For most startup restaurants, surviving the first year of operation is usually a sign of possible long-term profitability. Pho restaurants are no exception. It is important to hit the ground running with as little missteps as possible.
From personal experience launching my own pho restaurant concept and helping others opening and running their own pho restaurants, I've learnt many valuable lessons along the way about what work and does not work in a pho restaurant's early days. While I can't give you luck, I can definitely help you take action to increase your chance for success.
Here are five important lessons that will help future pho restaurant owners.
Have A Flexible Plan
A startup business must have a solid business plan. But that's only a start. More critically, the business plan needs to be flexible. With fast moving technology, competition and customer tastes, you and your plan need to be nimble and flexible. You want to be ready to continuously make adjustments and improvements to your concept to head off outside challenges. The net benefit is, if you do this regularly and consistently and make it a part of your operation, you can even lead the market as a result.
Create Attractive Environment For Both Employees And Customers
Your pho restaurant is both a place for customers to come enjoy your food and a place for employees to come and work. Making a restaurant a pleasant place that both customers and employees want to come regularly is not difficult. In fact most of it is actually just common sense. At the most basic level is making sure you have a strong culture of service, respect, decency and empathy when dealing with people. Start with
- Being appreciative of everyone walking through your front door and giving the best service you can provide him/her, and
- Being appreciative of everyone walking through your back door and giving them all the training and tools they need to become successful.
Serve Every Customer
Once you understand 2. above, both you and your team need to pay all your attention to serve every customer, and serve him/her the same consistent way every time. Proper customer service is an enormous subject matter, but for the purpose of this list I'd start with the following. It's all about impressions (what customers think before receiving your service) and their take-way emotions (what customers feel after leaving your pho restaurant). Both impressions and emotions exist in all of these 4 stages:
- When you attract them to try your business (from outside your business),
- When they are in your space and making a purchase/order of your food,
- When they are enjoying (or not enjoying) your food, service and environment, and
- When they leave your space.
Get these right and you're already way ahead of your competition.
Be Ready And Willing To Rebrand
It is true that no 2 restaurants are exactly the same, even for many franchised operations. For small operator this is especially true. You can never be sure of your market and customer base until after grand opening, and possibly months beyond. This doesn't mean I'm suggesting to just open then figure things out. Far from it. You still must do all the planning, analysis, design of your pho restaurant before you open. The purpose of all this is to keep you from having to make too many changes after opening. The more right you are before opening, the less changes you have to make after.
But the world is not perfect, and all restaurants go through adjustment periods after opening their doors for business. When done right, customers shouldn't even know or see the changes, but they will notice continued/better service and consistently delicious food. So understand your concept real well, and look for signs and messages of what your customers are telling you, then make adjustments (up to and including rebranding) to give them what they want.
Build Relationship With Your Local Community
By definition, a pho restaurant (or any restaurant business) is a local business. Local to where they are located. As such, your restaurant business needs the local community to succeed. This is a powerful knowledge and realization (if one hasn't thought much about it), and it should cause a lightbulb going off in your head. There are so many opportunities a pho restaurant can grab when actively taking part in the community.
Detailed discussion of this subject is really for another post, but it should suffice to say that reaching out to the local community before, during and after you open your pho restaurant will do a lot of good for your business. So make sure you build "local" and "community" as an inherent part of your concept and operation, then make real connections with the community, and reap the rewards that a community can give a local business.
To find out how I can help you open your own pho restaurant, or improve your existing operation, please use the form on the Pho Restaurant Consultation page.