5 common mistakes first time restauranteurs make

And how to avoid them so you're a success from day one

The foodservice industry is no walk in the park. It’s complex, fast-paced, competitive and can be frustrating, but we don’t need to tell you that. It’s also exhilarating, rewarding and backed with a community of passionate and like-minded people. So perhaps that’s why you’ve decided to open up shop on your own? Before you go any further, read on for the top 5 mistakes made by first time restauranteurs so you know what to avoid…

1.  Failing to do the math

Let’s start with a big one. And it’s a mistake that almost all restaurants have made before. Failing to map out a recipe and calculate its exact cost (how much it costs to produce it, not just how much you want to sell it for) will mean your food costs quickly escalate, and you may be selling food (no matter how amazing it is) at a great loss. This is the ultimate mistake for any restaurant – but it is far from uncommon. Most menus are developed by chefs that focus on how dishes look and taste, which is important, but then you must ensure you have costed out each masterpiece before putting a price on it.

 2.  Understaffing

When you first start out, you will be tempted to only hire the bare minimum staff you think you will need to prevent paying for employees to stand around when its quiet. Although this seems logical, it is actually the opposite of what you should do. In the beginning, you need to hire many more people than you think you will need. Probably around three or four times more. Why? It is a sad fact that about a third of the people you hire up front will probably realise the job isn’t for them in the first week. Another third, you may not be happy with after working with them, get rid of them and focus on the remaining staff. Even if you are saying “that won’t happen to me, I will only hire the best” it will still happen, trust us.

3.  Going without the best tools to start with

 We know you will be trying to save as much money as possible before opening and may have decided to buy less or go without certain pieces of equipment until you have proven your concept and made some more money. But this is often a self-defeating idea. Invest in the right tools early so everything runs smoothly from the start, keeping staff from getting frustrated with less than ideal work conditions. This varies from front of house ordering technology and well-maintained ovens and grills, to having excess wine glasses for when you have a happy hour promotion. Invest now and save yourself later. 

4.   Failing to communicate

Communication is such a simple one but one that so many people get wrong and we’re not just talking about verbal communication (although that is important too). You need to walk the talk – demonstrate the behaviour you expect from your staff. On top of that, ensure when you do communicate verbally, you are giving staff the opportunity to reciprocate and ask questions. And answer them honestly! When you take the time to explain why things are done a certain way your staff can understand the bigger picture and are more likely to trust and respect you.

5.  Launching too soon

You only get one chance to make a first impression. If you don’t impress your customers the first time around, they will walk further down the street next time to one of your competitors. Although you think you may be ready to launch your brand new venue to the public, remember that there are probably a lot of kinks you haven’t ironed out yet. We recommend holding a soft opening for family and friends of the staff to test your processes and kitchen. That way you’ll get no bad reviews to begin with.

This list may seem overwhelming, but always remember that planning and foresight go a long way in the restaurant industry. Try to avoid these mistakes and you will be another step closer to your dream of running a successful restaurant.



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