You’ve just opened your brand new restaurant; perhaps it’s your very first, maybe you’ve expanded to a second site, or maybe you’re adding another to your empire. Regardless, don’t go popping the celebratory champagne cork just yet (well maybe just one), there’s still a lot of work left to do.
No matter how many times you’ve done it; opening a new site is a significant milestone. And all of that design, construction, staging and procurement will no doubt have been a massive project. But guess what, that was the easy part! The hard part is bedding it down and turning that beautiful fit out into a profitable, high performing business.
It’s a year after opening, when the business is humming, that you should really be celebrating. It’s at this point that you’ve busted your ass to make sure everything works, proven the concept, and ironed out all the kinks.
All too often though, this valuable bedding-down process is overlooked. Operators simply open the doors, hope for the best and get on with business as planned.
Unfortunately, things usually don’t go quite as planned. And that’s fine; but, it’s our ability to be aware of, and adapt to changes after we open, that will best ensure our businesses survive that critical first year.
Here’s a list of my top six things to be aware of during your bedding-down phase. And by clicking on the link below; you can download my free pre-opening checklist to make sure you’re as ready as possible for your next opening.
Close The Gap Between Theory And Reality
Everything leading up to opening; all your planning, all your costings, policies and procedures; were all just theory.
After you open, that theory becomes reality, and there will inevitably be a gap between this theory and reality.
It’s for this reason it’s critical to really monitor every aspect of your business. By doing so, you can identify these gaps between what you planned and what is actually happening, and work out how to close them.
Identifying and closing these gaps quickly will shore up your business; but also make sure you are maximising your profitability sooner rather than later.
Don’t Be Afraid To Change Course Quickly
Customers often behave in ways we don’t expect. What we thought was a great plan before we opened may not work out after opening; so don’t be afraid to make big changes if you have to.
I’ve seen plenty of really experienced operators completely re-engineer their offering after opening. And conversely, I’ve seen plenty of people persist with the wrong offering long after it’s become apparent that it’s not working.
Good Things Take Time
You need to give new initiatives time to take root. -Wait, what? . .didn’t I just say you need to be bold about changing things that aren’t working?
While seemingly at odds with each other, both these statements are correct. Let me explain. . . .
You’ll know in your heart of hearts if something isn’t working. Your instinct and experience, feedback from you staff and employees, or your reporting will tip you off, and it’s these things that require a quick fix.
It’s the tweaks and remedies that you put in place that you really need to allow time to test. Sometimes it takes a while for the market to respond to a change, so I normally recommend that you give things a good three months. If it’s not working after that time, get rid of it and try something else.
Opening Staff Are The Best Staff
Those staff that are with you at the very beginning get in on the ground floor. They are witness to all your pre-opening chaos and they help troubleshoot after opening. Having been on this journey they usually feel a sense of ownership and loyalty that simply can’t be replicated.
Not only this, but they help shape the culture, pace and direction for future hires.
Make sure you identify these future stars early, nurture them, and do your best to retain them for as long as you can.
Take Advantage Of Being The New Kid
A new opening is new news. There’s a bit of a ‘cool factor’ associated with a new opening, and new openings are highly marketable to both your target market and topical with the media.
Make sure you leverage this by creating as much hype as early on as possible to ensure your message is amplified. –Once the next new opening comes along, you’ll loose one of your points of difference, and making a splash will be a little bit harder.
Review, Review and Review Again
Chances are the hype of your new opening will bring a lot of business your way. This is great, but it comes at a time when your business is still trying to find its feet. -When systems are being established and staff are building efficiencies.
This is a really great way to pressure-test your systems, but it’s really important that you use this time to keep on reviewing and tweaking everything.
Make the time and commit to sitting down with your staff after service, even if just for 10 minutes, to talk about what was working and what wasn’t working that day. Make adjustments wherever you can and then review these changes the following day.
This little bit of discipline will massively accelerate your efficiency gains.
In Summary . . .
The foundations of a successful and profitable hospitality business are as much based on the way you bed it down, as it is in the design, fit out and planning.
It’s super important that you use the time after you first open your doors to review daily, tweak and adjust quickly, nurture and develop your best staff and leverage the marketing opportunities associated with being a new eatery.
To make sure you open in the strongest possible position, download my pre-opening checklist by clicking on the link below. This guide will prompt you to consider and plan every single detail of your business; hopefully minimizing the surprises post opening.