Guide to Restaurant Consultants / Industry / Last Modified: February 22, 2017

Restaurant consultants can give you the edge in starting a restaurant, a business with an astoundingly high failure rate. Food service ...

Restaurant consultants can give you the edge in starting a restaurant, a business with an astoundingly high failure rate. Food service consultants can benefit even industry veterans who think they can start a restaurant without calling in outside restaurant experts.

Restaurant consulting firms can tighten up every aspect of your plan, from concept development to employee training. A restaurant's profit margins are slim and the business plan complex. There are many fronts where costs can quickly spiral out of control without sold restaurant advice.

1. Good restaurant consultants provide you with an objective point of view. Because they are not so emotionally bound-up in your vision, they can dispense levelheaded, objective restaurant advice and shed some light on your blind spots.

2. Your food service consultant should be organized, experienced, and have plenty of time to devote to your restaurant. Remember, you're hiring someone to supplement your schedule and knowledge base. Get your money's worth.

3. Not all restaurant consultants are created equal. Some specialize in getting an enterprise off the ground, while others work with established restaurants to get them in the black. You can hire a restaurant design consultant, bar consultant or a franchise restaurant consultant. Know exactly who you're hiring and establish your expectations up-front.

Search for industry-accredited food service consultants

Remember, anybody can call themselves a consultant. It doesn't mean their services are particularly helpful. A professional organization provides some assurance that your consultant has the expertise to do the job right. Also follow up on references and ask if previous projects were completed in a timely and effective manner.

Hire restaurant consulting help with the right experience

While some firms offer comprehensive services, others are geared toward improving a specific aspect of your restaurant's operation. Ask specific questions about a consultant's depth and range of experience.

Discuss your expectations and get a restaurant consultancy agreement in writing

Hammering out the details before you get started will save everyone frustration down the line, and protect you if things go sour. Set goals, timetables for progress, a payment schedule, and find out what costs you'll need to reimburse.

Subscribe to a restaurant management publication

If you're struggling to improve the efficiency of your operations but are hesitant to hire somebody, get your hands on educational materials geared to needs of the restaurant owner. Most publications are likely to have advertisements for seminars in your area, which provide another source of professional advice.

  • Interview prospective food service consultants with a list of prepared questions. Listen carefully for solutions, rather than industry jargon.
  • Choose a consultant with whom you share some "chemistry." You should choose somebody you feel comfortable with from the get-go, as this is a relationship you need to feel relaxed and confident in. Make sure your consultant is a good listener.
  • Ask for a written proposal before you make the hire. Likeability is one thing, but success is in the details. Any restaurant consultant worth his salt should be able to put together a detailed, organized plan that addresses your needs.
  • Be wary of restaurant management consultants that push expensive solutions. Good restaurant consultants look for ways to cut costs with a minimum of upfront expenses.

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