No matter the skill of your chefs, the genius of your menu and recipe choices, and the atmosphere of your restaurant, nothing can compensate for a bad location. Even the most spectacular restaurant will be hamstringing itself by opening in a hard-to-reach, obscure spot, so when opening your own eatery, you need to pay close attention to the where!
A good location will mean an easier time attracting customers and establishing regular repeat customers, but that isn’t all you should worry about when choosing a spot to set up shop. You also need to consider:
Where the Competition is
If you open an Italian restaurant in Ormskirk, for example, it’s important to know that you aren’t about to set up opposite another Italian restaurant – opening too close to another restaurant in your same niche is asking for trouble, as you will be finding your feet as a restauranteur, already in a state of intense competition with your immediate rival.
Unless the customer base you both serve is truly enormous, then opening too close to an established rival restaurant is a death sentence for one or both of your establishments – with a divided customer base, you will each have to try to win over the customers of the other restaurant, either putting them out of business decisively or creating a sort of slow “war of attrition” in which neither restaurant has enough business to survive, and the first one to close loses.
With that in mind, choose your location wisely! Opening somewhere with no restaurants at all may not be better than opening by a rival – it could be that there are no restaurants there because it is a sort of dead zone, where no business can thrive.
Local knowledge is crucial. When you are considering establishing a restaurant in a certain location, you should make every effort to get to know the area well – what sort of restaurant would do well here? What do the people appreciate? Is there local parking, other social and leisure businesses or any other factors which may boost footfall? In the case of our hypothetical Italian restaurant in Ormskirk, this could be make or break.
Ease of Deliveries
The competition isn’t the only thing which might dictate your location. Another prominent concern is actually supplying your restaurant with the things it needs to function – deliveries of ingredients, consumables and equipment, cash collection services and banking, and the ease with which your employees can commute in to work there.
The ability to easily and inexpensively receive the supplies needed to provide a good customer experience is more important than many restauranteurs may think – as an effective system will simply fly under the radar, as many well-oiled machines do. However, an inefficient system will mean additional stresses to management at every turn, creating problems and expense with supply chain, employees and service and potentially making it difficult to even run the restaurant!
The other two factors in choosing your location may be important, but they are nothing compared to the power of your customers. If you have enough loyal customers, competition and supply chain problems can be overcome, but without them, nothing else will matter, so the single most important aspect of choosing your restaurant location is choosing a spot that is easy for customers to find.
A great example of this principle in action is Quattro’s Italian Ristorant in Rainford – by setting up on the Rainford By-Pass at Bickerstaffe, Quattro’s perfectly sits between population centres and is easily accessible from either, avoiding the intense inner-city competition while still being perfectly convenient for customers to reach, and providing a unique service – no other restaurant in the area provides the opportunity to meet friends from different towns in a nearby place which suits you both!
At the same time as all this, its location on a main road makes it perfectly easy for supplies and ingredients to reach it quickly and easily – essential for its menu, which uses only fresh ingredients bought each day.
By paying careful attention to the three factors involved with restaurant location – Competition, Logistics and Customers – you’ll be providing the best chance for success that you possibly can!