Although working at a fast food restaurant is one of the very first jobs that many experience in their early years, running the establishment is significantly more involved than simply taking cash, mopping the floors, and packing orders full of fries. The task of operating a fast food business is much more complex than it appears and can at times be stressful and complicated. Here are 10 Things You Didn’t Know About Running A Fast Food Business.
10. Create Popular, Delicious and Original Menu Items
One of the most important aspects of running a fast food restaurant is picking a good theme for the menu – that is if it’s not already established in a franchise format. This can be incredibly daunting, but no matter what, there are three things to ensure while designing a fast food restaurant menu. The first of these is that the dishes should be popular. This does not mean you need a burger and fries or pizza on the menu, but there should be some options available for picky eaters. It’s also more important that the restaurant focuses on some more familiar dishes if a new ethnic food is to be sold that the community at hand may not be familiar with. It guarantees new customers and those picky eaters will be willing to try the restaurant. If the food is good they are more likely to return more trusting and willing the other menu items. The second important factor is having original menu items. Opening up a pizza shop with all the same pizzas as every other restaurant is unlikely to bring in any new customers. In a franchise scenario, the “original” items may already be laid out, but in terms of a self start up, focus should be put into making sure that the menu is fresh and exciting so people have a reason to pick this restaurant over the more recognized competition. Finally, and most importantly, no matter what type of food will be served, it must be delicious!
9. Training Is Essential
Training is an essential aspect of running a fast food restaurant. Although the owner may be absolutely perfect at every aspect of running the restaurant, it is nearly impossible to operate a restaurant entirely solo. This is why establishing an effective training program and operations system can help to guarantee that the restaurant is able to operate at maximum efficiency. Although the owner may make a perfect burger and fries, if the staff he leaves in charge of the restaurant burns all the food, leaves the place a mess, and have terrible customer service skills, the restaurant will begin to fail. Good service is crucial and that’s why training is so important. Training must be planned taking into consideration how long an employee should be considered a beginner, how many hours of training are required, how many employees are required on a shift, what jobs should be allotted to which employees and more. In a small scale operation where few people are hired at any given time, a restaurant is capable of doing hands on training with employees. However in larger franchise operations, this may not be possible. Establishing how employees should be trained prior to hiring them is important in order in order to save time, effort and ultimately money, leaving time to focus on other aspects of the business while feeling secure the day to day is being professionally handled.
8. Meeting Rising Health Standards
Many may believe that running a fast food restaurant, especially a franchise, is easy compared to many other jobs. How difficult can selling quick meals really be? While the process of the food service aspect may be easy in some regards, running a fast food restaurant is no simple task, especially when one must take into consideration the continual heightening and tightening of health standards. Meeting the criteria of health standards is very individualized depending on the city, county, state, and nation. Each of these platforms takes a part in setting health and safety standards regarding the food preparation and service process. From which a restaurant buys its produce and to the ways in which the meals are stored, prepared, and cooked is managed by health professionals from the top to the bottom. Every step of the way the customers health must be considered before any new menu item, cooking techniques, or renovations are added. If the restaurant is unable to pass through strict health regulations, they’ll be heavily fined or forced to close! Every day people’s health must be considered, even if the job is as simple as passing over an order of fries.
7. Uniformity for Customer Comfort
One of the most pivotal aspects of operating a successful fast food business is ensuring a certain degree of uniformity in the restaurant atmosphere. This aspect is important because it guarantees the customer that they can count on a quality service every time they visit the restaurant. Uniformity can be represented in a few important ways depending on the style of restaurant. The most crucial of these methods is in the delivery of the food itself. Every time someone orders a Big Mac with fries and a Coke, they are certain of the experience in which they are about to partake. It is this uniformity that has made McDonald’s so wildly successful on a global scale. Another way to practice uniformity is to enforce a uniform policy so that staff look the same in the restaurant and are distinguishable to customers for ease of assistance. Finally, if a fast food business is successful enough to branch into multiple locations or a franchise style of business, uniformity should be recognized in not only the uniforms, but also in the packaging, branding, and construction of the additional locations. The uniform style of expansion is a fantastic way to receive free advertising and to promote a sense of security and stability for customers which is an essential aspect of the dining out experience.
6. Social Media is a Necessity
This item on the list is one that has grown increasingly important as the age of the internet continues to expand into the 21st century. Marketing in the past usually consisted of a radio and television campaign which was seen as essential to success. Today, what’s increasingly important is a restaurant’s social media presence. It is important to say presence because in the world of social media, not only is the advertisement and the product itself important, but also how the company interacts with the public and its customers. Restaurants who have highly followed social media platforms and those who remain active outside of the realms of simple advertisements are likely to find success in the modern world. Restaurants now must not only ensure that customers are aware of their products and location, but consumers are becoming actively involved in discourse with companies regarding their opinions on everything from the menu to social movements. Having that presence is important, and so is how the presence is used. Consumers now have a voice, so it’s important that restaurants use their social media platforms to continue advocating for others instead of only focusing on profits. Social media is one of the easiest and fastest ways to communicate this with millions of people.
5. Know the Market Before Setting the Menu
One of the very first steps in running a restaurant is choosing what type of restaurant to run. Will the food be a franchise location or an original? Will the food stem from a particular culture or will it follow the pizza/burgers/fries standard model? Properly assessing the community in which the restaurant will be located is essential in order to properly plan and tailor the menu and restaurant itself for success. Think about the community at hand. Are there already hundreds of burger restaurants, but no Lebanese restaurants? Will the market accept the incoming menu? Thinking of opening a franchise? The community should also be considered. If there are already 5 McDonald’s in a town that must compete with one another, perhaps open the first Subway instead of thinning the market further. Being the only location, and having national familiarity, is a good recipe for a successful operation. If the community at hand is not suitable for the restaurant of one’s dreams, another location may be preferable. On the other hand, maybe someone’s hometown is in desperate need of a restaurant that promises something new. These are all serious economic considerations that must be made far in advance of opening the doors.
4. Marketing is Key!
Gaining attention for the restaurant is one of the most important aspects of management. The restaurant may have all of the other necessary aspects for success, but marketing is one way to boost sales. Marketing is important at all stages of a fast food restaurants development. Pre-opening buzz can greatly assist in guaranteeing opening day sales and bring in lots of customers to try and impress. This is a phenomenal way of establishing a good customer base. Marketing for the business must continue throughout the life of the restaurant. Social media campaigns, radio advertisements, newspaper, and television advertisements are some of the most well known ways to market a business. Marketing should inform the public about news surrounding the restaurant such as new menu items, holiday specials, free promotions and more. Always remember, getting creative is one of the best ways to market a business. People pass hundreds of road signs on the highway, but how many restaurants would advertise on a hot air balloon? Get creative with marketing and the restaurant will reap the rewards! There are endless ways that a restaurant can market itself and creative options that speak directly to the intended audience are crucial. General advertisements are good for awareness but what demographic does the restaurant specifically cater to? If the location typically has an older clientele, are they looking to branch into the young family market? Or perhaps they want to promote directly to the senior demographic and inform them of the cozy familiarity of their restaurant. All these options must be carefully considered for a marketing campaign to get results and worth the money spent.
3. The Owner Must Have a Heart and a Head
There are many sharks in the business world and knowing how to navigate the complexities and manipulations of such a money driven culture can be tricky. In order to properly handle said difficulties, it is crucial that the owner of a restaurant has a good head on their shoulders. This does not necessarily mean that only those holding business degrees and geniuses are able to make a living running a fast food restaurant. However, it is extremely crucial that the owner has the finesse and skills involved to navigate competitors, tough customers, and potential media nightmares. Having a good head also means knowing when to ask for help, admit errors and seek guidance. The best in business know how to admit their flaws in order to receive the best assistance from others who are better in those areas. In addition to having a good sense of intelligence, it is crucial that the owner has a heart. Today, it has never been more important to show a strong sense of compassion for employees, their rights, and thee customers in order to be successful. Some of the best free advertising can be selfless acts of kindness by the business itself! Public Relations teams are wildly expensive, however if the owner already aims to pursue wealth through the use of not only his business savvy, but his compassion and generosity as well, the need for public relations departments can be greatly eased. There are less scandals to cover up if there are no scandals to begin with!
2. Location, location, location!
No matter how delicious the food, no matter how popular the brand and no matter how much money is spent on advertising, if a restaurant does not select a good location, it is doomed from the beginning. There are a few crucial factors that must be considered when a restaurant is starting up. Foot traffic is incredibly important for guaranteeing sales. This is the reason why malls, beaches and strip plazas are often able to keep the same restaurants year after year and quieter areas often witness business after business come and go. Another important factor is the general location in terms of road access and other potential attractions to draw customers in. It is an absolute must that a restaurant has easy road access in order to allow cars to enter and exit the parking lot and/or drive thru with ease. Owners must also consider whether the foot traffic in a place like a mall is more or less valuable than the road traffic on a highway off-ramp. There are many difficult considerations when running a business. Finally, things like proximity to the beach, the movie theater, theme parks and other attractions are all considered when establishing a location. If people are already in the area for an alternative reason, chances are they will need someone to fill their stomach while they’re there!
1. The Customer is King
Despite what the employees, owners, or anyone else has in mind when running a restaurant, if the customer is not catered to in the correct manor, there is no way for a restaurant to thrive. This idea is common in commission sales and to any business owner really. If customers are not happy, they will not spend their money or will refuse to return to make a future purchase, and in the end the business loses money. Bad customer service and unhappy customers can also result in the spread of bad publicity about the restaurant. At the end of the day, the menu must reflect the customers wants, and the service must respect the culture where the restaurant is located. This is true not only of start-ups, but established companies are also now having to consider this factor as they expand globally. What has been traditionally popular for customers in one nation may not be welcomed with the same love in another. For instance, when Tim Hortons expanded into the United States, in order to clear any confusion regarding what the brand stood for, the name on the sign was changed to Tim Hortons: Cafe and Bake Shop. Other restaurants like McDonald’s have had to alter menus by removing or adding dishes in order to please a new geographic market. No matter what, the customer must be happy or the business has no chance of survival no matter how fantastic things look right up until the customer walks through the door.