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7 Ways to Grow Your Restaurant Business While Being Bootstrapped

7 Ways to Grow Your Restaurant Business While Being Bootstrapped
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You're reading Entrepreneur India, an international franchise of Entrepreneur Media.

Running a successful restaurant business is easier said than done. More recently, after the impact of demonetization on the Indian economy, startups, small restaurant owners are confronting a lot of challenges in staying afloat. The first thing that you need to expand your restaurant business is a no-brainer - money, that too truckloads of it!

Arranging finances through loans is definitely an option, but many businesses simply do not qualify to get one for myriad reasons. So, what do you do when you want to propel your restaurant business without having to depend on external funding?

Breathe easy, we’ve got you covered with these seven tips to grow your restaurant business without an investment.

1) Hire a food truck: Food trucks empower entrepreneurs with the freedom to whip up something they love, whether it is that lip-smacking, comforting street food, or a 3-course gourmet meal. The best part of having a food truck is that you are able to save on overhead costs that are otherwise incurred in a mainstream restaurant. Food truck owners can drive down to locations like IT parks, university campuses, shopping malls, etc. where there is a high probability of having prospects. Already popular in the West, food trucks are slowly gaining a lot of popularity in India. You can hire or buy one in accordance to your budget. They don't cost a fortune, and you are sure to recover the cost of acquiring one within a couple of years or sooner.

2) Networking helps: You need to promote your business and networking is a fail-safe mode that needs no money to further your business. Join food owners groups and associations on networking sites and you will get to know many success secrets and inspiring stories of restaurant owners that will get you breaking the shackles of complacency and despondency.

3) Social media and blogging: Set up an account on Facebook, Pinterest or twitter for your restaurant and post regular and relevant content on these social media cues. You'll be surprised how efficiently social media boosts your restaurant business. Blogs that contain pictures of your food menu, friendly staff, events, and contents can grab many eyeballs and advocate your restaurant business without any investment.

4) Innovation is the key: In a survey, it was found that almost 80% businesses failed because they tried to mimic strategies and agenda of other businesses. Out-of-the-box ideas will work magically for your business. Reward systems for loyal customers, unique promotions such as apps where customers can customize their food, off-beat delivery timings like delivering post midnight to certain locations at a minimum order delivery, contests, etc. can add some much needed panache to your restaurant business.

5) Partner with local businesses of your area: Partnerships can help grow and promote your business by tapping the customers of another business. First, find out what kind of clientele will your food be best suited to. If you're into healthy low-calorie food like salads and smoothies, you can do well in a partnership with gyms and health clubs. Else, a partnership with office cafeteria will be profitable if you offer an array of delectable snacks and main course at competitive prices.

6) Offer a proactive referral incentive: A new customer acquisition costs a lot more than retaining an old one. Having a strong loyal customer database is profitable for your business. Incentives like discount coupons on next meal, happy hours, referral coupons and meal vouchers upon bringing a companion can skyrocket your restaurant fan base. Though many businesses have adopted customer referral programs in the past, a lot of them have been unable to implement the same proactively, which has stymied their sales.

7) Watch out for events: Look out for big festival carnivals and events like Diwali, Holi, Durga Puja, College annual fests, Christmas, Children’s fair, Sunday soul sante etc. where thousands of people unabashedly explore new eateries without giving it a second thought. During such events, you would do well to put up a restaurant stall and offer your bestsellers at competitive prices that will catapult your sales; but ensure that you have a well-equipped kitchen and staff to accommodate a lot of new customers.

It takes a lot more than appointing best chefs and trained staff to run a successful restaurant business. These 7 simple ways will not burn a hole in your pocket and can jumpstart your restaurant business in a jiffy.

Edition: March 2017

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