If you’ve got passion and drive to start a business in the hospitality industry, then why not get started? Many entrepreneurs target this type of business because it is customer facing. You can immediately identify what is working and pleasing to the customer. You can also see immediately what isn’t working. Best of all you get feedback face to face. While this kind of work is ideally suited to a ‘people person’, anyone can get started and make it work. Of course, there are a few things you need to do before that all-important launch:
The Big Idea
Hospitality is a huge industry and is worth billions of dollars. Where will you fit in? What is your big idea? You might choose to produce and sell smoothies. But where will you sell them? Are you going to be a street vendor or will you have a smoothie bar in the city center? The logistics of your business idea might determine the premises required. After all, you’ll need to power your ice machine and your blender. If you sell hot food, you’ll need power for the oven or stove. And food will need to be stored safely in a refrigerator.
Jot down all of your ideas, and try to narrow them down to three or four that really interest you. Consider the working conditions, and the initial outlay for equipment, vans, or premises. Now you need to do your research. Find out who is already in your local area providing a similar service. Is there a gap in the market you can fill by choosing different products, or a different place to market? Once you refined your business proposition, you’re ready to start figuring out the finer details.
Make sure you are qualified to work in the food and drinks industry. There are many food hygiene, health and safety, and alcohol permits to apply for. The easiest way to find out what you need is to talk to your local government office. They will be able to steer toward the right department to manage your applications. The certification you need will vary from place to place. Make sure you have the right licenses for your local area.
If you’re new to the business world, you might find it quite difficult to raise funds from a lender like a bank. You can try crowdfunding a product (via Kickstarter or Indiegogo) that would benefit the type of people who often visit those kinds of websites. You might also be able to find business partners willing to take a share of your business. In all of these cases, you must have a detailed business plan and proposal. You must prove your qualification and experience is relevant to make this business work.
Premises and Equipment
The hospitality industry relies on fit for purposes premises that attract the type of customer you’re catering for. If you want to sell home-made ice-cream, your customers will need a family-friendly diner-style venue. You might need to consider how the kids that come in can be entertained while they’re there. Of course, if you’re producing and selling ales and beers, then an adults-only bar with music and sports screens might be more appropriate.
Of course, you will also need the equipment to produce the food and drink you are selling. All of this needs to be in place and working before you can launch. It might also need to be inspected by your local authority, so allow time for this. Training for use may also be required for your employees. Finally, you need to put your brand on the door. Your business name is only half of it. The rest is in the font, colors, and other design elements.
You should have a website up and running before your launch event. This is the first thing people will look for when they receive their invitation or opening notification. Set up your social media pages, and start posting to your website every day. If you’re selling pizzas, talk about the health benefits of some of the toppings. If you’re opening a milkshake bar, talk about the farms where you source the milk. There are plenty of relevant topics you can choose from.
Remember, you’re in the hospitality business. Your bar or restaurant should be about a pleasant experience as much as good food or drink. Make sure that brand message is present in all your adverts and campaigns. Make people feel welcome from the moment you open your doors. Don’t forget to offer customers a great reason to come back again soon.