With the proper research and strategy, buying a restaurant in 2019 can leave you stuffed with profits.
With the New Year right around the corner, you may have started considering resolutions and goals for 2019. While eating healthier or learning a new skill may be more common, the beginning of a new year also presents ample opportunity to get a business off the ground. If you’ve ever considered buying a restaurant but were held back by timing, economic health, or industry expertise, 2019 could be your chance to make your dreams a reality.
A Booming Industry
It’s no surprise that the restaurant industry is one of the biggest in America, bringing in $799 billion sales annually. This industry shows no indication of slowing down either, with dining out expenses increasing and Americans consistently spending a significant portion of their income on food. In fact, the consumer price index for away-from-home food purchases has increased 2.5 percent since April of 2017. Overall, the industry’s Restaurant Performance Index (RPI) is at 101.2, indicating a period of expansion. Based on these numbers alone, 2019 will be an opportunity for further growth in the market, indicating a lucrative time to enter the industry. If you had ever considered the restaurant business before, now is the perfect time to catch the wave while it’s still growing.
While the restaurant business is clearly a profitable industry, that doesn’t mean every business selling food is bound to be a success. There are important trends, factors, and challenges to consider before diving in.
From rainbow donut shops in New York to carefully curated Instagram accounts of gluten free food, the way customers engage with and set expectations for restaurants has changed. Social media, Yelp, and Google local map listings have made it easier than ever for customers to realize the enormity of food options surrounding them. This makes it more important than ever to understand what customers are looking for in their dining out experience, and use it to set yourself apart.
According to The National Restaurant Association's 2017 State of the Industry report, the biggest food trends for 2020 will include local sourcing, fresh produce, healthy eating, and an emphasis on authentic items. The top three trends include new cuts of meat, street food-inspired dishes, and healthy kids meals.
The report found that 70 percent of diners say they’re more likely to choose a restaurant that offers healthy options and 66 percent of American consumers claim they are more likely to visit a restaurant that offers locally sourced food options.
Overall, offering healthy, interesting, and local food resonates well with customers right now, and is an easy entry point as a new restaurant. It’s important that restaurant owners not only implement these trends into their business plan, but make them a central part of their marketing strategy.
Location, Location, Location
Location is one of the most important factors for a restaurant as choosing the right location will directly correlate to the amount of foot traffic you can expect. While it’s important to choose a high-trafficked area regardless of your region, there are certain regions that are more successful than others.
Locations with growing populations are the most obvious choice, and for good reason. Growing cities need more businesses to support increased demand. But, surprisingly, suburbs surrounding growing areas also require increased demand and make a great choice for new businesses. So, if a growing big city isn’t feasible for your budget, a smaller suburb is a surprisingly profitable second choice.
Know Your Demographic
In addition to knowing where your restaurant would be, it’s equally important to understand who you’re selling to. While your exact demographic will vary based on your location, there are two large demographics when it comes to dining out.
People 25 and under spend the highest percentage of their food expenses on food away from home. They annually spent $4,073 on dining out, which is a whopping 46 percent of their food expenses. People 35-44 spend the most money on food away from home, spending $7,483 a year. This amount totals out to 43 percent of their total food expenses.
Understanding these two demographics can help inform menu choices, pricing, and interior design, depending on which you foresee accommodating more. Those in the older demographic may care more about healthy kids’ meals while the younger demographic may be more interested in unique street food, for example.
The main challenge restaurant owners face is the overwhelming competition in the industry. In America alone, there are overone million restaurants. Distinguishing yourself from your competition with interesting recipes, competitive pricing, targeted marketing, and a unique ambiance is imperative for success. Thanks to endless internet recommendations, consumers are more aware of their options than ever before. This industry requires understanding the competition’s strengths and weaknesses and using them to strategically set yourself apart.
Is 2019 the year to buy your dream restaurant?
Absolutely. The industry continues to grow year over year with several key demographics devoting almost half of their food expenses to dining out. If there was ever a time to get involved in the industry, it’s now.