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Opening a restaurant by the water: 5 essential tips

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Running a restaurant can be a rewarding experience. Waterfront restaurants can be even more so, with stunning views, a peaceful atmosphere, and the ability to do a lot of business.

As many benefits as there are to opening a waterfront restaurant, they won’t come on their own. It takes a lot of foresight and a solid strategy to be successful in this business. With that in mind, here are five tips to keep in mind when opening a waterfront restaurant.

1. Check the market closely

Some experts say the #1 reason businesses fail is that they do not study their market. If you want to succeed on the waterfront, you will need to know the area. You need to understand availability, your competition, what consumers want, and if there are any unmet needs or wants.

Compare a few locations and see what other businesses are in the area. If there are many other restaurants, there may be too much competition. If there isn’t, see if you can figure out why. Examine what locals like to do and why they may travel elsewhere to do things, finding potential niches to serve.

2. Find what makes you unique

Once you understand your market, you can focus on how you will stand out in it. It’s not enough to be a place that serves food with a nice view. Do you specialize in a certain type of dish? Do you have a unique service model? Is your decor original? Find something that makes you different.

It often comes down to finding and serving a specific niche. To look for four key elements of the consumer to help you find a niche that works:

  • Easily identifiable customers
  • Accessible customers
  • An underserved market
  • A large potential market

If you can find a market base that meets these four criteria, you can focus on it to build a successful restaurant.

3. Take full advantage of your options

One way to stand out is to capitalize on your location. If you already have a property on the water, why not look into it and offer other amenities and activities? You can organize boat trips, rent diving equipment, surf lessons or anything else to grow your business.

Research unmet needs to determine which additional services would benefit your business the most. Don’t forget to acquire all the necessary skills and knowledge, such as how to operate a boat lift safely to make sure you don’t take more than you can handle.

4. Get the right insurance

Insurance is easy to overlook when planning everything else, but you shouldn’t ignore it. Nine of ten costliest weather events over the past decade have been hurricanes, to which waterfront businesses are particularly vulnerable. Having extreme weather insurance will offset these potentially high costs.

Compare rates from various insurers to see how you can get the best coverage for the lowest rate. Even then, expect to pay higher premiums than you would further inland. However, many companies offer advantages for combining fontsso you may be able to save money by bundling your insurance.

5. Expect high costs

Sound financial planning is essential to running a successful business. If you plan to open a waterfront restaurant, you should plan for high operating expenses. Waterfront properties are expensive, you’ll face stiff competition, and your insurance will likely be expensive.

Gross margins of nearby restaurants typically fall around 43%, lower than some more traditional companies. Although it can be difficult, if you expect it and plan for it, you can start your business more easily. Look for affordable equipment solutions and aim for modest growth, and you’ll be more successful.

Start your waterfront restaurant on the right foot

Opening a waterfront restaurant comes with its own set of hurdles, but none of them are too big if you know what to expect. With the right preparation, you can run your restaurant with minimal roadblocks.

These five steps will help ensure the success of your waterfront restaurant. Then you can take advantage of all that this company has to offer.