It might seem like a distant dream to own your own restaurant, but the reality is, starting your own business in the food industry is closer than it may appear. Even if you don’t think you’re qualified or ready to run a fancy dining establishment, a more casual or fast-food-oriented restaurant may be the option that suits you best.
Starting your very own fast food restaurant is surprisingly easier than many people might think. Additionally, you have options when opening one. You don’t need to open something from the ground up in some cases, you can inherit a business, so to speak, which takes off a lot of the stress on your need to figure out the business planning.
If this sounds like something you’re looking into or are already in the stages of determining how to open a fast-food restaurant, you want to know what it will take and what questions you should be asking yourself. Here are 6 things that anyone should consider before they open their own fast food restaurant.
1. Do You Want to Open an Independent Chain or Franchise One?
Inheriting a restaurant isn’t like getting handed the keys to a car and it’s yours, it’s usually done by franchising. Franchises, like Subway or McDonald’s, are owned by the larger corporation, but the locations can be bought from other franchisees. This is a good way to own a fast-food restaurant that’s already established and set up for you. The other option is to do it all yourself so that the restaurant isn’t someone else idea or design, it’s yours. Ask yourself whether you want full control, including any obstacles along the way, or if you want to buy into an almost guaranteed money-making situation, which requires a bigger initial investment.
2. How Are You Going to Design Your Restaurant?
You’ll next need to consider how you want to design and decorate the restaurant. The look of a restaurant will impact the feel, and this could impact the psychology of getting customers to buy more food. A simple thing to consider is fast food seating units, which is a cost-effective solution to get out of the way early. You’ll also need to consult with an interior designer and figure out color schemes, tiling/floor material, aesthetic ideas, and of course, the kitchen. The kitchen is where you will be spending a lot of your time and money trying to figure out what you’ll need for your restaurant to be fully operational, so deep fryers, flat-tops, stoves, ovens, walk-in freezers, all of those will be appliances to consider when decorating and designing the entire place.
3. What is Your Menu or Food Going to Be Focused On?
This is an incredibly important decision to make. You want to pick a focus area for what you are going to be serving customers. If you pick too many menu items, people won’t know what kind of fast-food restaurant you are, but if you only focus on a select few, it might be too specialized for people to want all the time. You need a good range of diversity but not going too far. The most common options are Mexican, Chinese, burgers, chicken, and pizza for menus. These represent the most viable options, but you aren’t limited to them. There are also plenty of Greek-inspired fast-food restaurants, same with Korean food, but it’s good to know that you have the appliances you’ll need (pizza ovens, deep fryers, etc.), and not to overextend or oversimplify your menu creation.
Location is everything for a restaurant. Put it too close to all of the other chains, you get embroiled in competition to pull in customers, but if you put it too far away and no one wants to venture that far to visit. It’s hard to find a good spot to prop up your restaurant so many first-time restaurant owners will hire restaurant consultants. As you can expect, their job is to help you make some business decisions on the matter. Residential areas can be tricky depending on zoning laws, but it’s also an area with high traffic, which is good for a fast-food restaurant if you have a drive-thru. A lot of restaurant owners prefer closer to urban or more foot-traffic and densely populated areas. Consider the demographics of your area (age, income, etc.) and consider how the competition fares given their location to make an informed decision.
5. Are You Financially Capable of Opening a Business?
If you did end up deciding you wanted to buy a franchise, you’re looking at anywhere from $100 000 to upwards of $2 500 000 for a new franchise of some of the most well-known fast-food brands. It’s a lot of money to put down, but when you consider that they’re almost guaranteed to make money it’s understandable. Still, it’s a lot, and you may want to do your own thing which is equally as valid. Consider how much liquid finances you have available, any assets you own, and how much you may need in business loans. The finances of a business are the hardest thing to manage for most, so you want to be sure you have enough for renovations or building, operating budget, marketing, payroll, permits, and licenses.
Finally, you need to take a good long look at your goals and plans. If your strategy is simple, “open up a great fast-food restaurant that serves quality Mexican food” you won’t last that long. It’s harsh, but you need a better roadmap and concrete points to check off. Long-term expansion goals, an estimated customers served daily/weekly/monthly/annually outlook, or solutions to compete with larger franchises are all quick examples of how you should be thinking. Before investing a single dollar, you need to have a comprehensive strategy for your restaurant to be successful.
Opening your own fast-food restaurant isn’t as crazy as it sounds. Yes, there are certainly the existing heavy hitters in the industry, but it’s more attainable than you might think. Use some of these 6 considerations to see if you’re ready to open one and ask yourself questions you might not have considered.