After watching most of the BBC version and the first two shows of the US version of Gordon Ramsay's "Kitchen Nightmares," it is easy to see why so many in the foodservice business, be it a restaurant or a coffee shop, fail. Not including location and lack of capital, which are often two of the primary business killers, I want to look at those things that are overlooked but often prove to be the death nail.
Lack of Preparation Before Opening: This is the time to do serious homework. You need to do everything including flow in the kitchen, color and size of plates, where will you source your products--have you tested all of these products... How will you price? Why will you price? What is on the menu? Is everyone trained?, Who is your target? Is the menu developed to attract that target? What type of external marketing will you do? What type of internal marketing will you do? And hundreds of other things.
Too Complex: Menus with too many selections. If your customers take fifteen minutes just to read the menu, they will probably get bored or confused.
No Leadership: Poor management and/or lack of leadership. This is 100% fault of the ownership.
Lack of Detail: This goes in conjunction with Lack of Preparation. Once you have opened, it's understanding those little details that make the difference. Is all the food going out at the same time? Is it all hot? Is there crema on your Americano? Are you testing your shots daily? Do you put latte art on all latte? Are your plates clean, etc. Details.
These problems are both universal and easy to remedy, but you have to have the will to do it. Success is not a byproduct of passion and the fact that you love something doesn't mean you will be good at it. Understanding the reasons for business failure is one way to assure your competitive edge and move beyond mere survival.
Do you have what it takes?