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If you’re opening a new restaurant or expanding your current operations, hiring a restaurant consultant can be a great idea. Restaurant consultants can help your restaurant business in a number of ways:

  • Due to years of experience in the industry, they are well-versed in all things restaurants.
  • They’re another helping hand.
  • A great consultant knows exactly what you need to do to reduce your food and labor costs.
  • They can take over cumbersome tasks, such as filing for and following up on licenses and permits, so that you can focus on the bigger picture.
  • They often know how to create and execute successful restaurants, therefore you increase your restaurants chance of success.
  • A great consultant will have a strong network of industry professionals that they can connect you with. These contacts are invaluable to your business.

When you’re looking for a restaurant consultant, you’ll want to make sure they have a number of important qualities that are vital for your restaurant’s execution and ultimate success.

5 Things to Look For in a Restaurant Consultant

1. Experience

Unlike other industries, restaurant industry experience can’t really be taught. Yes, you can take classes in restaurant management or go to culinary school. However, nothing really teaches you how to manage and execute a successful restaurant like firsthand experience. Nothing can prepare you for all the intricacies involved in running a restaurant, all of the personalities you’ll have to manage, and most of all, the hectic pace of a restaurant.

Furthermore, running a restaurant can vary greatly between states and cities due to different laws, demographics, and cultures. Therefore, the restaurant consultant you choose shouldn’t only have experience running and/or opening a successful restaurant, but they should be experienced doing so in the city you are planning to operate in. This way they will be well versed in all the licenses and permits your restaurant will need, as well as the unique hospitality laws and the type of demographic you are aiming to please.

The more experience a restaurant consultant has, the more they will be able to troubleshoot potential problems and the more likely you will be to open your restaurant with ease. Don’t be afraid to ask for references and make sure you are selecting the most qualified candidate for your restaurant. It’s a big investment, so be sure you’re hiring someone who can give you results.

Restaurant Staff Tablet

2. Personality

You’ll spend many, many hours working with your restaurant consultant, so when you’re looking to hire someone, make sure you like the person and you feel comfortable with them. The right personality in the hospitality industry is someone who is firm and direct, yet likable and pleasant. A consultant will be working with a lot of people and they will represent your restaurant to suppliers, technicians, and staff, so you want to make sure they have a winning personality. If you don’t get a good feeling about a potential consultant, don’t hire them.

You and your restaurant consultant must have a good relationship and effective communication in order to execute your vision, therefore you must make sure that you connect with them. If someone has great reviews and lots of experience, but you don’t vibe with them, it’s best to find someone else. There are often many people to choose from, so make sure you select someone who fits your temperament and most importantly, someone you can effectively work with.  

3. Vision

Every restaurant owner has their own unique vision and concept, which is what sets that restaurant apart from the thousands of other restaurants in the city or town. Your consultant should not only fully understand your vision, but they should stand behind it. If your consultant can’t envision your concept, there is really nothing they can do to help you execute it properly. You and your consultant must be on the same page. This way makes the process smoother, and more efficient and enjoyable.

There is nothing more satisfying than sharing a vision with a team and working as a team to execute it. Once you explain your concept to your consultant, take the time to listen to their response. As you listen, ask yourself, “Does it seem like they understand the vision? Do they support this vision? Are they providing any good ideas about executing this concept?” You have to be really perceptive when you hire a consultant and keyed in to any clues that will tell you if they are the right person for the job.

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4. Cost

You need a good budget if you want to open a restaurant successfully, and unless you have an endless pit of money, you have to consider the cost when hiring a restaurant consultant. Find out what services a consultant provides and what their costs are for those services. If their cost is outside your budget, you can always ask for a discount or you can prioritize which services you need and reduce the cost by reducing the amount of work. Some restaurant consultants will be willing to let you pay them in installments, or find ways to help you budget their services into your operations. Don’t hesitate to let a consultant know what your budget is.

More importantly, you should shop around and do your homework before you select a consultant. You want to make sure you get what you need and a price that won’t make your business suffer.

5. Networks

The restaurant industry is all about solid networks. In this industry, your reputation can make or break you. Having a good reputation and a strong network of professionals will simply make everything easier.

A great consultant will know everyone from the best contractors to the best lawyers and accountants. They will know who’s the best in the city to design your kitchen and have connections in the health department to speed up your permit process. They will have had good experiences in the industry, so contractors and other professionals often offer them the best prices and services. When you hire a consultant, you’re not just getting the person, you’re buying into their network. Don’t be afraid, ask around, find out what their reputation is. A consultant with a strong network can be the best asset to your business.

3 Restaurant Consultants We Love

1. Donald Burns, The Restaurant Coach

Donald Burns is an in-demand restaurant consultant that specializes in leadership, branding, social media marketing, culture, operations, restaurateur mindset, team development, behavioral dynamics, productivity, and peak performance. He is the author of two books, Your Restaurant Sucks!, an international bestseller, and Your Restaurant STILL Sucks! Both books are available on Amazon.

2. Rev Ciancio, Branded Strategic Marketing

Rev is a Senior Marketing, Branding, and Digital Strategist with 20 years of experience in digital marketing and business development, specializing in hospitality marketing, content, and local SEO. He has led many clients to new levels of local, national, and international success in the hospitality, financial service, and entertainment sectors. He is also a former agency owner as well as a former New York City bar owner. You can download his ebook, 6 Recipes for Restaurant Marketing Success, here.

3. Bruce Irving, Smart Pizza Marketing

Bruce Irving runs Smart Pizza Marketing, a full-service digital agency that partners with clients to drive their business outcomes with best-in-class modern video production, media planning and distribution, and influencer marketing. Bruce is also the host of a weekly podcast by the same name, as well as an in-demand keynote speaker and educator.

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Written by   |  
Judith is the head of content for SimpleOrder. SimpleOrder is a fully automated, back-of-the-house management platform designed to optimize and streamline replenishment, reduce waste, cut costs, and increase your revenues. Its 360° cycle integrates and streamlines your kitchen operations from procurement to sales, so you can make more time to focus on all aspects of your restaurant business.
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