In order to maximise the potential of your restaurant, you must understand the local demand. You can open the greatest sushi restaurant in the world, but if you are in an area where people are not keen to try new things and have very traditional tastes, it may take too long for your business to become success.
Similarly, you need to run a restaurant that suits your skills, capabilities and the products and ingredients that are regularly available to you, or you will not be able to create the demand for your restaurant, even if your customers are keen.
Assess the CompetitionThe first place to start to understand what the local demand and potential local demand is will be by looking at the competition. See what other restaurants and similar establishments there are in your proposed area and assess what they offer and how they are offering it.
If possible, go in and act as a customer and see what they do and how well they do it – check out the prices, how busy it is, what people are ordering and what times it is open. See if the types of customers are the type of people you want to attract and could possible like what you are planning to offer. It is also a good idea to go at different times of the day to get a fully rounded opinion. You may even find that the owner or boss is willing to chat to you, but be careful that you don’t act too sneaky or tell any fibs, because if you then go ahead and open your restaurant, they may feel cheated and you’ll need all the support you can get.
Assess the CustomersGetting potential customers excited about your new restaurant is half the battle. It is imperative that people are interested in what you are doing – particularly if it is in a town where people are involved in what new places are opening up.
Rather than boarding up the windows as you get decorating, make sure that local people are made to feel welcome to ask about what’s going on. It may sound annoying, and you certainly don’t want busy-bodies getting in the way, but it will make a huge difference when you open as local people will feel ‘part of’ the restaurant and will therefore be far more likely to visit – and as long as you impress them, you’ve gained a new customer.
You could even see about getting a feature in the local paper and offering money off tickets or a competition for a free meal.