The food and beverage industry has been on the rise in Saudi Arabia for the past few years. More people are eating out every day due to the massive establishment of high-quality restaurants all over the country. Boasting one of the largest youthful populations in the world, many restaurant owners are now taking interest in setting up chains of restaurants in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
Just like any other business in various fields, the main reason for the existence of restaurants is to make a profit. The competition in the food and beverage industry in Saudi Arabia is cut-throat and you will need to be the absolute best to succeed easily. With years in the industry as a restaurant consulting firm in Saudi and other countries, we have garnered enough experience to share the following tips in making your restaurant successful.
11 Factors for a successful restaurant in Saudi Arabia
1. Quality food
The main and most important reason different guests visit your restaurant is to enjoy quality food, every other factor is secondary to that. Serving quality food will earn you a good reputation among clients. This will work to your advantage because a satisfied customer will always market you. Saudis are deeply cultural and value good food made with local ingredients. It would be a big bonus if you incorporate the local cuisine in your menu even as you strive to attain diversity.
The presentation of food and your plating skills will go a long way in helping you woo every guest that walks in. It would be worth noting that Islamic dietary laws forbid the consumption of pork and alcoholic beverages. The laws are enforced all over Saudi Arabia and you would not want your business failing over something as avoidable as this.
2. Talented and passionate staff
Every single person working at the restaurant, from the chef to the waiter, is a reflection of the values that your brand holds. If your guest encounters a rude waitress, for instance, they will take it that you have no disciplinary measures in place, therefore assuming such behaviour is tolerable.
Whether you hire experienced ones or not, we advise that you take your staff through regular training sessions and instil your restaurant’s values in them. Set up team building activities and get to personally know your employees and build an emotional bond with them outside of the restaurant set up. You may even come up with staff competitions with admirable rewards that will challenge every employee to put in more effort. Draft a conflict resolution procedure among your staff to help you address any problems that may arise.
For your restaurant to be successful, you may need to take time to regularly listen to your staff’s opinions too. By doing so, you will make them feel like an integral part of the business operations and boost their overall output.
3. Ensure you are well-versed with Saudi traditions and culture
Saudi Arabia is one country deeply rooted in their Islamic traditions. If you are not well-versed with these cultural practices, you might unintentionally lose a number of customers. Though recently, some strict traditions have become relaxed, you may still need to be wary. It might be better to have a Saudi national assist you if you are a foreigner running the business. There are separate entrances and areas allocated to different social groups. For instance, single women are not allowed to mingle with men of whom they share no relation. Families should have their own spaces set aside. This is something important to consider when designing the restaurant.
4. Market yourself widely
Hospitality consulting companies in Saudi Arabia insist that when it comes to advertising your restaurant, you should follow trends in communication. Now, the internet is the fastest and widespread mode of communication. Things are now easier to do at the comfort of one’s place, especially among the millennial generation. To reach more of the population, you will need to embrace social media advertising. Set up pages on social media and develop your own website where guests can make reservations and review the menu without physically being at the restaurant. It may mean hiring social media experts and professional photographers as part of your marketing team.
The advantage of social media is that you get instant and helpful feedback based on the likes, comments and number of shares. Make use of the content creators and influencers in the country to popularise your brand on their platforms. From that, you will get a massive following that would have otherwise been hard to attain. Once in a while, you can host performances by local artists with a large fan base at the restaurant. People that would normally not visit your restaurant will do so for the show, who knows, they might end up being regular guests from then on.
5. Do not compromise on the décor
Saudi Arabia’s population is largely made up of the young generation. As we have seen, they are the most affected by the social media craze. They are more likely to visit restaurants with a picturesque interior to flaunt to their social media buddies. These restaurants will soon be trending as more and more people would want to pay them visits and be enthralled by the interesting designs. Saudis also place much value on family dinner outs. They would want to do so in serene and beautifully-themed settings. If you have a family-themed restaurant, ensure there is something for everyone including the children. This way, you are sure to have guests paying you return visits because they feel included.
If you own or manage a fast-food chain, go for more trendy themes as most of your guests will be the youthful population. Your customers are more likely to appreciate it if you incorporate nature in your décor, considering Saudi Arabia is mostly a desert-like nation. We constantly advice restaurant owners to give their best when it comes to interior design as it is what sells them faster than any other factors.
Read our blog on what a good restaurant design is not for more restaurant design tips.
6. Always be consistent
Customers will always keep coming back for something that took their breath away with the first visit. It could be the amazing food, breathtaking views or simply even the warm reception and service they received. Whatever it is, you should never lose sight of it. Your customers should always trust that everything they like about your restaurant will always be held consistently. If it is the great food you offer, go the extra mile and ensure you make it even better every time they come back. It may shock you that some customers will leave and develop something like an “addiction” to one of your meals. You do not want them coming back to find something totally different from what they had the last time. Therefore ensure you have standard recipes that are not changed regardless of the chef handling the meal. It might also mean having standard recipes from the same supplier every day.
Consistency in terms of service is also important. Your customers will expect the same warm reception and short waiting time during their first visit. To manage this consistency in service, set up strict operational standards to be followed by the staff. With consistency in play, you will find that you have a long list of loyal customers in no time.
7. Incorporate the latest technology in your operations
For a long time now, Saudi Arabia has been one of the countries with the youngest population in the world. It is therefore quite necessary that the food and beverage industry adapts to suit the needs of this tech-savvy population. As a restaurant owner, this means continuously seeking ways to include technology in your operations to attract more people. Now, diners want to enjoy quality food through exceptionally fast and easy processes. Restaurants all over Saudi Arabia are advancing in technology with some even employing the use of robotic servers. Technology is beneficial when it comes to saving time, cutting down the cost of hiring employees and more significantly, making your work easier.
You need to have online systems for guest bookings and ordering. Software is also now available to help you monitor employee payrolls and work hours, take inventory and bill customers so you can throw out the conventional accounting methods using pen and paper. With the latest technology in the kitchen, you are also able to get quality results with little labour costs.
8. Try to cut costs wherever you can
For a successful restaurant business, we recommend being keen on cost control or basically doing away with unnecessary expenses. Restaurants may at times have more in stock than they may need. Reevaluate how much you need, product by product and change your orders. Reducing the excess means less wastage and spoilage and eventually increased profits. Ensure you also make maximum use of ingredients that would otherwise be thrown out. You may opt for some lower grade products if they produce the same results to save on costs. It is not uncommon for restaurants to incur costs due to theft by employees. Dishonest employees oftentimes steal expensive items and conceal them in bags, or even the trash cans out of which they will later retrieve them. Set up an accountability system that will help you monitor and prevent any wastage either by carelessness or theft. This has an effect of gradually saving costs and improving the profits in the long run.
9. Choose the best physical location for your restaurant
A good location for your restaurant is key to its success. Many factors come into play when you are picking a location for your restaurant in Saudi Arabia. You have to pick somewhere that has a large population base for example in large cities and towns such as Riyadh and Jeddah. There need to be a good number of people around there to keep your business steady. Visibility is another key factor. Your restaurant should be easily accessible from the road to attract walk-in clients. Many driving guests dislike the struggle that comes with finding parking spots. Ensure the location you pick has enough space for your customers.
10. Good restaurant management skills
Restaurant management involves several different tasks such as managing finances, inventory and public relations. The main reason many restaurants end up failing is because of poor management of finances. For yours to succeed, you must enforce good financial habits. Better management may call for the use of Point of Sales (POS) systems to track cash flow, sales and inventory. It will help you identify the popularised items on the menu from which you will be able to make relevant decisions. In the case of conflict, ensure your customers walk out feeling satisfied and listened to, while also protecting your staff. The restaurant manager holds the running of the restaurant together. He must learn to think fast and execute sound judgment in the heat of things.
11. Embrace the critics
Everyone who wants to succeed must learn to endure the harsh critics. You will not always get the best feedback from your guests. At such moments, you will be required to acknowledge the reviews and work toward changing them. Remember your customer is always right. Positively reacting to such suggestions show that you actually care about improving the customers’ experience. Encourage more guests to leave reviews that will help you improve on the areas you might be ignorantly neglecting
Creating your Own Recipe for Success
Restaurants close every day because they have missed the mark and refuse to acknowledge their need to improve. However, starting with these tips can make you step up from your game. The tips above have been shared from our years of experience in the food and beverage industry. We have worked as hospitality consultants for numerous restaurants in the Middle East that have been able to achieve tremendous success. Reach out to us today to get your restaurant business on the right track.