The complete guide to writing a restaurant business plan

Writing a business plan is a key step in opening or taking over a restaurant, and is essential to the success of your project.

But what exactly is a business plan for, and what should it include? What are the best practices for producing an accurate, in-depth and comprehensive business plan? Find all the answers in our complete guide.

What purpose does a restaurant business plan serve?

Writing a restaurant business plan enables you first and foremost to review the ins and outs of your project. You will gain an overall vision of every aspect of your future restaurant – legal and commercial characteristics, marketing strategy, business forecasts, etc. 

The business plan is a vital component in your financing applications, since it will be requested by banks, private investors, potential commercial partners, associates and other stakeholders. 

Your business plan should enable these partners to understand the potential, gravitas and level of maturity of your project, and prove the financial reliability of your future restaurant. 

→ Note: your business plan should be written after you have carried out a restaurant market study and chosen your legal status. 

What should a business plan include?

A business plan should be between ten and 20 pages in length (excluding appendices). 

The following main sections should be included in a business plan:

  1. Executive summary
  2. Team presentation
  3. General project presentation
  4. Business model
  5. Choice of legal status
  6. Business forecasts
  7. Appendices to the business plan.

Executive summary

As its name suggests, the executive summary is a brief presentation of your restaurant project, including its strong points and added value. The executive summary should be a maximum of one to two pages in length. 

This introduction should capture the reader’s attention, making them want to continue reading. The text should therefore be catchy and carefully considered.

Team presentation

The business plan must also include a presentation of the project owner (restaurant owner) and their team (partners, chef, etc.).

It is important to highlight in this section, the background of each person involved, including their experience, training and expertise. The objective here is to demonstrate that your project is being piloted by qualified individuals with complementary skills. You should also specify the role and responsibilities of each person in the future restaurant.

General project presentation

This section should summarise the main features of your project, describing the following, in particular: 

  • The genesis of the project: How did the idea for your restaurant come about? What is your project’s story? What motivates you?
  • The concept: What type of restaurant do you want to operate (fast food, food truck, franchise, dine-in, takeaway, etc.)? What type of cuisine will you offer (local, exotic, gourmet, molecular, etc.)? What atmosphere do you want to create (family, sophisticated, etc.)? What is your ultimate vision? How does your restaurant idea add value?
  • The target: What type of customer are you looking to attract? What specific needs does your project meet?

Business model

Another important component of the restaurant business plan is the commercial and economic strategy, or the business model. 

This section should include :

  • A presentation of your offering and dishes (starters, main courses, desserts, beverages, etc.), as well as potential services (delivery, hosting of events, children’s playground, etc.). Remember to include your star dishes here. 
  • The price range of your food and drink items, as well as potential specialities, menu options, special offers, daily specials, etc. 
  • A description of your restaurant space: its location and strong points.
  • Your marketing strategy and how you intend to generate word-of-mouth and attract customers: website, social media, specialised press, flyers, etc. 
  • The main conclusions and key figures of your market study: current state of the restaurant sector, direct competitors, target customers, supply and demand in the catchment area, market segmentation, chosen positioning, etc.

Choice of legal status

Choosing your legal status is one of the administrative formalities that must be completed before you can open.  

In your restaurant business plan, remember to specify the status you have chosen, and to justify this choice using solid arguments. 

You should also mention the tax and social security system associated with your particular legal status, as well as the distribution of responsibilities and capital, in accordance with the status’ terms. 

In the restaurant sector, the limited liability company model (SARL) is often  preferred, although the simplified stock company model (SAS) is also popular. Further, sole proprietorship or micro-enterprise models are more adaptable over the short term if you want to quickly test the water. 

Business forecasts

The business forecasts are arguably the most important part of a restaurant business plan, especially since lenders and investors will pay particular attention to this section.

This section should outline a number of elements, presented in financial tables:

Appendices to the business plan

Do not forget to include any potentially useful supporting documents at the end of your business plan or in a separate file. These could include your commercial lease contract, financing agreements, pictures of your restaurant, photos of your dishes, your menu, and so on.

Tips for writing a successful restaurant business plan

Here are some useful tips for writing a successful restaurant business plan:

  • Pay careful attention to the presentation of the document (modern font, attractive cover page with your brand name and logo, visuals, infographics, photos of the team, etc.).
  • Include a table of contents, page numbers, headings and subtitles, etc. 
  • Opt for a simple, clear and concise writing style: the document must flow smoothly.
  • Limit overly technical terminology: the document must be understandable to those unfamiliar with the restaurant sector.
  • Cite your sources (references to books, studies, surveys, etc.).
  • Be transparent: Do not ignore any potential challenges and risks concerning your project, and present your solutions to overcoming these hurdles.

Lastly, do not hesitate to contact a professional such as an accountant, restaurant consultant or business start-up expert to assist you in drafting your business plan. 

Also note that several models and software packages exist that can help you draw up a business plan (e.g. CCI Business Builder from the Chamber of Commerce and Industry;  Bpifrance tools, etc.).

Also see : « Statutory notices and signage »

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