make those errors. Use any resources you can to create a thorough business plan, and have multiple people of different backgrounds read and reread your work. Your plan needs to be as professional and focused as possible, and if you need a consultant to write it for you, hire one. In the end, it will be worth your while.

When writing a business plan for a new restaurant, make sure to follow these tips and avoid mistakes that previous entrepreneurs have made. Before you know it, you'll be one more step in the right direction toward restaurant ownership.