Gabrielle F. Mather, CEO and founder of UAE-based restaurant firm Restaurant Secrets Inc., highlights five factors that must not be overlooked by restaurants opening in Dubai.
1) Consistent menu engineering is a must
Dubai is an extremely trend-conscious market, which means restaurant menus must be re-engineered every three to six months to stay relevant. The market is always evolving, drawing inspiration from all major leading food capitals around the world. It is important to ensure restaurant owners either have the right talent on board in-house or use F&B consultants to develop head-turning signature menus.
2) Budgets should be allocated for staff training and experiences
A downfall of many restaurants is high staff turnover. Losing employees is costly for restaurant owners when accounting for UAE hiring costs, such as visas, healthcare, accommodation, etc. High staff turnover is a real financial loss to any business. Considering that the average employee needs six months to be fully productive and thoroughly understand the business, losing team members frequently means that you are constantly fighting with a rookie team instead of retaining your strong people, who 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 restaurant — or any business for that matter.
3) Waste management must be taken seriously
Too many restaurants don’t have waste management systems in place, resulting in excess stock on shelves and in fridges that ends up in the bin. Owners should implement a strong POS system as well as kitchen management systems for inventory control. 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 don’t go off. Food waste is a massive global issue, and costs restaurant owners thousands every year.
4) Investing in Instagram marketing is a must
Instagram marketing in this part of the world is more effective and crucial to a brand’s positioning and communication than anywhere else globally. Have a budget for social media marketing and also for 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 so many consumers choose where to dine through feed scrolling; restaurants need to make their grid count.
5) Select your kitchen and build contractors carefully
Restaurant owners should be prepared to pay a premium if they want to open on time and produce a quality venue. While it may seem attractive 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 commonplace for low-cost contractors in Dubai. Put build contracts out to tender and ask for references. Check out if the contactor has done restaurants before, because the fit out of F&B units is very different from usual contracting.