Wondering how to start a cafeteria? We take you step-by-step from start to success.
Reasons for Starting a Cafeteria
In recent years, many aspiring restaurant owners have tailored their startup strategies toward the launch of a cafeteria or buffet-style establishment. Why? Because cafeterias offer several advantages over a traditional, sit-down restaurant model.
- Fewer employees. Cafeterias and buffets operate with little or no wait staff. Although you'll need plenty of cooks, dishwashers and service staff, on a table-by-table basis, employee costs are lower for a cafeteria than for an upscale restaurant.
- Faster turnover. Cafeterias and buffets experience higher table turnover rates than other restaurants. That means you can serve more customers with fewer square feet of restaurant space -- a big win for a cash-conscious startup.
- Scale pricing. Successful cafeterias offer a wide assortment of entrees and buffet items to their customers. But from an ingredients standpoint, it's easier for a cafeteria to buy bulk than it is for a menu-driven restaurant to purchase mass quantities of food products. As a result of scale pricing, a startup buffet has a cost advantage over other restaurants in the local market.
Cafeteria Food Handling Concerns
Food handling procedures are a critical concern for cafeteria-style restaurants. Since food is exposed to the public, hygiene and sanitation need to take center stage -- sneeze guards, hand sanitation and other practices are essential for maintaining a clean and safe cafeteria environment.
As a cafeteria owner, it's important to stay current on sanitary practices and food safety concerns. The National Restaurant Association offers a range of resources on food handling techniques, nutrition and other best practices that will affect the success of your cafeteria startup.
Business Plans for Cafeterias
As a startup cafeteria owner, writing a quality business plan is one of the first tasks you need to address.
To help you navigate the process, there are a number of business plan software solutions on the market. A business plan software solution is an effective tool for time-strapped cafeteria owners who understand the importance of a great business plan.
As an additional benefit, most business plan solutions are geared toward providing the information most commonly requested by lenders and investors.
Talk to the Community
If you're a startup cafeteria owner, you understand how important it is to anchor your new business in the local community. Most cafeterias are local businesses that are marketed to a geographically concentrated customer base. For this reason, it's a good idea to ask nearby customer prospects if they would buy from a new cafeteria, if one were to open up in the area.
Look Over the Competition
Well in advance of opening a cafeteria in your area, it's a smart move to determine how strong the competition is. Try our link below to get a list of local competitors in your area. Just enter your city, state and zip code to get a list of cafeterias in your community.
How are you going to successfully complete with existing firms? It's important that you never underestimate the competition.
Find Good Remote Business Advice
If you are interested in starting a cafeteria, the next step is to have a conversation with someone who is in the business. Local competitors are not going to give you the time of day, mind you. What's in it for them?
However, an entrepreneur who owns a cafeteria in another town may be willing to share their entrepreneurial wisdom with you, as long as they don't view you as a competitive threat. In fact, they are often very willing to share startup advice with you. In my experience, you may have to call ten business owners in order to find one who is willing to share his wisdom with you.
Where can an aspiring entrepreneur like you find a cafeteria manager in a different locale who can assist you?
Easy. Find them using our link below and start calling until you are successful.
Acquired Cafeterias: Competitive Advantages
New cafeteria owners have the potential to realize earlier profits and fewer headaches when they buy a a cafeteria instead of starting one from scratch.
A business acquisition also delivers an established brand - a big advantage in competitive markets. Although it may cost a little more to buy an established brand, the payoff will be greater market penetration, customer loyalty and resale value.
In a competitive market, the right acquisition can be leveraged to catapult your business into a market leadership position, even if you personally lack industry credentials.
Is Franchising the Right Option?
Your chances for achieving your top business goals are much better if you buy a franchise rather than going it alone.
If your goal is to start a cafeteria, it's worthwhile to determine whether buying a franchise could alleviate your startup process.
The link below gives you access to our franchise directory so you can see if there's a franchise opportunity for you. You might even find something that points you in a completely different direction.
These additional resources regarding getting started as an entrepreneur may be of interest to you.
If you sell to cafeterias, this isn't the right place for you. These resources are more appropriate for you:
If you are interested in starting a different kind of business, please browse our directory of guides below.