Prefabricated metal building kits have changed the game for fast food restaurant chains. Short and long term sustainability, design flexibility for changing workflows, and speed of construction make steel the ideal choice for restaurants where instant gratification is the name of the game. It’s why prefab steel is the number one choice in building material for practically any franchise. (You can read more about that in our article here.) But this article isn’t meant to sell you on steel buildings. It’s the next in our series of articles intended to help you gain traction in starting a new business – a fast-food business!
Should you start a fast food business?
There was a time when starting a fast food restaurant would have required you to be a meat-loving burger monger who wasn’t afraid to get a little greasy in the deep fryer. But fast food is evolving with the changes in demand from health-conscious consumers. Arguably one of the most critical factors in the success of a new fast food restaurant is your choice in niche; the modern fast food joint will offer flexible options targeted at a specific customer.
With that in mind, the fast-food management lifestyle is made for entrepreneurs with culinary or food service experience, passionate about efficiency, taste, and cost. You shouldn’t be afraid to delegate tasks to others. Fast food restaurants are fast-paced environments that often run like an assembly line. Everyone has a job that relies on the person in line before them. A restauranteur should know how to do each person’s job, but be confident enough in his staff to let them get it done.
If you fit the bill, there is no better time to start a fast-food restaurant than right this very minute. Today, most adults work full-time jobs and have passionate side hustles. The result is a good deal of disposable income with less time to dedicate to cooking at home. Quick and easy meals on the go are the love language of the current workforce, and it’s about time you got your share.
How do you start a fast food restaurant?
If you’ve made it this far, you likely have an idea about your target market and the type of food that you’d love to serve. Whether you are self-funding or will need to present this information to your banker to begin a loan application, you should still take the time to create a business plan on paper. Two key statistics you’ll need to calculate ahead of time include:
- Your initial startup and ongoing costs
- Your timeline to a return on investment/break even.
Fast food restaurants, on any restaurant for that matter, are no small investment. Prefabricated metal buildings may be a great way to keep costs low in the long term, but health codes, ingredient stocks, and efficient workflows can raise your startup costs well over $100,000. Be honest with yourself about the potential costs you may run into, and don’t forget to factor in labor, marketing, insurance, and aesthetic upgrades.
Info for Starting A Fast Food Restaurant
**disclaimer please seek any legal advice from a licensed professional**
- Establish a legal entity. An LLC, corporation, or DBA prevents you from being liable in the event of a lawsuit.
- Register for taxes. A variety of state and federal tax applications will need to be submitted before you are eligible to open for business. Registering for an EIN can quickly be done on the IRS website.
- Open a business account. This will make it easier to keep track of tax-deductible expenses and stay on top of your goals for a return on investment. Failing to keep your business and personal accounts separate is a recipe for a lawsuit. You may also need to apply for a business line of credit to handle startup expenses until you begin to see a return. Hiring an accountant to manage these accounts and track expenses will allow you to better focus on the success of your business.
- Permits and Licensure. In the case of the foodservice industry, there are a wide variety of licenses and permits you’ll need to begin construction and operate your business. The FDA has strict guidelines as to how your food can be processed, packaged, and sold. You’ll need to prove compliance to proceed with federal business licensing requirements. From there, you can move onto state and local business licensing and a certificate of occupancy.
- Get insured. Business insurance is highly recommended, especially considering the high startup costs associated with opening a food business. Worker’s compensation insurance may be required in your state for full and part-time employees alike.
Starting A Successful Fast Food Restaurant
Locals are generally eager to try a new hot spot in town, and first impressions will make a big difference. Billboards, local news stations, and print ads are still relevant channels for getting the word out, but the essential key to your success is turning first-time visitors into loyal promoters of your product and service. Consider running a free giveaway or special for your first customers to improve their impression of your service, especially while you’re working out the kinks of your workflow.
To keep customers coming back, you’ll need to gather feedback on everything from menu items to speed of service. Adding drive-thru lanes, simplifying the menu, or having a more engaging physical presence will continue to bring more customers back. The best fast-food restaurants will become must-see destinations for area visitors – it should be just as much an experience as it is a convenience.
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