So often we hear about the keys to success in the restaurant business and we tend to take them for granted because they seem so logical. But what seems so logical just doesn't hold up to be true. I have been selling restaurants for almost 35 years and I have had a chance to learn first hand exactly why restaurants fail and what I have learned may surprise you.
It's not what you have been told. Here are some of the most frequently sited principles for success that are simply myths when examined over decades.
1. More capital is better than less capital. One of the biggest reason's restaurants fail is because they are undercapitalized. This is not true. What you need is just enough capital. Too much capital leads to waste and inattention to details. I've seen many restaurants fail because they spent money foolishly because they had so much of it. The restaurant business is a "nickel and dime" business. You must be afraid all the time and watch all the details to make sure your business is as efficient as possible. Having too much capital is a hindrance not a help. As a landlord faced with two prospective tenants - one with a great financial statement but little experience and one with great experience and just barely enough capital, I would pick the one with great experience because that is the one that has the best chance of success.
2. There are 5 essential elements to a successful restaurant, and you must have all 5 to be successful. Here are the 5 essential elements to a successful restaurant: Food Service Atmosphere Price Location If you have all 5 of these essential elements, you will go broke. Best to only have 3-4 of them. Imagine the best food, most wonderful service, greatest most expensive atmosphere, best prices and best most expensive location...you would go broke because you can't deliver all these wonderful things with the best prices. I would always include food and service, but you can mix and match the other ones. Number 2 ties into number 1 above because if you have enough money to have all 5 of these elements, you will eventually get tired of losing money and will go out of business.
3. It's all about Location... Location... Location. Not true. It's all about Management... Management... Management. That's not to say location is not important, it's just not as important as some people think. When people first start their search for a restaurant, they focus on the location. Some fixate and obsess about the location because they think without a great location, they won't make it. And if they fail, they might blame it on the location. Rarely do restaurants go out of business because of the location. Think about it, how many times have you seen a location fail only to have someone succeed in the same location. It's not the location, it's the management!
4. It takes a great concept to be successful in the restaurant business. Not true. It takes great execution of that concept to be successful. What you do is not as important as how you do it. If it were that easy, there would be 25 InNOut Burger type restaurants serving avery limited burger only menu. But there is only one In N Out Burger. It's not that In N Out Burger isn't a great concept, it is. It's because what makes In N Out Burger great is their execution. And trends change. Yogurt shops were all the rage once. Great concept but too many people got into that business and didn't execute well and there was a shake out. Same thing happened to the buffet business. Great concept but too many people got into the business and didn't execute well. When was the last time you saw a Fresh Choice or Hometown Buffet? Rotisserie chicken was a great concept once, until Rotisserie chicken became available in every supermarket at a lower price. When was the last time you saw a Kenny Rodgers or a Boston Market? Yogurt Shops, Buffet Restaurants, Rotisserie restaurants- great concepts that are no longer great. Don't focus on the concept. Focus on the execution of the concept.
5. From a financial standpoint, when buying or building a restaurant, the most important measurement is return on investment (ROI) This is a commonly held belief but it's a myth. If you are making money and keep your restaurant for many years, that's fine. But it's best to focus on your break even point and to consider what would your restaurant be worth if you must sell it. When people build a restaurant or buy and remodel it, they are optimistic and thinking of keeping it for many years. But life happens and sometimes you are forced to sell. How much will your restaurant be worth compared to your investment if you must sell? Many people are shocked to find out that their restaurant is only worth a fraction of what they have invested. So many times, I have seen people make large investments in remodeling to insure a great looking facility only to find out that they have invested way too much to recover their investment if they must sell their restaurant. This happens all the time with failing or marginal restaurants. They are rarely worth what it cost to build them. Keep in mind that, generally speaking, if a restaurant is profitable, it might sell for 2 times the adjusted cash flow. And if it is not profitable, it will sell as an "Asset Sale". That can often be a far cry from the investment. When making an investment in a restaurant, focus on the downside not the upside. The upside will take care of itself.
|Helpful Resources To Assist In Selling And Buying California Businesses|
|Mike Brewer: Liquor License Broker, ABC Consulting Service
Liquor license brokerage and consulting services. We provide: Alcohol License Transfers Application Consulting & Processing, Liquor License Purchases & Sales, City Zoning Permits & Land Use Entitlements, Public Convenience or Necessity Findings and Letters. Phone Mike Brewer direct at 800-437-1100.
|Peter Siegel, MBA: Business Purchase Financing Solutions
Niche business purchase financing advisory and loan placement services with SBA and Non-SBA Financing, Retirement Fund Rollover Solutions, Combo Financing Packages. To get professionally pre-qualified or more information on the ProBuy/ProSell Programs: 925-785-3118.
|Prabhjot Randhawa, Broker: SF Bay Area, Central Valley
I'm a Business Advisor at Liberty Business Advisors of San Francisco. I have over 20 years of experience in all phases of entrepreneurship. During the past 15 years my concentration has been in business of mergers and consulting. I have owned and operated over 10 businesses. 209-815-3842 Cell.
|Manjit Singh, Business Broker - SF Bay Area, Central Valley
Assistance in the SF Bay Area & Valley. Contact me about buying or selling a restaurant, liquor store, gas stations, markets, and c-store businesses. If you are looking to buy or sell a SF Bay Area, Central Valley liquor store, market, c-store, restaurant, etc phone me direct at 510-417-9429 Cell.
|Timothy Cunha JD, Business Broker: SF Bay Area
SF Bay Area experienced attorney, & business broker. I & my EvergreenGold team offer owners sound advice & expertise to build business value & achieve profitable sales. For a FREE business evaluation & SWOT analysis for your business call me direct at 650-600-3751, 650-866-5393 Text.
|Jim Saxton, Liquor License Broker & Consultant - SF Bay Area
20 years experience of local governmental requirements, such as Police Departments, Zoning / Planning Departments, and ABC District Offices, my company Liquor Licenses of SF Bay Area is very qualified to resolve all of your concerns during the liquor license transfer process. Call 925-787-0770.
|Steve Zimmerman: Restaurant Broker Specialist, California
Steve founded Restaurant Realty in 1996. He has personally sold/leased over 1000 restaurants, bars & clubs, & completed over 3000 valuations. The author of "Restaurant Dealmaker- An Insider's Trade Secrets For Buying a Restaurant, Bar or Club" available on Amazon. Reach Steve direct at 415-945-9701.
|Mike Nova, Business Broker: North Bay Restaurant, Retail Specialist
I have over 30 years of direct restaurant industry experience, including my personal experience as a restaurant owner. For the last 7 years I have worked as a Broker specializing in this challenging and ever changing field of restaurant and bar sales. Contact me at 510-708-6682 Cell.
|Related Articles, Events, Blog Posts, Discussions, Videos, Interviews|
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|Buying A Restaurant: 5 Myths Restaurant Buyers Should Know About
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|Specialty Restaurant Broker Discusses Liquor Licenses & Working With The ABC
What you will read in this BizBen blog post you will probably not find in any manual or set of instructions provided by the ABC (liquor licenses in California). This blog post by Jeff Back (SF Bay Area Restaurant Broker Specialist) at 925-736-8200 discusses this topic of liquor licenses in detail.
|Liquor License Assistance Consultant - San Francisco Bay Area - Jim Saxton
Jim Saxton - 20 years experience of local governmental requirements, such as Police Departments, Zoning / Planning Departments, ABC District Offices, my company Liquor Licenses of SF Bay Area is very qualified to resolve all of your concerns during the liquor license transfer process. 925-787-0770.