The Challenges of Opening a Seafood Restaurant (And How You Can Prepare Ahead of Time!)
A successful restaurant, regardless of cuisine style, depends on several factors. The catch is that many of them aren’t apparent to first-time Franchise Owners, so we put together this post to show you what to expect during the first few years of business. Whether or not you’re new to the seafood restaurant business, anyone can ultimately succeed, but the truth is that it takes more than hard work.
Success in the restaurant business always requires a great business plan and a well-researched growth strategy to overcome the problems that you will certainly have to solve at some point. The good news is that we support our new Franchise Owners like no other company and provide them all the help they need to get off the ground and start making a difference in the community. After all, we’re sort of in the entertainment business here; the star of the show will always be the seafood menu and the dining experience that goes along with this type of cuisine.
Why do some restaurants struggle to make profits and eventually fail?
First of all, you have to wonder why so many restaurants eventually fail. Is it that they didn’t offer a creative concept, or is it more along the lines of not taking care of customers’ needs when it was obvious that poor service was an issue. Honestly, it can be a little bit of both, so when you get a good start with Shuckin’ Shack, you’ll have a much better chance at making it through the initial growth phase, since our concept has already proven successful in many different markets. It’s possible to do everything alone with no experience; the problem is that you’ll absolutely make mistakes along the way.
The bottom line is that a majority of independently-owned restaurants fail in their first year, and about 70% of those that last beyond that time go belly up within the next 3-5 years, and the reasons vary from situation to situation. However, it almost always boils down to getting caught off guard when things go wrong or unforeseen expenses come out of nowhere. A failing kitchen freezer is a great example because this equipment will break eventually, especially if you never maintain it.
But what about when the power grid is out of commission for a week after a major hurricane? Without power and running water for several days, you’ll have to throw away all of your food stock because it’ll go bad faster than you think. It’s expenses like these that catch many restaurant owners off-guard when capital is tight and you don’t have much room in your budget.
So, in this situation, what do you think most people do? They look for cheap solutions, try to get by, and hope for the best. It may be intentionally shorting your weekly stock and telling your staff to “make it work,” which brings us to our next point.
Nurturing a bonded front-of-house staff
No matter how you structure a restaurant’s personnel, the front-of-the-house staff will always, always own the point-of-sales. You will literally depend on these workers to drive sales and promote the business too. Management will come and go, but nothing will ensure your success like an emotionally bonded staff who helps and supports one another when things get hectic.
No one goes into any restaurant and thinks, “Wow! Look at that floor manager go! I’m having a surf-n-turf tonight, baby!” Instead, they walk in and receive an immediate greeting from a smiling hostess. They’ll see other patrons laughing and having a great time with their servers and bartenders, and it’ll prove that you care about customer service. They’re happy and excited before they even sit down and order a drink.
That’s really what it’s about because you have to actually care about people to thrive in the restaurant business. That’s a significant part of your brand, too, not just great food and clever interior design.
If you plan to open up a Shuckin’ Shack in a small but tight-knit community, you must gain a reputation for outstanding customer service and a great atmosphere right away from the grand opening. If you want to open up in an urban area with a high sales volume, you have a little more time to refine customer service and hire the right people at the front of the house, but not much. We’ll be sure to go over staffing in more detail in future posts, so stay tuned to learn how to hire talented servers, hostesses, and bartenders.
Inventory cost control is an easy win
Another common challenge is cost control, especially food costs. In the seafood restaurant business, stock can be expensive if you don’t have a reliable supplier, so at Shuckin’ Shack, we’ve worked hard to establish a solid supply chain. You don’t have to pass along extra costs to your customers and raise menu prices no matter what.
Right now, inflation is a huge topic for every type of business, and we have the processes already in place to keep costs as low as possible without cutting corners and watering down your concept. The quality of your food – along with a close, bonded staff – is your greatest asset, so once you can establish a rhythm with inventory costs, you can project sales figures accurately quarter to quarter instead of making educated guesses on sales that may or may not materialize.
Still, we can help you achieve all of that when you open up a Shuckin’ Shack franchise. Our business model is proven, and we’ve already fine-tuned everything you’ll need to get a jump start. You’ll be far more prepared for the challenges you’ll face, and you’ll have an answer for hiring a great staff and keeping costs low.
Visit our franchise website to learn more about the business opportunity at Shuckin’ Shack.