Are you thinking of starting your own restaurant? David Arkin, co-founder of the growing independent chain Arancini Brothers shares his learnings and insights.
1. Sample and tweak the menu
If you’re bringing new or fairly well-known food to the market – do sampling at markets and festivals to educate and convince customers. Also (and this is important), be prepared to change and update your dishes and the way you’re serving them – according to your customers’ preferences. After listening to our customers, we put their risotto balls in different buns and our customers went absolutely crazy.
2. Go organic
Differentiate through using organic and high quality products. Thanks to sampling and passionately explaining how you source your ingredients – your customers will understand the essence and added value of choosing your food.
We never thought that we could put risotto balls in a bread. And today our Vegan Burger, arancini in a brioche bun, is our best seller.
3. Play on the local atmosphere
When you expand and open more branches – adapt your different locations to the particular area to prevent being seen as a franchise.
4. Set up effective systems
Find a cash register system that suits your business and really invest the time to set it up. You’ll save tons of time in the end – at Arancini Brothers we used to waste an hour every night reconciling receipts before getting an EPOS system. Now we use iZettle Pro in our three restaurants and run faster.
5. Never underestimate the importance of PR and communication
It’s easy to get excited about the opportunity to import a popular type of food to a new country or market. But new often means unknown – then it’s all about how you communicate it. Will your targeted future customers get it? We started at events and doing sampling. Now when we’re in the second stage of our business, we are working with a PR company to continue to grow awareness for arancini balls in general and The Arancini Brothers in particular.
6. Do your research on price points
Using good organic products doesn’t come cheap. Invest some time in running small surveys or interviews with your targeted customer groups to get an understanding around the actual willingness to pay. We’ve learnt that our customers are very price sensitive.
We used to waste an hour every night reconciling receipts before getting an EPOS system.
7. Invest in good managers
Staff turnover is high in this industry – be sure you do have a strategy in place to retain your team members. We have more than 40 staff – I can’t focus on them all. We’ve learnt that it’s tough to find great and reliable staff – no matter what you pay them. Instead focus on the top – it’s key to make your managers pass on their good energy to your workers and be true motivators.
8. Evaluate if third party delivery services make sense for you
The demand for delivery services (such as Deliveroo) tends to go down in times of recession when people try to spend less money. Evaluate if it makes sense for your restaurant to commit resources to deliveries or if you should focus more on driving walk-in customers.
9. Create a business plan – before launching
Having one will make it easier to drive the business in the right direction – because when you’re working up to (and beyond) 100 hours per week – it’s often hard to stay focused on the end goal.
Nada Abdelnour is based at iZettle’s London office. She’s driven by making the lives of London’s independent restaurant entrepreneurs easier – so foodies, workers, hipsters, tourists, yeah literally everyone (including herself) can indulge in new exciting food. Like delicious risotto balls, no wait… arancini!