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Starting a food business in Dubai? Here are dos and don’ts you need to think of

Tips on everything from targeting your customers to picking the perfect location

Just got out of business school and want to turn your love for food into a restaurant in Dubai? You need to be aware of common mistakes when getting into the food and beverage (F&B) industry.

Opening a new restaurant requires some smart decision making, so here some necessary dos and don’ts to refer to…

DO: Understand your needs as a food business

Put a lot of time and thought into your start-up costs. Factor in from the beginning, the cost of construction and set-up overruns, order changes and the inevitable delays in getting approvals and permissions. Your feasibility study should take into account such factors and account for at least 15 per cent more capital than you initially thought of using, in the rapidly evolving new market.

DON’T: Expect to start making money from day one

Even if sales are strong from day one, you will always be operating initially in deficit, for a few months at the very minimum. This should be factored into your start-up budgeting so you don’t suddenly find yourself out of money. Dubai sees new projects launch every quarter, which is a great thing for the economy in the long run.

DO: Identify a clear vision and a strong purpose

All those involved in your venture need to be bound together by a common goal and establishing this requires strong leadership skills. A new restaurant demands hard work, long hours and often hectic conditions, so you’ll need a strong culture of collaboration, communication and team work to get through it.

Having a well-documented set of procedures, recipes, brand guidelines and detailed training manuals are the only way to achieve consistency in service and operating standards.Image Credit: Pexels

DON’T: Dismiss the importance of processes and procedures

Every single day, a restaurant sees a team of individuals carry out hundreds and thousands of tasks, all of which require seamless transition, precision organisation and consistent execution. Restaurant franchises have the benefit of starting with every procedure and process already in writing but independent restaurants often just try and make it up as they go. Having a well-documented set of procedures, recipes, brand guidelines and detailed training manuals are the only way to achieve consistency in service and operating standards.

DO: Remember that you own the outlet

This means that you should be managing the business and focusing on such activities as the monitoring of cash flow, the analysing and forecasting of profit and loss (P&L) sheets, the planning of future marketing activities and other strategic functions. Even during the start-up phase, try to avoid getting bogged down with menial tasks and day-to-day staff training and monitoring. Your brand management should enhance your efforts by focusing on brand positioning and communication in the first crucial year.

DON’T: Try to appeal to everyone

You can’t possibly appeal to everyone and if you try, you’ll end up diluting your brand concept, confusing your customers and dealing with an overly complicated menu and kitchen. The key to success is to identify a niche and then to fulfill it, with focus.

The key to success is to identify a niche and then to fulfill it, with focus.

DO: Iron out start-up issues before having a grand opening day

Most restaurants have at least a few weeks soft opening to iron out initial issues and ease into work flows before hosting a grand opening. Why put extra pressure on yourself? First impressions count and in a city where competition is rife, you can’t afford to start out with a bad launch. Expect the first two weeks to be a trial and error experience and use the learnings to build a strong team and product.

DON’T: Focus only on what you like

Because you are not the customer. Find out what your potential customer market likes, wants and are willing to pay before launching. Go to competitor restaurants, set up focus groups, and chat to the local community to figure out what people want.

DO: Secure a location that suits your concept

You’d expect this advice to be the other way around. Ideally, you should seek a great location and then determine what the local market wants before building your concept around that. However, in an emerging growing market like Dubai, most locations are sourced off-plan to avoid losing out on prime space. In this case you need to ensure that no matter what your heart desired, your concept now needs to match the new location’s target audience, buying habits and above all, F&B facilities and seating capacity should support your feasibility plans.

DON’T: Settle on a mediocre location to reduce your rent

People expect convenience so if they need to go out of their way to find you, they probably won’t bother. High visibility and convenient access are more critical today than ever before, so skimping on rent by compromising on location is not a good move.

– Inputs from Dubai-based F&B firm Restaurant Secrets Inc. (RSI)

Source: Gulf News

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