Square Point-of-Sale

As those in the hospitality industry will know, opening a restaurant isn’t easy. From coming up with the overall concept, to designing a menu, to selecting your staff and wrapping your head around the day-to-day business needs, there is a broad range of knowledge that is needed to acquire before doors open.

In partnership with Square, we take a deep dive into the need-to-know aspects of launching a restaurant, from the planning stage to its ongoing success.

Restaurant safety and food handling

Before diving into the specifics of opening a restaurant, it’s important to understand the restaurant industry as a whole. Restaurant safety protocols and food handling are top priorities for the industry, so you should understand the ins and outs before you open a restaurant.

To keep customers safe and prevent food-borne illnesses, the restaurant industry is heavily regulated. The key organisation you should be aware of is Food Standards Australia New Zealand, which oversees the Food Standards Code in Australia and New Zealand. This is the code you will have to abide by and maintain throughout the lifespan of your restaurant, so you’ll want to come up with best practices for food safety and restaurant sanitation.

You’ll also need to register as a food business. The specific requirements vary state by state. You can check on the rules for your state via the Australian Institute of Food Safety.

By familiarising yourself with regulations, obtaining specific industry-related licenses and adhering to the basic food safety procedures, you can keep your reputation intact and your customers out of harm’s way. You may also want to consult an expert, who can help you to navigate the various laws and regulations that might apply based on your specific needs and location.

Costs of opening and running a restaurant

Most restaurant owners wonder how much money they need to start a restaurant. There’s no one-size-fits-all answer for this question. Restaurant costs are dependent on various factors including:

  • Size of restaurant
  • Type of restaurant
  • Number of staff
  • Location

Starting a restaurant is usually an expensive proposition. Incorrect forecasts and budgeting are a major reason why restaurants fail. Avoid these situations by learning what costs you can expect and how to keep costs low so you can forecast a realistic budget.

Taking payments from customers

Making your first sale is an exciting milestone when you first start a restaurant, and it should be a seamless experience that first time, and every time after. To do that, you need to choose a payments hardware solution and point-of-sale (POS) software.

A payments system (hardware and software) handles credit and debit card transactions for your business. You want to look for a payments system that accepts all major credit cards (Visa, eftpos, Mastercard and Amex), has one consistent rate (with no hidden fees), and quick deposit times.

An intuitive point-of-sale system lets you get started taking payments quickly, and it can also grow with your restaurant (and help it grow). An integrated restaurant point of sale not only lets you accept all types of payments — including chip and PIN and Apple Pay — but also it can help you run your entire restaurant more efficiently.

A restaurant POS system such as Square for Restaurants can help you with:

  • Inventory tracking to better forecast ingredients and supplies
  • Built-in tipping that substantially increases tip flow
  • Automatic tip reconciliation
  • Menu adjustments to include modifiers and other requests
  • Employee time cards that easily track hours worked
  • Data analytics that give you better insight to make decisions
  • Immediate customer insights and feedback

Outdated, slow POS systems can really hurt your sales, so it’s important to invest in capabilities that are quick for your customers, easy to use for your employees and efficient for your restaurant overall. An integrated POS puts all your information — from sales and inventory to employee timecards — in one view, significantly improving organisation and the ability to make better decisions.

Look for a system with an integrated EFTPOS machine, allowing you to take payments quickly without having to manually enter the transaction amount each time.

Building your restaurant brand

Branding your business is an essential part of opening a restaurant, and it can play a major role in your future expansion and growth. Your brand is what distinguishes you from your competition. It’s what makes your restaurant stand out and can often be the deciding factor for diners in an environment with endless options.

Creating and marketing your restaurant brand can be done in many ways – from creating a strong social media presence, to designing a logo that can be applied to all physical and digital platforms you use, to holding a soft launch for opening and crafting a mission statement that positions your restaurant within the wider industry.

Your restaurant brand should be consistent and should be used anywhere your restaurant is visible to the public – including online ordering platforms and within the venue itself.

An avenue that is becoming increasingly important in restaurant branding is multi-channel marketing.

Online orders are now more important than ever for the success of any hospitality business, which means that maintaining a consistent brand online is crucial.

As well as point-of-sale systems with comprehensive and customisable services for restaurants, Square customers have access to their own consolidated multi-channel ordering. This includes your own digital menu that is easily and directly available from your My Google Business listing.

Through these services, your customers are given the option to choose from a variety of different ordering options. This in turn increases their chances of finding your business online.

Clear and memorable branding, coupled with easy customer access and seamless service, will help you to establish a loyal and identifiable customer base, therefore contributing to the ongoing success of your restaurant business.

Emerging restaurant tech trends

Restaurant owners are responsible for staying ahead of trends in the restaurant industry, but that doesn’t just entail the latest food fads. Technology helps restaurants provide the ultimate customer experience and is becoming a more prominent part of the industry. Here are a few emerging restaurant trends to take into consideration.

Immediate customer feedback: Incorporating feedback through tools such as Square’s Customer Feedback feature into the dining experience allows customers to rate their experience through their digital receipt. This gives your restaurant the real-time data needed for continuous improvement. Feedback is one of several customer engagement features that allow restaurant owners to get a better understanding of what their customers want.

Accepting mobile wallets: Mobile wallets such as Apple Pay have become increasingly popular and are shaping the future of payments. Some of the key benefits of accepting mobile wallets include increased security, speed and convenience.

Tableside tablets: As the restaurant industry continues to explore automation, there’s a spike in interest around tableside ordering tablets and QR codes placed on tables. Square’s self-serve ordering system allows diners to use a QR code to order food and drinks as well as pay for their meal while limiting in-person contact.

The million-dollar question every aspiring restaurant owner asks: Will my restaurant be successful?

Opening a restaurant is an intricate process that requires dedication and commitment, and questioning your decision to embark on this rigorous journey is completely normal.

At the end of the day, resilience is key. And by following the above rules, you’ll give yourself a better chance at making a good impression with your first-time customers, which will keep them coming back for more.