HOW TO START A PROFITABLE FAST FOOD EATERY AND RESTAURANT BUSINESS IN NIGERIA.
By Our Reporter
Food is a basic human need and as such any business in that line is always profitable particularly in Nigeria where many people do not have time to cook and so depend on restaurants for their meals. Several major restaurants started out as small food joints and then went on to become world known providers of this service such as McDonalds, Dominos and KFC. However, as successful as restaurant business can be, it requires a lot of effort and strategizing like any other business.
Many people have started out in this business and failed because they do not know what it takes. We will discuss details of how to start a restaurant /fast food business and excel in it here. It is very likely that you will succeed in your restaurant business if you study and apply the information here. Having said that, let us move on to look at the steps required in establishing and sustaining a fast food eatery/restaurant in Nigeria.
Carry out a market/feasibility survey
The first thing to do in starting any business including restaurant/eatery is to carry out a survey of the environment where you want to site your restaurant. This is an important step because the temptation is to set up a restaurant to your taste instead of your potential customers’ taste. Your restaurant will fail if you provide the wrong service for instance starting a restaurant in Jos and cooking food with snail will land you in trouble. This is pretty obvious but you need research to unveil some things about your business. Is the service you want to provide required in the environment? How much competition is there? What is already on ground? Doing this will give you an idea of what you need to do to out compete those who are already there.
You must have a business plan
Before you embark on any venture in life you must sit down and draft a plan. You cannot start building a house without planning how the house will look, how big it should be, how many rooms and the location. The same applies to starting a restaurant that will flourish. You must write a plan that will include everything you need. How much will it cost? How big do you want the restaurant to be, where it should be located, how you intend to raise money and estimated cost.Everything pertaining to the business must be well thought out from the beginning so that you don’t start work and stop along the way because you haven’t figured out some things. It is advisable that you have this written down. Consult experts in business plan writing let them look at your plan and make useful inputs. Pay for their services if you have to. You may lose much more later if you don’t get it right, so no cost is too high to start on a solid foundation.
Get a place
After you have drawn your business plan, start by getting a location. You are not going to cook and serve your customers in open air. The location for a restaurant should be close to the road in a commercial area where potential customers can easily find it. The kind of location that is easily accessible may be a bit more expensive but it is worth it to give your business a boost. You don’t want to site your restaurant where someone will have to spend hours looking for it. The restaurant building should be decent looking because nobody wants to eat in a dirty mud house for instance. Renovate it if necessary and tile the floor. Do whatever it takes to make the place comfortable for your customers. Of course you should think about buying things like TV sets for the restaurant to help your customers relax. You can never do too much trying to make your restaurant a pleasant place to stay.
Get an identity
The easiest way for your business to grow is to get an identity. You can achieve his by either registering your restaurant with the Corporate Affairs Commission to get a brand name or by buying a franchise. The latter is easier because you will just buy the right to sell your own product under the name of an established brand. For instance you may approach Mr. Biggs and agree with them to operate your restaurant under their name. You may pay them an amount of money or you pay them commission as long as you are using their name depending on your agreement. Not all Mr. Biggs you see are Mr. Biggs so get a brand name whichever way. It will give you a kind of class and make you to stand out.
Employ the best people to cook
Just like the main idea behind building a hospital is to provide medical care, the aim of having a restaurant to provide good food for your customers. This is what you are about and it is your mission statement. As much as you want your restaurant to look good, make sure your food is great as well because no one cares how fine a restaurant is if the food there is horrible. You can achieve this by employing very good and experienced cooks or chefs. Offer them better salaries if you have to but do whatever it takes to provide good food for your customers. If you win in this aspect, your other weak points may be overlooked. You may not have experience as a trained cook but that is okay if you have good cooks in your kitchen. Do not compromise your food quality for anything. You may not know this but I have seen many previously booming restaurants that have lost their customers because they compromised on food quality. The importance of this cannot be over emphasized.
Have a unique menu
Your restaurant should be known for something. Every major business in the world is known for something they are really good at. What kind of dishes will you be preparing? Make a list of them and make sure those things are always available. One of the things that really put customers off is going to your restaurant every day to order their favourite food and it is not available. Trust me if it happens two times you have lost such a customer. Whatever dishes you want to be cooking make sure they are always available because some customers are stuck to your place just because of those dishes or just one. Be known for something.
There is one thing that always sets some people above their competitors. This is called adding value. It means to do something in addition to the regular thing you are doing that other people in the same line of business don’t do. Adding value in restaurant business could be timely service for customers, rendering delivery service, cheaper food with high quality or offering something to your customers for free that other restaurants don’t offer. I am not aware of a restaurant in Nigeria that you can call and they will bring you lunch in your office. They will be very few even if they exist. Make it possible for people to order food maybe online or by phone call and have it delivered on time. They wouldn’t mind you adding a little amount to cover transportation. There are many other things you can do to add value. In addition to cooking food, you may have a bakery in the same building which makes it easy for customers to buy cakes, bread etc. when they come to eat. Whatever you do, make sure you add value. Remember we are talking about how to succeed in this business.
If you do start a restaurant, like any other business you have to be persistent to keep it going. Starting is always a bit difficult but with time everything will be fine especially when you start expanding and employing staff to help you. Good luck with your business.