Before Your, Restaurants Grand Opening Give Serious Thought to a Soft Opening
Considering the pressure on a restaurant’s grand opening, many restaurateurs are starting with the soft opening.
What is a soft-opening restaurant?
A soft opening allows you to test your concept, food, and service.
You get to invite a limited number of people before you open it to the public.
Why should you do a soft opening for your restaurant?
Let’s face it; you’re in a highly competitive industry. On top of that, it’s a consumer-driven industry, and word of mouth travels fast.
Because of this, restaurant owners are under more pressure than ever to make an excellent first impression when they open their doors.
Soft Opening Success
Practice makes perfect!
From the front of the house to the back of the house, you have a lot going on.
A soft opening allows you to observe and train your staff in a lively, controlled environment. So you can fine-tune your food, service, and operations.
It allows you to gauge customer reactions to your restaurant concept, menu, and service so you can make tweaks where necessary.
You want customers lining up on your grand-opening day.
While there are various ways to market your restaurant, word of mouth is one of the best ways to drive traffic. If you have a successful soft opening, you can build hype for opening day!
Handing out coupons, deals, or other promotional offers at your soft opening can set up future revenue streams.
If your soft opening goes well, chances are good your guests will return.
Planning for a Soft Opening
If you decide to have a soft opening, it will create some urgency for your grand opening.
It would be best if you did it with a grand-opening date in mind.
Ideally, your grand opening should come soon after your soft opening so you capitalize on hype and potential customers don’t lose interest.
Most likely, leading up to your grand opening, you’ll be dealing with several tasks.
These tasks include construction, renovation, and permitting.
During that time, you need to pay rent without revenue. If you opt for a soft opening, you will need additional days or weeks before officially opening. This means more time without revenue.
Considering most restaurant owners want to open as quickly as possible, be sure you have planned for the revenue necessary for the soft opening.
Tips for Soft Openings
To make sure your soft opening runs as smoothly as possible, we recommend the following tips:
What to serve: First, consider the menu as a preview of your more extensive menu and focus on a simple, limited menu. This also helps to conserve time and budget. You want to keep your menu limited, ensure it’s diverse and include some unique dishes. These dishes will make your restaurant stand out and leave guests wanting to try more.
Prep your staff: Before your event, talk to your servers through the soft-opening menu. Have them do a tasting so they can speak intelligently about your offerings.
Test your technology: Use your point of sale, card payment system, and printers during your soft opening to confirm everything’s working correctly.
Talk with your guests: Train your staff to chat with each table and thank your guests for being there. This gives you a chance to get honest feedback so you can make improvements before the grand opening.
Pay attention to customer service: Don’t expect guests to be more forgiving because it’s a soft opening. You only have one chance for a first impression, so make sure your customer service is on point. Take notes on anything that needs to be improved.
Limit the number of guests: Seat a number that your kitchen and staff can comfortably handle, so you can successfully execute your soft opening.
Keep your hours short: To ensure your event goes well, ensure it’s manageable. By shortening the hours, you can stick to a budget and give your guests a preview of what’s to come.
Integrating your restaurant into a local neighborhood is essential to establishing a loyal customer base.
Creating a neighborhood presence before your grand opening date allows you to get a head start on making connections. Those connections may one day become your regular customers.
A soft opening can help set you up for success on your grand-opening day, regardless of your restaurant type.
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