10 Best Practices for Picking the Perfect Restaurant Location for your

Why your restaurant’s location matters ?


Location, location, #location. Choosing the right restaurant location is one of the most important decisions you can make when opening your business. 

Location is even more important if you’re starting a quick-service restaurant, whose customers put a premium on convenience. But what makes a good location for a restaurant?

Why your restaurant’s location matters

Build it and they will come – right? Not necessarily. Unless you’re a celebrity chef with name recognition, people may not flock to your restaurant from far and wide. That’s just part of the reason location is paramount when starting your food business.

First, your restaurant’s location can help you attract customers. A prominent location, like a town center crawling with pedestrians or a strip mall next to a busy road, serves as a built-in marketing tool. Passersby will notice your shopfront or sign as they visit a neighboring business or just pass through. 

While a location off the beaten path won’t necessarily doom your business, it does mean you’ll have to work harder and spend more on marketing to gain customers. A prominent location, on the other hand, helps customers find you without even looking.

Second, a good restaurant location can make it easier for you to reach customers for deliveries. With more and more restaurants offering delivery, and even operating as ghost kitchens, a central location will let you harness this increasingly important revenue stream. Centrally located restaurants are poised to deliver to more people, in less time.

The right location for your restaurant will help customers find you, and help your business reach customers. Now read on to learn how to find that sweet spot.

 

 

10 tips for choosing the right restaurant location

While there’s no surefire way to guarantee success in the restaurant industry, where you operate your business can have a huge impact on sales. These are our top tips for choosing the best location for your restaurant.

1. Check zoning laws

First things first: make sure your ideal space is zoned for a restaurant. And, if adult drinks are part of your restaurant’s concept, check whether you’ll be permitted to serve alcohol at that site.

2. Think about your target customers

Consider your market when choosing the location for your restaurant startup. Will you be able to reach your ideal customer in the space you’ve selected?

For example, a fast food restaurant catering to kids would be best suited to a suburban area with lots of families. A pizza slice shop targeting young adults hungry after a long night out should be in proximity to popular nightlife spots. And a build-your-own bowl targeting urban professionals would do well to set up shop in a city’s corporate district.

3. Consider foot and car traffic

While the location of your restaurant won’t make up for poor service or mediocre food, it can get the attention of new customers. To attract first-time customers, your restaurant should be located somewhere with plenty of car or foot traffic.The more people who pass by your restaurant, the greater your chances of attracting newcomers. Having an eye-catching sign or display will help.

But remember: once new customers stop in thanks to your restaurant’s location, it’s your job to keep them coming back

4. Out of sight, out of mind

Testing your customers’ line of sight to your restaurant should be an essential part of your restaurant location analysis. Potential customers should be able to see your venue from the street. While strategic signage may help customers with way finding, signs alone may not be as enticing as a glimpse of your patio or your menu options.

If you choose an indoor location, such as within a food court, focus your efforts on marketing to ensure customers see your restaurant as a destination. List your restaurant’s location on Google Maps and employ other digital marketing efforts to help customers find your restaurant, no matter what.

5. Keep accessibility top of mind 

In addition to being able to easily see your restaurant, customers should also be able to easily reach your restaurant. 

If you want to establish your business in an area that will require travel by car, make sure the space has ample parking nearby. If you want to locate your restaurant in a pedestrian-friendly area, make sure there are public transportation lines nearby. 

After you nail down your space, make it accessible to customers with all kinds of abilities and disabilities.

The 10 Most Important Restaurant Survey Questions

 

6. Costs for a premium restaurant location

Premium locations will come with premium costs. If you can’t afford a space in the location you desire, get creative. 

Compromise by getting a venue in a nearby but up and coming area, and dedicate the money you save on rent to marketing. With time, your second choice neighborhood could even become prime real estate.

For a restaurant startup, the best location may be no location at all – especially when considering startup costs. Consider opening a pop-up or mobile business (like a food truck or cart) to test your concept, build buzz (aided by a grand opening), and then move to a more affordable location. 

7. Study space turnover

Everyone knows that street or strip mall in their town in which businesses seem to open and close every few months. While the location of these spots may seem ideal, there’s usually a reason why so many businesses start and fail there. Don’t take a chance on a commercial space in which so many other businesses have tried and failed. 

If you’re considering an area you’re unfamiliar with for your restaurant’s location, take your time and do your research. Visit the area over a period of several months or years to monitor turnover. Ask locals and other business owners about the area before committing to a space.

8. Avoid competition

Avoid building your restaurant near a restaurant that’s in direct competition with yours. Yes, there is a chance that your shop will drive the neighboring one out of business, but you’ll have to work even harder to win that shop’s customers and keep them from returning to their long-standing favorite. 

Scout the neighborhood and read industry news to keep an eye on upcoming openings to avoid doubling up on a concept. Sometimes, the best location for your restaurant is completely relative.

9. Look for complementary nearby businesses

While direct competition is bad, some nearby businesses can help drive customers to your restaurant. For example, a smoothie shop would see high sales stationed next to a gym. A coffee shop would be a gold mine next to a university library. 

10. Consider setting up shop at a collective venue

Standalone business comes with advantages like visibility, but being part of a collective, like a food hall or a food truck park, grants you opportunities for extra promotion and traffic. Your business will have a captive audience of hungry people who are visiting other stands in the venue. And, as long as each business provides complementary products, you all benefit from cross exposure to one other’s customers.

With these 10 steps, you can feel confident you’ve done a thorough restaurant location analysis and are ready to choose the place to start your small business

How To Make Your Business Quite Successful

Or are you having trouble choosing business goals to work toward this year in the first place? Every entrepreneur wants to own a successful and profitable business, but it’s not always clear how to get there.

If you want your small business to be more profitable than ever before, here are some suggestions for how to make it happen. And remember: Building a successful business is a marathon, not a sprint.

Focus on Customer Service

Close-up of a customer's hand about to ring counter service bell
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According to a study by New Voice Media, 51% of customers will not repeat business with a company after a bad service experience. Other studies have shown that it takes several positive customer experiences to make up for one negative one.

Given that loyal customers make a much easier sell, make good customer service a priority. Examine your current customer service and make the changes that need to be made to ensure that your small business is providing service superior to that of your competitors. You may need to invest in staff training, revamp your return policy, or make basic improvements such as responding promptly to voicemails or emails from customers.

 
 
 

Build Word of Mouth for Your Business

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Tom Gufler

Whether you operate your business in a small community or in a large urban center, word of mouth is more important than ever. Most consumers turn to the net to search for reviews of businesses before deciding where to shop, so building a good reputation is vital to the success of your business.

How do you get positive word of mouth? By providing good, professional service, building and monitoring your local (and online) reputation, and gaining publicity by giving back to your community through your support and sponsorship of local organizations and charities.

 
 
 

Expand Your Marketing Efforts

50% off sale sign in shop window
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Effective marketing is key to increasing your sales, but you don’t have to break the bank to promote your business. There are many inexpensive ways to market your products and services, including:

  • Creating and using a promotion kit
  • Sending out promotions with your invoices
  • Joining professional organizations
  • Involving the newspapers in your grand openings, moves, or charity events
  • Giving free workshops or classes related to your products or services
  • Developing business partnerships and doing cross-promotion with complementary businesses
  • Cold calling (yes it can still work)
  • Advertising your business on your vehicle with a vehicle wrap
 
 
 

Build Your Online Presence

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Creating a professional-looking website can be quick and easy nowadays, and your small business needs to be in the online space. Research from the E-commerce Wiki indicates that 88% of consumers now research purchases online before purchasing in a store.

A simple website that describes who you are, what you do, and how to contact you will suffice for many small businesses. At a minimum, your site should contain:

  • Your logo
  • Your business name
  • A summary of what you do—your products and services
  • Your contact information
  • Your address, including a Google Maps link
  • Your mission, e.g. “We make the best pizza in town…”
  • Testimonials from customers

Depending on your target market, social media can be a great way to promote your business as well. Establishing a presence on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram is standard for most businesses these days.

 
 
 

Cut Your Business Costs

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Business costs for everything from office space to vehicle expenses seem to always be on the rise, so keeping expenses in check is a crucial task for business owners. 

Keeping track of expenses is ​time-consuming and tedious, so wherever possible try using new technology to make the job as easy as possible. For example, there are a number of mobile apps for expense tracking, including many cloud-based accounting applications that allow you to automatically add expense information into your accounting system by snapping pictures of receipts with your mobile device.

Conduct annual or even semi-annual reviews of your major expenses, such as office space, business insurance, staffing, and vehicle expenses. Where can you trim? If you are in an area with an abundance of available commercial space, perhaps you could think about relocating. If you don’t even need a storefront, you could convert to a home-based business. 

Review your major supply costs regularly and always look for discounts or ways to pool supply purchases with other businesses to save money. Make reducing expenses part of your job description and company culture.

 
 
 

Go Mobile

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If you do nothing else with mobile technology this year, you need to make sure that your online presence, including your business website, is mobile friendly. Increasing numbers of people are surfing and searching with their phones—even when they’re at home.

But there are two other trends that could benefit your small business. The first is mobile marketing. There are myriad mobile-specific strategies you could be using to reach your target market with great effect, from text message advertising and mobile display ads to having your own business app designed.

Mobile payment systems represent your other opportunity. Apple Pay, Google Wallet, Venmo, Square, Intuit GoPayment, Paypal—the choices for paying by phone are now endless. Offering pay-by-phone services is a significant convenience to customers, but your small business could also realize considerable savings from being able to use a ​mobile POS system.

 
 
 

Get in the Cloud

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There is no doubt that cloud computing has leveled the playing field for startup businesses, but the serious advantages of using the cloud for “ordinary” established businesses is not always discussed.

Cost savings and access from anywhere are the biggest advantages to moving some of your business processes to the cloud. If, for instance, your business changes from a desktop small-business accounting program to a cloud-based accounting application, you would no longer have to install desktop software (saving IT costs for installation, backups, updates, etc.) and you can access your business accounts from anywhere, including from mobile devices.

There are some disadvantages to cloud computing, of course, but if you haven’t started using cloud storage and applications yet, make this the year that you at least investigate its potential.

 
 
 

Find and Keep the Right Employees

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Attracting and retaining the right employees is one of the most important things you can do with your business. While hiring and training employees every other week might be business as usual for a fast-food restaurant, most successful businesses rely on hiring quality staff and keeping them for the long term.

 
 
 

Update Your Business Plan

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You did make a business plan before starting your business, right? A business plan is vital for startup businesses for many reasons, including testing the viability of your business idea and securing debt or equity financing.

If you haven’t made one, it’s not too late. Successful, established businesses update their business plan annually to review accomplishments (or lack thereof) and decide on new goals or directions. 

The financial health of your business is summarized by the income statement, the cash flow projection, and the balance sheet, which are contained in the financial section of the business plan. From there you can determine ways to make your business more profitable by increasing sales, reducing losses, or cutting expenses. If you want your business to be more successful, you need a plan for how to get there.

 
 
 

Stay Balanced

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No one goes to the grave wishing they had spent more time in the office. Too many business owners sacrifice their mental and physical health, family relationships, and friends in pursuit of their business goals.

Don’t be one of them—find an acceptable level of work-life balance. Getting enough sleep, taking time for family and friends, and getting regular exercise will help you stay healthy and allow you and your business to prosper over the long term.