Things that go bump in the night

It's three a.m. and you bolt upright in bed. Was it a noise from the closet? The bogeyman under the bed? It's probably your stomach. That gnawing feeling that you've forgotten something and you don't know what it is. Multiply that times 1,000 and that's the feeling of opening a new restaurant.Whether you're starting with an existing facility or you're building from the ground up, it's a tough job. But it can be much less stressful if you have a place to keep track of the thousands of loose ends and details.

Opening a new restaurant is more than just construction details and permits, paint colors and fixtures, interviewing and hiring. It's the coordination of a custom facility and a unique business. And it's humbling to know that a small oversight today could cost you thousands of dollars down the road.

Take something as simple as the yellow pages. Let's say you've just taken possession of the building and your grand opening is ten months from now. The deadline for next year's yellow page ad is in 12 weeks. Miss that and you're out of the loop for another year. It's a small mistake, but it can have big ramifications.

I've developed a fairly comprehensive Pre-Opening Timeline and Checklist that is divided into five major categories: 1) Discovery, 2) Planning, 3) Design Development, 4) Business, and 5) Operations. These categories are then broken down into the dozens and dozens of individual tasks required to get your business off the ground.

There are computer software programs out there that can help you set up a checklist and timeline and can help with project management, too. You can also download my version of the Pre-Opening Checklist as a guide. Sleep well!

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