QSR restaurants

Step-by-Step Guide To Start Your Quick Service Restaurant (QSR)

Sahana Ananth
January 30, 2024
1 mins

Table of Content

Quick-service restaurants are growing. And the major factors driving their growth are globalization, affordable pricing, and convenience. As per research by Custom Market Insights, the market size of Quick-service restaurants, or QSR, is expected to reach $454.3 billion by 2030. This expected growth has made QSR restaurants a popular business option for entrepreneurs and small business owners. 

While the growth may seem promising, what leads to the success of a QSR is thoughtful planning and launch fueled with a powerful concept. Now, the question that arises is where you should start.

This is where this article can guide you. It will walk you through the process of starting a QSR quickly.

What are Quick Service Restaurants?

A Quick service restaurant is a casual dining restaurant that emphasizes quick food service. QSR restaurants generally have fast services, a casual atmosphere, limited seating, and a focused menu. The most popular and common QSRs in the US are Taco Bell, Panera Bread, Mc Donalds, and many more.

Quick-service restaurants come in various sizes. Small kiosks and major chain establishments offer limited seating, drive-thru windows, and takeaway options. However, one thing is always expected for all QRSs— speed and convenience. They make it easier for customers to purchase. 

More and more customers are leaning toward QSRs. They are popular for their quick turnaround times, allowing customers to order, receive their food, and eat relatively quickly compared to traditional sit-down restaurants.

Step-by-Step Guide to Start a QSR 

If you want to start a QSR in 2024, here is the process you need to know: 

1. Choose a Location With High Foot Traffic

The location of your quick-service restaurant is one of the most critical factors that can determine its success or failure. Since these restaurants are meant to provide quick meal options, customers usually prefer restaurants that are easily accessible. 

You should consider a location with higher foot traffic, such as busy streets and markets. It increases your restaurant's visibility and expands your customer base. Also, quick-service restaurants don't require ample parking space since customers need faster delivery and turnover.  

Additionally, You might have noticed McDonald’s, Burger King, and KFC are always near each other. It is so because QSRs perform better when they are open near competitors. If you open a QSR that sells pizza nearby to one that serves tacos, you can get their customers, too, as they are willing to try new food.

Other factors to keep in mind when selecting the location of the QSR are as follows:

  • Budget-friendly as they require minimal space and infrastructure to start.
  • Accessibility to customers 
  • Easily visible
  • Goes with the USP of your QSR
  • Ample space to run your accommodate your equipment and carry out cooking operations smoothly 
  • The availability of the ground floor is preferred.

2. Calculating the Initial Investment 

Before starting a QSR, it is crucial to consider the upfront cost of opening your restaurant to make an informed decision. The costs of opening the QSR include the following:

  • Renovation and interior design of the restaurant
  • Kitchen appliances and equipment
  • Acquisition of POS system and software
  • Furniture and other fixtures
  • Marketing 
  • Acquisition and setting up self-serving kiosks
  • Hiring and training staff
  • Permit and licenses
  • Getting initial supplies and inventory

Other factors, like the restaurant size, location, business requirements, insurance, and legal fees, can impact the cost of opening your quick-service restaurant. 

3. Secure Funds

The next step is to secure financing. You can use your personal savings, grants, and investors. You can also secure the funds through restaurant financing if you need more investment. 

Restaurant financing makes it easy to borrow money to start, expand, reimburse, and support your business. Some of the most popular ways by which you can get financing for your QSR are as follows:

  • Brick-and-mortar bank loan
  • Small Business administration (SBA) loan
  • Merchant cash advance
  • Business line of credit
  • Crowdfunding

Also, you must compare and evaluate the financing options based on the approval process and timeline, the lender's reputation, the need for collateral, repayment duration, and the interest rate. Evaluating these factors will help you choose the right lender for your quick-service restaurant and ensure you get maximum financing at minimal interest rates.

4. Obtain Licenses, Permits, and Insurance

QSRs face the strongest health and safety regulations to ensure food quality. Thus, as a quick-service restaurant owner, you must meet compliance requirements and have up-to-date permits, licenses, and insurance. 

Some of the most essential licenses and permits that you must possess are as follows:

  • Registered business name
  • Business License
  • Certificate of occupancy
  • Food service license
  • Employer identification number (EIN)
  • Food handler’s permit
  • Building health permit
  • Liquor license
  • Live entertainment and music license
  • Resale permit
  • Sales tax license
  • Dumpster placement permit
  • Seller’s Permit
  • Valet parking permit

You should also check if you need additional licenses and permits in your city to avoid penalties and meet compliance with local laws.  

5. Create Your Menu

The next step to set up a QSR is to plan the menu. If you are opening a franchise, then this is the most straightforward job. If opening your first quick-service restaurant, you must carefully develop your menu.

Menus are an essential part of the customer experience and your restaurant's selling point; thus, you should take time to develop your menu. To make the menu, follow the following steps:

  • Select the food and beverages you want to sell.
  • Choosing the names of dishes and adding their description.
  • Categorize your menu.
  • Setting the prices for the food items.
  • Highlighting the dishes that are popular and profitable.
  • Designing your menu color scheme, layout, and design. 
  • Make your menu accessible through your website, mobile application, QR scanner, and delivery platforms. 

Your menu management can be completely centralized and automated with software like OneHubPOS, where you can upload bulk menus from Excel or create and update them in real time across stores. 

6. Hire and Train Staff 

The staff of the QSR is its backbone. Hence, getting the right talent is a must. To begin hiring, you must create clear, concise job descriptions for different restaurants. You must highlight the job title and description to get the right talent. Once you have a suitable job description, you should look for staff via online portals, referrals, social networking platforms like LinkedIn and Facebook, and hiring agencies.

After hiring the right candidates, you must train the staff about your brand and their duties. To train them, you should provide a training manual that can act as a starting point for them. You must provide shadow and cross-training and educate them on food safety and cooking. 

Remember an important step - to educate the employees about the technology so that they can work effectively.  Also, free courses or live classes are essential to honing their soft skills and communication skills.  

7. Developing a Marketing Strategy

The marketing strategy for your business should start with setting goals, identifying the right marketing practices for your business, and determining the budget.

Target your audience through a mix of online and offline marketing. The popular way to target your audience via offline marketing is through mouth-of-words, hoarding, local advertisement, and pamphlets. 

On the other hand, you can create your brand online presence by greeting your QSR page on social media channels like Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and TikTok. You can select the right platform based on your target audience.  

We recommend listing your business on Yelp and Google My Business and asking your customers to drop their reviews to increase your restaurant's reach. Also, you can get a website for your restaurant to increase the brand visibility. 

8. Procuring Kitchen Equipment 

Kitchen equipment is one of the major components of the expense of opening a quick-service restaurant. You must prepare a list of necessary equipment while preparing your business plan. 

While starting a QSR, you will need the grill, fryers, refrigerator, mixer, convection oven, preparation tables, cutting board, knives, fry pans, utensils, dishwasher, and food storage equipment. You may also require other equipment based on the food you sell. 

You can procure this equipment from a supplier or even lease it from companies like North Star Leasing, Cater Renting, Rental Plus, etc. Leasing is a more cost-effective approach as it can reduce your substantial investment. You can instead pay monthly rent for the kitchen equipment. 

9. Implement a Self-Serve Kiosk 

A self-service kiosk is a touchscreen that allows customers to place orders without needing staff. You can easily integrate these kiosks in smaller spaces without compromising customer experience.

Customers can quickly order food, pay, get real-time menu updates, check the dish's availability, and save themselves from long lines. This, in turn, makes the customer experience better and frees up the staff's time, who can work on other tasks and cater to customers more effectively.

10. Go Live

Once you have completed all the steps mentioned above, you are ready to launch your quick-service restaurant. Make sure to create buzz about the QSR before opening it. You can do this through solid marketing, opening discounts, and brand advertisement.

Wrapping Up

The QSR restaurants are constantly increasing and will continue to increase. Thus, it is the right time to start one. By following the steps mentioned above, you can start your QSR, but what matters is the right execution of the steps with the right technology to meet your end goals.

Investing in the right technology in the initial phase of the restaurant can streamline restaurant operations. Solutions like OneHubPOS help optimize your restaurant operations by providing a user-friendly POS system. We offer various features and benefits, enabling you to make real-time menu modifications, pricing, and ordering on a single screen.

Contact us today to learn more!

How do I figure out how much to charge for food?

Pricing is a balancing act! You need to cover your costs (including the food cost per portion) while offering a price point that feels valuable to your customers. Consider factors like competition, target audience, and the overall dining experience you create.

What tools are available for tracking food costs?

Food cost calculators are great for initial estimates, but consider restaurant management software for ongoing success. This software tracks inventory, automates cost calculations, and generates reports to identify cost-saving opportunities.

Can I use a food cost calculator for different types of cuisine?

Absolutely! Many online food cost calculators can handle various cuisines. Look for tools that consider ingredient types, portion sizes, and even regional pricing variations.

How often should I calculate food cost percentage?

Consider your food cost percentage your restaurant's financial fitness tracker. It's the total cost of recipe ingredients divided by your total menu sales. Ideally, calculate this regularly, like weekly or bi-weekly, to monitor profitability and adjust pricing or portions as needed.

What is the standard costing model?

The standard costing model is like a recipe for consistent pricing. It uses historical data and market trends to predict ingredient costs, allowing you to budget, purchase, and maintain profit margins even when prices fluctuate.

What is food cost per portion?

Food cost per portion is the actual cost of creating a single serving of a dish. It considers all ingredients, including spices, garnishes, and even waste!  This number helps you understand your profitability and set menu prices effectively.

Sahana Ananth
Director, GTM - OneHubPOS

Sahana is a seasoned GTM leader with a passion for building startups. She excels in crafting GTM strategies for tech products, driving revenue growth.

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