Starting a Fast-Casual Restaurant: A Step-By-Step Guide

It takes a lot of work to open a restaurant. Use our step-by-step guide to starting a fast casual restaurant to ensure you get it all done before opening day.

Make a Plan

Whether you intend to open an independent business or buy a franchise, a clear and informed business plan will lay out your mission and objectives to help you stay on task.

Several unique factors contribute to the success of a restaurant including the location, market position, menu selection, and atmosphere. A high-frequency drive-thru located in a commuter-centric area will have different requirements than a fast-casual franchise positioned in a neighborhood for families to come and enjoy a dine-in experience. The success of a restaurant is dictated by these various factors and how you plan to address them.

Your plan should describe your business, the service or product it provides, the target market it serves, initial financial requirements, and projections over the next five years. You’ll need to highlight your mission and lay out precisely how you intend to meet your goals.

Your business plan should include (but is not limited to):

  • Executive Summary
  • Restaurant Description and Overview
  • Menu
  • Management, Employee and Ownership Structure
  • Competition Analysis and Marketing Strategies
  • Financial Projection and Summary

A major key to your success will lie in your ability to execute your plan. Be realistic and do the research. The more you know about what you need in terms of financial support, employees, products, marketing, and location, the better positioned you will be to start strong and steadily grow your business.

Find the Right Location

A few factors matter greatly when choosing the location where you will open your restaurant: real estate costs, foot traffic, and parking accessibility. Ideally, you will find an affordable space with great visibility to attract customers.

If you have an idea of where you would like to establish your business, scout similar restaurants in the area to see how successful they are, what they may lack, and how your business will fit in the mix.

Most franchisors offer some type of assistance in your location search since finding the right spot for your restaurant will be beneficial for the company. Wayback Burgers understands the importance of the right location. We work with real estate brokers and architects who are familiar with our site requirements and have in-house project managers to guide franchisees throughout the construction process of their restaurants.

Chosen well, your location can bring brand exposure while opening the door to plenty of guests to help your business thrive.

Secure Funding

Not everyone has enough on-hand capital to open a restaurant, but you can secure outside funding through loans, investors, or business lines of credit. For independent restaurateurs with an unproven concept, obtaining funding can be tricky. Opening a restaurant with a well-established franchise appeals to lenders. In fact, the Small Business Association grants loans specifically for franchise investments. While most franchises do not offer internal financing, many are happy to recommend a range of trusted lenders to prospective franchisees.

Assemble Your Team

One of the most important factors for a restaurant’s success is a dedicated, dependable team. From bussers to managers, you want to staff your restaurant with a selection of team members who share your vision and are committed to making your business a success.

Ensure that every new employee knows your restaurant’s mission and is willing to support you and the rest of the team. A happy staff translates to happy customers and finding the right team can help your restaurant reach its highest potential.

One of the many benefits of opening a restaurant franchise is that the store training follows a proven, time-tested formula. Once you have chosen your team, brand standard training is a crucial element to establish guidelines and create a foundation for success.

The right training builds brand consistency, employee engagement and retention, and increased efficiency.

Create a Buzz

Preparing for your restaurant’s Grand Opening is an exciting time! You want to engage with your community and promote your business through as many means as possible.

Traditional and in-store marketing techniques remain powerful, but there are new platforms to help promote and drive your business. Digital and online marketing strategies are constantly evolving and require new ideas and clever customer-engaging campaigns. These digital marketing techniques aren’t solely attached to your business website but involve other avenues, such as:

  • Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
  • Newsletters and Email Marketing
  • Social Media Outreach
  • Online Paid Ads

Some of these methods cost money, while others (like social media) simply require a little creativity and determination to make an impression on your current and prospective customer base.

The marketing strategies for your restaurant will depend upon the nature of your concept and location.

Most concepts do well to utilize a multi-faceted approach, utilizing more sophisticated methods of generating business. Unfortunately for many independent business owners, this level of marketing can be expensive and time-consuming. But for franchise owners, it is one of the best advantages to investing in an established brand.

Wayback Burgers is thrilled to provide franchisees with unparalleled marketing support. With well-established brand awareness and guest loyalty, national marketing, and fundraising partnerships, your restaurant will be ahead of the competition before you even open your doors.

Getting Started

Opening a restaurant is no easy feat; however, it’s completely doable. If you’re feeling overwhelmed or unsure of how to follow the process, consider joining a franchise. Franchises have teams of professionals and industry experts who will help you navigate the steps to open a fast-casual restaurant.

If you would like to learn more about opening your fast-casual restaurant with Wayback Burgers, click here.

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