Starting a Restaurant – Everything you need to know


Getting into the food business can be both easy and difficult. The former can be achieved if you know where to start and how to start while the latter if you decide to venture into something unknown.

Top methods to start a restaurant

There is never any short-cut to starting a business, more so if it is food. While there will always be demand for food, you will want your restaurant to be packed and filled with customers in order to earn a good income.

Factors you must consider

Malaysia, being a prime food destination is one market you can consider but you seriously need to do some heavy planning which include:

  1. Experience – This involves the concept you are going to implement in your restaurant. Most restaurateurs already have a concept in mind before starting out. You could get involved in a luxury diner, a café, a coffee shop or a traditional concept with a contemporary touch. The creativity is yours but you need to bridge that to profit and other facts.
  2. Location – Your outlet will be the most important. Unless you have a signboard that dates back to generations or you have a tagline that reads ‘The best Roti Canai in the world’ as your heritage, it is all about visibility and accessibility. This will then determine your cost and overheads.
  3. Type of food – this deals primarily with the type of food you are offering. One good thing about selling food in Malaysia is that you can choose a certain cuisine (Chinese, Malay, Indian, Continental) or fusion of a few types. Then, you need to decide on the menu
  4. Licensing – This must be among your priorities. When you sell food, health is the most important. If you sell alcohol, you will not get your Halal certificate. Signage must have licensing while you need to pay for license with MACP and PPM if you play music in your outlet. Besides that, you need to have the operator’s license from the municipal hall of the location
  5. Marketing – this is very crucial because you want people to know about you. The most common methods for marketing today is through social media. You need great images and reviews as well as being listed in forums and platforms like OpenRice.
  6. Delivery – You might want to get involved with current delivery platforms like Food Panda, Delivery Eat, DahMakan and others. This will help you to spread the word about what you are offering

What about cost?

This is obviously the most important factor that you must consider. There must be a lot of financial planning and projections involved before you start. You must have a good business plan before venturing out. That will give you the platform to determine what costs will be required and you must itemize them accordingly. Start-up cost will vary depending on the location and concept of your restaurant. Among those that you must take into consideration are:

  1. Preliminary expenses – This involves conducting research and planning before you start. You might engage individuals who will help you carry out research and surveys on whether your business will work in the at location and travelling if you are going to run your business in another location
  2. Loans – You might take a small business loan to start your business. This might not be a feasible option as you get into debts before starting. There are many options you can consider in starting your business without getting a loan.
  3. Fees – This involves the cost for paying for licensing and permits. You will most likely need to pay for business registration, lawyers, registration of your domain insurance and licensing
  4. Overheads – Since you are starting a restaurant, you must calculate your overheads. The most expensive part in all this would be your rental. You need to allocate a full year (at least) for rental and it could be quite expensive depending on your location. Apart from that, you need to calculate other expenses like utility bills, salary and others. Another cost that need to be factored in would be renovation. This would include other costs like POS system, Wi-Fi or internet access and other technological expenses
  5. Supplies – Once you determined the rental and overheads, then you need to do factor in your supplies. You either get your food supplies daily or weekly and you must now determine how much would be required
  6. Promotions – Going on social media would be quite affordable but it would still be cost involved. Besides that, you might want to consider paying for other marketing activities like printing of flyers, advertising and such

Tips to starting

You could have all the technical stuff figured out but you will still need some tips that might springboard you to a higher level. After all, starting a business is not just about having an operational outlet and meeting the requirements. You will be dealing with people on a daily basis and you will definitely have more to learn than anyone else.

  1. SOPs – SOPs are standard operating procedures which you must have to the most detailed. This will give you a good sense of governance over everything you do including auditing stocks from suppliers and petty cash, among others
  2. Differentiate – The idea here is not to be totally different from others because you want to stand out. There must be a reason why your customers come to you and not your competitors.
  3. Learn – You are not going to be an expert overnight. So, there might be others that you would learn from. Be humble and your chefs might teach you a thing or two. This is because while you might be the boss, some of your employees might have been in this industry longer than you.
  4. Appreciate your employees – this is a service industry and your staff will be the face of your business. Appreciate them and they will show your customers just how good your business is. Imagine what they could do if they are unhappy working for you.

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