Don Bye
Blog, Operational Efficiency

Every business needs a business plan. This is especially true for restaurants. After all, with so many moving pieces, like multiple stores and maybe even multiple brands, a plan will help define the direction so your business can grow.

While some of the aspects of managing a restaurant are inevitably beyond your control, there are many other things that are predictable, like franchise fees and some of your other costs. Let’s look at what goes into a great business plan. If you already have one, great – this will help you make sure all of your bases are covered. And if you don’t have a business plan for your restaurant yet, this will get you well on your way to creating one.

Do I really need a business plan?

Maybe you’ve been in the restaurant business for a long time, or maybe the ins and outs of restaurant management come naturally to you. Even if you’ve made it this far without a well-documented business plan, it’s never too late to put something in writing.

Think of your business plan like the GPS driving navigation app on your phone. You know where you are, and you know where you’re going; the business plan tells you a good way to get there. But that’s not all. Like your phone’s navigation app, it can help identify alternate routes to your destination. Maybe your original plan hit one too many bumps and isn’t working for you anymore. Or maybe it needs updating to accommodate expansion. A good business plan will help you pivot and find new ways to get where you want to go.

Most importantly, this is the plan for your business. It should go beyond the basic plans from corporate so you can succeed above and beyond corporate expectations. It’s where you account for your market conditions, your workforce, and your business goals. This is where you identify and/or develop your secret sauce, the details that help each brand’s top performers become the top performers.

What’s in a business plan?

The most important pieces of a business plan are:

  1. An executive summary. Your elevator pitch. What does your restaurant do, and why? This section usually includes business objectives, your mission statement, and your primary values (service, integrity, gratitude, etc.).
  2. A company description. What do you sell? Where are you located? When are you open? The info that you might find on a map should be listed here.
  3. A description of services. Describe your day-to-day operations, your suppliers, and your administrative setup, like cash handling and payroll. Remember, the more specific the details, the more you’ll identify opportunities to improve them.
  4. A market analysis. What type of restaurant are you running? Who’s your target market? What are the demographics? Who are you competing against locally? What are the trends in your market, and what needs haven’t been met yet?
  5. A marketing strategy. How do you plan to reach your market? What makes you stand out among your competitors? Your pricing strategy, sales forecasting, and advertising strategy belong here – especially your local strategy. This is also a great place to do a miniature SWOT analysis on your business.
  6. An outline of your organization. How do you plan to structure your organization? Even if you’re using a traditional store management structure, lay it all out here. You can also list your operational tools, like your POS system, as these pieces help your structure take form, and may help identify efficiencies.
  7. A financial plan. This is generally both a restaurant owner’s favorite and least-favorite section. It’s also one of the most important parts of a business plan. How are you going to be profitable? What’s your expected revenue? How much does your average meal cost? What are your startup costs? How much is rent? Insurance? Payroll? Inflation? How much do you have, and how much do you need? These things are so important – don’t overlook them just because they can be hard to define.

How do I make a business plan?

There sure are a lot of pieces in a good business plan, so how do you even begin to put them all together? Great news: there are plenty of free business plan templates out there, including one we created specifically for restaurants. Take a look at the Restaurant Business Plan Template below. Whether you’re the type of person who needs to set aside a block of time to hammer it out or the type of person who would rather work in pieces, the important thing is just to get started.

You wouldn’t drive somewhere for the first time without looking up how to get there. Your restaurant is no different; don’t just start driving, hoping to find your restaurant’s future by luck. Make a plan. Use a template to get started.

Download our free business plan template and get your restaurant on track today.

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