Lessons For Launching a Startup Concept

Tom Jednorowicz, Founder and CEO of Meatheads in Chicago, has had 20-plus years experience with fast casual early-stage high-growth restaurant concepts. While launching his own startup concept he learned a few lessons and is sharing these along with a few tips for any startup concept.

1. Any startup business plan needs to be flexible.The startup business plan should prepare for short term financial viability; it should not be interpreted too literally as it can create tension in the decision-making process which can stifle growth because it does not allow for adaptations to changes in the marketplace. Growth should not be defined solely by the business plan.

2. Execution: Create an atmosphere of winning for both employees and customers.It is crucial to implement training programs for employees in both front and back of house positions to make sure the guests are enjoying their experience. It is important to make sure this experience is consistent in order to ensure repeat clientele. Employees who excel at providing opportunities for growth within the company should be rewarded as it will result in a high employee retention rate.

3. Take care of every customer.
A guest experience is not solely based on the food but on the service in general and how it all ties in together as a whole. This is why it is important to ensure each customer is having an enjoyable experience by anticipating guests’ needs and going above and beyond to rectify minor mistakes when handling customer complaints.

4. Branding: It’s okay to modify your brand and target audience.
Embrace the changes that can be observed after opening whether it means having a different clientele than anticipated or different brand priorities. Make changes to further adapt with the updated business plan by for example, changing the logo, adding new menu items, changing the ambiance and/or physical decor, and generally finding methods to gain customer loyalty as it will drive success.

5. Community: Hyperlocal connections will help your business establish roots.
“Connect with customers in your restaurant’s backyard first, then expand your reach.” Give the community an opportunity to learn about your brand and what it represents by having a soft opening. The importance of being accepted in the local community should not be understated.

To read more advice from Tom Jednorowicz on opening a restaurant startup, click here

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