Every group of friends has at least one person who is always going on and on about their new favorite recipe or restaurant. You know the one—that person usually knows all kinds of food terminology and will insist on a certain type of orange for the family fruit salad, or only a particular brand of butter and eggs. These are the folks who, inevitably, end up working in some variety of food business.
If you’re the foodie amongst your friends and are wondering if it’s possible to take your love of delectable eats to a new level, there’s good news for you—the restaurant business has a zillion great options. Plus, with more and more folks working from home, anyone hopping on the delivery or curbside pickup train is destined for great profits. Online orders are dominating the way we consume food, which means that you can own a small restaurant without paying even one server or bartender. In fact, small restaurants are opening up everywhere with only a kitchen. Takeout-only restaurants (or “ghost kitchens“) can serve their menu to the masses just as well without managing a dining room. Less overhead means more profit for you, of course.
All that being said, you still need to think about how to go about your foodie dreams in the best way possible. Here are a few financial tips to keep you afloat and even thriving.
Brainstorm ways to lower your overhead and streamline services.
As hinted at above, the best way to keep your profits in your pocket is to spend less and streamline more. Keep your restaurant website simple—a landing page and a menu page are more than enough—and use a social media account manager to schedule posts on your Facebook page for Instagram stories ahead of time. Also, make sure that your menu appears on every delivery app out there—Grubhub , ChowNow, Seamless, Caviar, DoorDash, and all the rest. If you’re concerned about paying to manage a dozen different tablets for the various delivery services, never fear. A restaurant online ordering system can be consolidated into a single POS (point of sale) platform, making things easy to track for restaurant owners and staff alike. Plus, this type of POS integration makes it easier to provide customer support, since all the info is in one place. Less errors means more customer loyalty, means more delivery orders flowing into your POS widget.
Offer a rewards or loyalty program to encourage consistent diners.
One key way to keep diners coming back is to entice them with discounts, coupons, and customer loyalty programs. These are offers that only apply to regulars—like when coffee shops offer you a free latté for every ten coffees you buy, or bakeries give you the fifth pastry half off. Restaurant owners need to think about using email marketing to get new customers, but customer retention is just as important.
Stay on top of tax forms and other legal requirements.
With all the excitement around forming new customer relationships and inventing new menu items, it might be tempting to forget about tax season, but don’t make that rookie error. That said, you don’t need to become your own CPA to file your own tax forms. In fact, it’s a better idea for independent restaurants to choose an easy way to e-file, such as TurboTax or SimpleTax. The last thing you need is to find out that you should have been paying quarterly taxes and you now owe thousands of dollars in back-taxes to the IRS. Using tax software to stay ahead of the game will make sure that you can focus on launching the best restaurant without worrying about an IRS auditor knocking on your door demanding an explanation for the right deductions.