Dubai’s bustling F&B scene sees the opening of new restaurants regularly, and closures near as frequently. While there’s no pinpoint reason that is responsible for doors closing, there is a range of contributing factors, such as areas of the business often forgotten about during an outlet’s launch period.
Overlooking important areas of the restaurant business could see the closure of your venue. Before opening a restaurant in Dubai, we would advise any restauranteur to consider and manage their resources to ensure they’re able to effectively deliver on a few key areas. These five aspects of opening a restaurant in Dubai should never fall by the wayside.
Menu Development & Engineering
Once you've decided on the right menu, menu Engineering needs to be a consistent exercise. That means not just great products on the menu, but also monitoring their performance regularly. See what’s selling & what’s not. Make decisions to re-engineer as per trends as well as sales performance of the menu. Think of it as a tenant in your building, no rent, no room. Dubai is known for its extremely trend-conscious market, we suggest restaurant menus be re-engineered every three to six months to stay relevant. Dubai’s F&B market is always evolving, drawing inspiration from all major leading food capitals around the world. It’s important to ensure you have the right talent on board within your brand or to task F&B consultants to develop head-turning signature menus and to manage these unavoidable updates regularly, effectively, and creatively.
Training & Incentives
Budgets need to be set aside for staff training and experiences. This seems to get lost somewhere while we get busy working on design, product, fit-out, etc. When doors open this is what will be the determining factor of how your brand communicates itself to your guests. A downfall for many restaurants is the high turnover of staff. Losing employees is costly when there are hiring costs such as visas, healthcare, accommodation, etc. to consider in the UAE. High staff turnover is a real financial loss to any business. It is important to remember that an average employee needs six months to be fully productive and thoroughly understand the business, losing them frequently means you are constantly dealing with a rookie team instead of retaining strong people, whom you’ve invested training and operational synergy in, just when they are finally becoming an asset to you. It’s important for businesses to include training and incentive budgets into their P&L. Employees who feel taken care of and valued will always put more into making a success of the business.
Waste management is crucial to ensure no holes for leaks of revenue. JIT management of inventory along with a logical PAR level system based on sales predictions has been my favorite method to start off the waste management process. Add on to this smart stock rotation, prep control & display control. Also, keep an eye on your voids & complaints, these are unavoidable but need senior leadership strategy. Too many restaurants don’t have waste management systems in place which results in large amounts of stock on shelves and in fridges that end up in the bin. You should implement a strong POS system as well as kitchen management systems for inventory control that ensures you sell what you buy. A JIT system is perfect for the current market scenario of unpredictable sales and can help minimize stock levels and rotating products so that they do not spoil. Food wastage is a massive issue globally and costs restaurant owners thousands every year.
Ensure you have a set marketing budget. Instagram marketing in this region is more effective and crucial to a brand’s positioning and communication than anywhere else globally. Having a budget set for social media marketing is essential. The budget will also need to include hiring the right candidate with the relevant skills. High-quality imagery is a must, so don’t skimp on photography. Building great content through lifestyle and professional imagery and videos is the way to go in the UAE. We’re living in an age where many consumers choose where to dine by scrolling through feeds. Restaurants need to make their grid count. Influencer management, as well as digital marketing based on your brand goals, are important budgetary allocations.
BUILD & OS&E
Wrong selection of your kitchen and build contractor is in my experience the make or break part of a start-up. You should be prepared to pay a premium price if you want to open on time and produce a quality venue. While it may seem appealing to go with the lower-priced contractor to start, this will ultimately result in spending more in the long run. Delayed openings and poor delivery are conventional for low-cost contractors in Dubai. Tender out your build contracts and ask for references. Make sure to check if the contractor has done restaurants before because the fit-out of F&B units is very different from usual contracting.