Latino restaurant owner requests a loan
Jordan Schneir
By: jordan_shneir
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Restaurant business plan: A short guide on how to start

A restaurant business plan is something you need to have if you want to open a restaurant for the first time.

Every business requires a lot of planning and strategizing to be successful. Restaurants are no exception.

Preparing a business plan for your restaurant will help guide you as you continue to operate and grow your business in the future.

It will help you understand your target market’s competition and access better opportunities to succeed in such a competitive industry.

Let’s look at why you need a restaurant business plan and how you can write your own.

Happy couple starting their restaurant business

What is a business plan for a restaurant?

Essentially, a restaurant business plan is simply a guide for how you plan to run your business and how you will make your business succeed.

A business plan is a written document that describes an organization’s current and future operations. It includes mission, objectives, strategies, and action plans.

A business plan should be specific enough for investors to make informed decisions and suggest what options they would like to see to improve their vision and performance.

What goes into a restaurant business plan?

A restaurant business plan will include important information, such as:

  • The type of restaurant you will run
  • Who your competition is
  • What is your mission statement
  • Who your target audience is
  • How do you plan to stand out from your competition
  • Your finances
  • Your funding needs
  • And more

A business plan outlines the most important aspects of your business to prepare for the future.

Why do you need a restaurant business plan?

A restaurant business plan can help determine whether or not it would be profitable to open the restaurant in the first place.

If so, it will help you decide where to locate your restaurant, what type of food you will serve, how much to invest in the restaurant, and more.

Restaurants need business plans for several important reasons, including:

  • Finding Your Market: A business plan will help you identify your target audience to cater to your customers’ needs in the area and their specific likes.
  • Goals: Your business plan will help you establish future milestones. For example, maybe you’d like to start a food truck in the future to compliment your restaurant, or perhaps you would like to open a second location. Your business plan would help you outline this goal.
  • Financing: Lenders will often need your business plan before approving your application. A solid business plan will help you get the funding you need to grow your restaurant.
  • Competition: Your business plan will help you make a plan to stand out against your largest competitors.

As your restaurant grows and accomplishes new milestones, you will consistently rely on your business plan to guide your decisions.

Infographic about main benefits of a restaurant business plan

Do you have a food truck? Then check out how to write a food truck business plan.

How to write a restaurant business plan?

Preparing a restaurant business plan is easier than you might think.

Follow these steps to get started on your restaurant business plan today.

Restaurant executive summary

Nearly every business plan starts with an executive summary.

The executive summary provides potential investors and financiers with a snapshot of the proposed business plan.

This section should be brief and concise, outlining revenues, operating costs, and capital requirements.

The executive summary also tells you why the restaurant will succeed in your market or niche, giving specific details on how you aim to attract customers and make money.

This is where you explain:

  • What is your business?
  • What type of restaurant do you plan to be (i.e., casual, fine dining, ethnic, etc.).
  • What kind of food do you serve?
  • What services do you offer?
  • Where you operate your restaurant

This section should be brief but should still give a clear overview of what your restaurant is all about. The executive summary attempts to summarize the business plan concisely and compellingly.

You should write this part so that anyone can understand the basics of the restaurant’s operations and financial projections by reading this section alone, without reading the entire document.

This means that it must include all crucial information about staffing needs and the overall return on investment.

Restaurant description

Your restaurant description should essentially be a more in-depth version of your executive summary.

How do you fill a gap in the market? How will your restaurant succeed? Who is your target audience?

The first impression you want to give your guests leaves them feeling like they’ve entered an intimate dining room.

The description should do just this, starting with the restaurant’s name and location, before going into more detail about who will be running things behind-the-scenes and what experience each owner brings to their new venture. There’s also contact information so people can reach out if needed.

You should also discuss your pricing, how your pricing compares to other restaurants, and similar information. This section should clarify how your restaurant is different from your competitors.

This is an excellent opportunity to provide some information about the legal organization. For example, if you are starting up as an individual business owner, it would be wise for yourself or other owners in your LLC to protect themselves from personal liability.

And possible investors may also want more knowledge on how these business models operate before investing time into hiring one.

Apply For A Business Loan!

Market research for restaurant business plan

Every successful business needs to perform thorough market research, and restaurants are no exception.

Research is a form of market analysis that requires you to collect data from individuals at the target location(s) or their online equivalents.

On the other hand, research involves collecting data from websites, articles, industry reports, company reports, case studies, and other reference materials that may have information on the restaurant business segment.

Restaurant market segments are vital for new restaurant businesses as they provide quantitative data and help you understand your proposed customers better.

In this section, you should outline:

  • Who your audience is (a description of your typical customers)
  • How you can satisfy your customers’ needs
  • Who your competition is (similar restaurants in the area)
  • Where your ideal location would be
  • Your restaurant’s growth potential
  • And more

Essentially, this section should explain the current market state in your area and how your restaurant fills a gap in this market. Marketing research is a critical step in developing a profitable restaurant business plan.

It helps you determine the demand for your proposed restaurant, set a price point, and identify other critical aspects of your operations such as location, menu, etc.

Marketing plan for your restaurant

A restaurant business plan can help you define market opportunities and create a better product, service, or concept to serve your customers’ needs.

Restaurants rely on successful marketing strategies to succeed in that competitive industry.

The marketing section of your business plan should include:

  • Social media marketing strategies
  • Restaurant promotions
  • Your website
  • Your restaurant’s design
  • Your menu design
  • Other marketing materials

Some restaurants market themselves by providing excellent customer service and a great product at a great price. Restaurant business plans should include all three methods of marketing to be successful.

Restaurant marketing plans provide information on who will buy your product/service and how much they are willing to pay for them. Also, these marketing plans include strategies for promoting and selling your restaurant business.

Business operations plan

The operations plan should be an integral part of your restaurant business plan. It is a step-by-step guide to working efficiently and ensuring the right person covers all aspects of operations at the right time.

This section is where you describe business hours, what days of the year the restaurant is closed, how many employees you currently have, plan to hire, what equipment you need, and more.

It would help if you also went over your restaurant’s benefits, such as its convenient location.

A business operations plan for a restaurant generally does it to run and operate your restaurant effectively successfully.

Restaurant business plans exist to help you forecast expenses, set goals, create staff schedules, monitor how well your business is doing financially, and attract more customers by increasing advertising.

The restaurant operations plan should include:

  1. Scheduling
  2. Staff rotation
  3. Scheduled breaks
  4. Restaurant tasks
  5. Business equipment
  6. Restaurant supplies
  7. Restaurant cleaning
  8. Business maintenance

Happy man in the kitchen of his restaurant

Restaurant management plan

This section of a restaurant business plan allows you to demonstrate to investors that you have a plan in place for your restaurant to operate effectively.

The primary purpose of the restaurant management part of the business plan is to describe how your employees will realize this plan.

The management section should cover topics related to your restaurant business plan. Including the context you are operating, how you work with people, power, and resources.

Restaurant management involves the responsibility of hiring, training, and supervising staff and ensuring that they can carry out their tasks to a high level.

Restaurant managers also need to possess good communication skills to liaise with customers and deal with complaints.

You should explain:

  • Who is at the head of the company
  • Who the executive chef is
  • The management team hierarchy
  • Who reports to who
  • Why each person is important

This section may be reasonably brief, depending on the size of your restaurant.

Financial planning for restaurant business

The financial part of a restaurant business plan includes the income statement, cash flow projection, and balance sheet.

This is where you outline your restaurant’s finances, including:

This section is essential when presenting your business plan to investors or lenders. So, be sure to give a thorough overview of your restaurant’s financials.

The financial plan should show whether the business will generate enough cash to service its debt obligations and maintain a comfortable level of liquidity.

These metrics are helpful as they enable you to compare your restaurant performances with those of other similar establishments.

Funding

A good restaurant business plan should cover the financing aspect and describe how much money you will need and what you will use it for.

Most restaurants need funding to acquire new equipment, renovate, increase the staff or expand to a second location.

Restaurant owners need to create a written budget that reflects all their financial risks and opportunities.

In this section, you should go over:

  • How much money do you need now
  • How much money you may need in the future
  • What do you need funding for
  • How funding will contribute to restaurant growth
  • How do you plan to repay your lenders

Many lenders will need this information before approving your application, so it’s essential to be clear about your funding needs when preparing your business plan. This is an outline for potential investors on how the company plans to use funds.

Learn here how to get a business loan for your restaurant.

Appendix

The appendix is where you can include any supplemental information that may not fit into the other sections of your business plan.

This could include:

  • A sample menu
  • Branding ideas
  • Expansion floor plans
  • Pictures of your restaurant
  • Other information

These nine steps are a great way to get started on an effective business plan for your restaurant.

After reviewing the categories and the restaurant business plan examples, you can use the types to make a restaurant business plan template and start your journey.

Ready to prepare your own restaurant business plan? We invite you to use this business plan builder from Bplans.

Group of people celebrating the opening of their new restaurant

Consider a Camino Financial to grow your restaurant

One of the most critical sections in your restaurant business plan is the ‘funding’ section.

This section is where you will identify how much funding you need, what you need the funding for, and how much money you can afford to borrow.

To help you prepare this section, be sure to use Camino Financial’s business loan calculator. This tool will help you determine how much financing you can afford to take out. Also, know how much your monthly payments would be and the total cost of your potential loan.

Once you identify how much funding you need, it’s time to consider applying for a business loan.

At Camino Financial, we offer small business loans with excellent terms to help restaurants get the money they need to succeed.

Over the years, we have specialized in the restaurant industry, and we have helped many restaurant business owners like you access the capital they need to grow their companies.

We know the ins and outs of your industry and will make sure to receive the best funding option that matches your needs and goals.

We genuinely believe in our motto, “No business left behind,” and, as a result, our business loans offer flexible requirements and fast approval times.

When you apply for a business loan with us, you don’t even need a restaurant business plan, but remember that having one in place is always a great way to guide your restaurant into the future.

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