The food business is one of the most common types of vocations out there. There are so many different restaurants, bars, and cafes. Go into any city, and you will see all kinds of food trucks, food stands, and catering places everywhere.
Food can literally become a gold mine.
But the only question is how?
How do successful restaurants do it? And how can you do it for yourself? The reasons for success in the food industry are many.
There is no big secret to seeing profits. What makes a restaurant or cafe successful comes down to a few key points. To make your food business successful, you must follow those points.
This article will explain what those points are and how you can use them to turn your food business into a profitable success.
Think of Food Business Ideas
The first thing you must-do, if you haven’t already, is to decide on an idea. There are many kinds of food businesses.
You must choose one that suits you.
Here are some of the most common food business ideas:
- Family Restaurant
- Fast Food Restaurant
- Food Truck
- Food Cart
- Ice Cream Store
The ideal plan that most people have is to start a restaurant or cafe. But the hard part about that is getting the funds. Opening a restaurant is not cheap.
However, not everyone has to start big in the food business.
For example, it’s possible to open a hot dog cart with as little as $2,000.
A lot of immigrants in cities like NYC and Chicago have hot dog carts. Most of them save their money and eventually end up investing in a restaurant or coffee shop. Starting small is a good option for anyone who doesn’t have the money to go big
Try a smaller business idea at first. Then move on to something larger once you’ve saved enough money. The food business can work like a snowball and grow as you have more cash.
Create a Business Plan
The next step is to create a business plan.
The business plan is a vital part of the process. Unfortunately, many entrepreneurs end up skipping this step.
Your business plan should ideally be in writing.
Furthermore, pick a business plan format that works for you. You could write a lean startup plan, which is only about a page. Or you could write a traditional business plan. The lean startup plan focuses more on summarizing the business idea.
However, a traditional business plan is much more detailed. It’s a good idea to write a traditional business plan when opening larger businesses like restaurants or cafes.
The lean startup plan can work better for something like a food stand or truck.
Likewise, the business plan is an opportunity to begin doing some market research. Write down what it is your competitors are doing. Ask questions like, why are they successful?
How do they do it?
And are you capable of doing the same thing?
The business plan is the time to figure this all out.
Lastly, the business plan is a chance to get any financing you may need. Again, this is more for larger businesses like restaurants.
For instance, you could get a loan from a bank or private lender. The bank or lender may ask for a business plan in return.
Pick a Great Location
In the food business, location is everything.
Whether you have a restaurant, coffee shop, or hot dog stand, the location is crucial. You can’t expect to make money in a spot that has no people.
Likewise, it’s harder to make money in a location with many people but with lower incomes. That’s where your research skills must come into play. Begin by researching the neighborhood you’re considering doing business in.
Again, ask questions like, do the residents have high incomes?
Is it a busy area known for high foot traffic?
Is it off a busy highway?
All of these questions are going to make or break your business.
Balancesmb.com has an article talking about the importance of location for a food business. They break it down to parking, accessibility, visibility, and population base.
Breaking it down into those four groups is a great way to start thinking about a location. People must park to eat at your place. They also have to see your store and get there effortlessly.
Location matters a lot, so don’t hesitate to think about it.
Invest in Your Staff
The staff is where your business can really shine or fail.
Some restaurants are known for having rude staff.
You don’t want to be one of those restaurants.
Take the time to attract and train the right people. Offer employees a good work environment and something other than a salary. Treating employees well is how Starbucks became so successful with its recruiting.
They even offer to pay for student loans, provide stock options and healthcare. But you don’t need to go that far. Offering medical insurance or some other benefit will work fine.
The point is that you care enough to invest in your employees.
Similarly, if you’re the only employee, the same concept applies.
Train yourself and learn how to talk to customers. You need to master customer service and be as polite as possible. Customers like seeing small business owners working in hot dog carts and coffee shops to smile.
Having good hospitality is a big plus.
Consider learning the names of your customers and become friends with them. Building those relationships is a great way to start getting regulars into your business.
Learn How to Use Social Media
Social media has turned the food business upside down.
There are so many ways of marketing your business today. Social media changed marketing forever and made it much easier to get your name out there.
Yet, it depends on how good you are at using it.
Not being active on social media can actually do you more harm than good. In 2021, businesses and people don’t exist unless they have an online presence. That’s why it’s so crucial to make your name and brand stand out.
Instagram is one of the best platforms to use for a food business. Take pictures of your employees and customers. You can use events and holidays to promote your business with hashtags.
Likewise, it’s also a good idea to take quality pictures of your food.
Photographs of mouth-watering food can get people into your establishment faster than you think. But it all comes down to how you execute your marketing. Remember to take pictures of the right food at the right time.
For example, people love seeing pumpkin pancakes in October. That’s a perfect chance for you to take pictures and put those pancakes on Instagram.
Furthermore, Tik Tok is another popular platform. The app has millions of new users.
It’s a perfect opportunity to get your brand out there to people. The app works better with short videos rather than pictures. But if you know how to use it, Tik Tok can even be superior to Instagram.
Focus on The Customer
There are too many cases in the food business of owners not focusing enough on their customers.
Instead, their attention seems to be more on the competition.
As a food entrepreneur, your focus should be entirely on your customers.
Jeff Bezos, the CEO of Amazon, famously gave his thoughts about customer support once in an interview. Bezos explained that the key to Amazon’s success is its focus on the customer. He also explained that Amazon really doesn’t care about competition.
That strategy seems to have worked well for him so far.
Bezos also talks about competition as being a trap for tech companies. However, the reality is that it’s a big trap for any business, especially the food industry.
Restaurants and food carts operate close to each other physically.
That can cause business owners to get a little too curious about what their competition is up to. Eventually, their curiosity can lead to a lack of attention to their customers.
Avoid doing that by forgetting about competition completely. Focus only on making your customers happy. After all, they are the ones who will be paying you money, not your competitors.
Ideally, the business owners that succeed are the ones with the most passion.
The truth is that you must be passionate about the product you’re selling. If you’re not, then how can you expect other people to be? Too many entrepreneurs make the mistake of doing business in something they don’t care about.
If you hate making coffee, avoid starting a coffee shop.
If making pizza feels like a horrible process, don’t open a pizza shop.
It’s a pretty simple concept if you think about it. Do business in something you like; does that not sound easy enough?
Well, not really.
The reason is that people tend to focus more on profit than anything else.
However, customers can tell if you lack passion. It’ll show in your product and the atmosphere of your business. For instance, many people hate the idea of being in a kitchen and making food.
If that’s you, then avoid the food business.
Yet, if you love being in the kitchen and prepping food is your calling, then you’re in the right place.
Never Give Up & Always Innovate
The coronavirus pandemic has done a ton of damage to the food industry.
Lockdowns, restrictions, and public fear are causing people to stay home and avoid going out to eat. However, this isn’t the end of the world.
Do not give up.
There will always be obstacles in business and things happening that are out of your control. What you must do is innovate. There are many ways to get around the restrictions of the pandemic.
Many food businesses have changed their systems completely.
Delivery, Uber Eats, and order from the table are all becoming popular. Smaller shops like food carts, trucks, and cafes have also seen a boost in sales. They rely less on indoor seating and more on to-go orders and delivery.
Food trucks and food carts are more convenient for customers during a pandemic.
However, for larger restaurants and cafes, the key is to innovate.
Invest in new restaurant POS hardware. Use services like Grubhub and Doordash to deliver food for your customers. Use order at the table to minimize contact with staff and customers.
There’s plenty of ways to innovate your food business in the middle of a pandemic. You just have to be a little creative and willing to invest the time and money to do it.
Have you ever heard the phrase Rome wasn’t built in a day?
There’s a lot of truth to that statement. Rome took a lot longer than a day, a week, and even a year to build. It took many years for the Romans to make their grand empire into what it was
The same thing applies in business. You can’t expect your restaurant to be successful overnight. Just like how the Romans didn’t expect to build their empire in a day.
Patience is the one thing that every business owner needs to succeed.
Sometimes profits won’t show up right away. That is especially true in the food business. The food industry has some of the highest costs and expenses of any other industry.
Most restaurants, bars, cafes, and food trucks don’t start seeing profits for months and even years after opening. Think of all the food costs, rent, utilities, employees, and other things that go into the food industry.
That’s why having patience is so crucial.
If you’re patient, then you will have a much higher likeliness of succeeding. Bill Gates once said that “patience is a key element of success”. His words couldn’t be more true for food entrepreneurs today.
The Bottom Line
Starting a successful and profitable food business is definitely possible.
If you follow the steps outlined in this article, you’ll be one step closer to achieving your goal. Business, in general, is not easy.
It requires time, money, and commitment to get going. Yet, that shouldn’t be an obstacle. There will be plenty of chances for you to make time and money.
Commitment is something we all have.
But the most important thing is to follow the points.
Think of the right food business idea. Write a business plan that’ll help you in the beginning. Focus on your customers, invest in your staff, and pick a great location.
Furthermore, learn to use social media while also practicing passion and patience.
Lastly, remember never to give up.
Always innovate and never back down. Making it in the food business is hard. But if you’re smart and hard-working enough, you can become a profitable success.
Our Guest Contributor:
Alex is a passionate freelance writer who blogs about personal finance, investing, career advice, and self-help. He mainly writes on his blog, https://www.creativefinancialhelp.com/, a website dedicated to teaching people about finance and self-motivation.