Starting a restaurant is both exciting and nerve-wrecking. You have endless possibilities, but there's also the potential for things do go wrong. image of a diner in Illinois

You might have to make a claim on your restaurant insurance policy in the first month. You might find an amazing hostess who treats every customer as if they're her personal friend. One way to reduce the learning curve is to get advice from those who came before you. Here are tips from long-time restaurant owners:

1. Don't Over-Buy Food

It doesn't make sense to save 5% on your food costs when you waste 20% of it. Buy smaller quantities so that you're not throwing away food that goes bad. Set up a plan to use food, rather than waste it. Offer it as meals to employees or give to a food pantry.

2. Hire Slowly

Don't aim to find a warm body to fill a staff position. If the new hire isn't as excited about the opportunity to work at your restaurant, go on to the next candidate. A great employee will earn you far more than you pay them in their salary.

3. Focus On A Specific Customer Demographic

It's not practical to be open for all three meals and into the late evening and serve a wide variety of people. Focus on a certain time of day and customer who you want to serve. You can serve good old home-cooked meals until early afternoon. Or you want a classy, higher end restaurant that's open from five o'clock until midnight, then go that route. Choose one and stick with it.

4. Implement Standards

You might feel that a serving of chicken is five ounces. However, the chef is preparing and serving seven ounces to each customer. This will impact your budget. Create standards in all parts of your business. How to greet the customers, whether to give them water right away, portion sizes, they all count. This helps carry out your vision and every customer gets the same level of service on every visit.

5. Outsource Things You Don't Do Well

Being a Jack of all trades rarely benefits everyone. You might save some money fixing the blocked toilet, but you've given up an hour that could have gone to making connections with your guests. Hiring others to help with outside tasks will save you time and money. A business manager can do payroll, manage restaurant insurance policies, and increase profitability.

Start with these tips, then reach out to others to get their best advice on being a long-term restaurant owner for more best practices.

Also Read: Insuring Your Illinois Restaurant from Top to Bottom

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