Fast food is frictionless food. The key to success in the quick-service restaurant industry is to remove all the barriers between a customer’s hunger and a satisfying meal. That means providing a menu that’s both tempting and instantly accessible, giving customers the power to indulge any passing food fancy while also painlessly wrapping up the transaction without any thought to the underlying business management mechanics.
Setting up a fast food business from scratch allows you to build those integrated processes into your system from Day One so that you can maximize value. To help you get things right from the start, we’ve gathered the best pieces of fast food advice we’ve encountered over our years of supporting startup restaurateurs.
10 Necessities for Setting Up a Fast Food Business
There are some personal decisions you’ll have to make as you launch a successful fast food business—the perfect name and the right location, for example, are critical. However, much of the rest of the equation involves experience and solid practice advice. The following 10 tips for setting up a fast food restaurant will guide you through the key steps to making the most of your fast food talents.
- Get the Legalities Right
There are a host of legal responsibilities you have to fulfill before you ever open your restaurant doors. The business basics of forming a legal entity, registering your name, registering for taxes, achieving food and beverage accreditations, and much more must be in place before you even think about turning on your grill.
Seek personal, professional advice before you attempt any of these tasks, because even minor errors can have unforeseen and expensive consequences.
- Set Up Your Financials
Cash flow is going to become one of the buzzwords of your early days in business. You’re going to need what can feel like a torrent rather than a flow of money to get things moving. Your regular necessities of staff, supplies, rent, and utilities begin from Day One and stay with you throughout your career.
To meet these needs, you’ll want to set up a line of credit, business expense accounts and cards, and a sound working relationship with a financial institution. You’re the customer in this relationship, so make sure you shop around to find the perfect fit for the way you want to run your restaurant.
- Establish a Payment Platform
Always remember that fast food is frictionless food. No one wants to interrupt their experience with awkward negotiations around settling the bill. However, the sheer range of payment types now used by customers to navigate the in-store and online worlds can seem daunting to the first-time restaurateur. Your point of sale (POS) system has to account for those who still use cash as well as savvier digital natives who want contactless cards, mobile interfaces, and smartphone app systems.
Your POS solution needs to accommodate as many of these options as possible within a minimum of hardware. Your POS system should be institution agnostic as well, so you can take advantage of the best transaction and contract deals.
- DIY Your Accounts
The same POS system that handles your payment options can also act as the hub for all your financials. Setting up a fast food business for success means being able to accurately and efficiently track every dollar you spend. You need a digital solution that can link inventory with sales and waste, and help you manage your supplier relationships—additional niche actions, such as invoicing, can be integrated through third-party connections.
- Use Data Science from Day One
All that financial information whizzing around your POS hub can be converted to significant insights into how your business works. Data science is no longer the domain of the biggest fast food chains, and cutting-edge features are included in many subscription POS systems.
Using the information already contained in your system, you can account for the value of every dollar you spend, tracking the efficiency of ingredients, the performance of marketing campaigns, and the performance of every member of staff.
- Take Your Staff Management Online
Your staff are one of your most important business partners and you should promote the growth of trusting relationships with your leading talents. If you invest in a cloud-based POS system, you can empower your staff to manage their own rosters, HR requirements, and even training online. Of course, you should be able to assign and delegate responsibilities in a dynamic environment in order to keep everyone safe and secure, but that should take nothing more than the right password authorizations.
- Perfect Your Online Presence
Every fast food outlet needs an online presence, even if you have no plans to fulfill internet orders or deliveries—although the additional revenue stream is clearly worth considering. A quality website is a great way of starting a conversation with potential customers, introducing your theme, your menu, and your atmosphere to anyone with access to a smartphone, which these days is just about everyone! Many POS system providers will guide you through the construction of an impressive site and build its maintenance into your subscription.
- Capitalize on Loyalty Program Incentives
Loyalty programs are the promise of something extra with every transaction that can give your restaurant unique character. They’re an effective way of encouraging potential regulars to make your destination a permanent part of their routine. Setting up a fast food business loyalty program can be incorporated into your overall POS hub and the resulting sales and expenditure included in your data science process along with your regular inventory.
- Make Your Menu Flexible
The POS system that sits at the heart of your fast food service should be powerful enough to make your menu a variable, flexible, customer-pleasing tool. It should allow you to meet and exceed your diners’ expectations by allowing you to add and remove ingredients, bundle items together into unique meal deals, and communicate all these changes to both your kitchen and your backroom inventory.
- Manage Every Table and Every Ticket from the Same System
As we said at the top, setting up a fast food business for success begins with creating a streamlined, efficient flow of information around the entire enterprise. During service, your customers need to understand what’s available, their requests need to be easily recorded by your front-of-house staff, and, finally, every detail needs to be accurately passed on to your kitchen.
Setting Up Your Fast Food Business For Success Means Integrating the Best POS
Only a digital POS system can handle that flow from multiple points, both online and in-store, and keep everything in easy-to-understand, highly visual, and efficiently organized standards to maximize every service.
Success in fast food depends on the frictionless flow of information that turns a whim into a satisfying snack and a real hunger into a rewarding meal.
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