Opening A New Restaurant: Soft Launch vs Hard Launch

You have done all the hard work of choosing a location, setting up the ambiance, designing your menu, hiring and training your staff, and now you are all set for the grand opening.

But now you face the toughest question-
How to do a successful Restaurant Opening?


You surely want your restaurant sales and marketing to kick-start from the first day itself. So, it becomes important that your restaurant’s initial launch happens spot on!

Because First Impression is the Last Impression, especially in the food industry.
And so, we are here to be your guiding light.


restaurant opening

In this blog, we’ll tell you more about the Soft Launch vs. Hard Launch method of opening your restaurant, explain the benefits of each and then help you decide which suits your restaurant model the best.

Hard launch is like a big bang. Soft launch is like taking small steps, one at a time.


Soft Launch

A soft opening or launch is usually restricted to a smaller customer base. You invite your friends and family, even some food bloggers if you want to have in-industry feedback.

Soft launch gives you the bandwidth of experimentation and restrategizing if anything goes wrong on your opening day event. Many restaurants also do soft launches for new introductions in their menu or special cuisine-based menu. This way, you can get genuine feedback from your loyal customers and can then roll out the dishes for everyone.

Small and medium scale restaurants (with 1 or 2 outlets) can extensively benefit from soft launches. New restaurateurs who are setting up their restaurant business need not invest large capital in their opening day event, instead they can invest it in their restaurant.


Advantages:

  1. Get early feedback

    The biggest advantage of the soft launch process is that it gives you the time and space to restrategize if needed. The people that care about you, like your friends and family, wouldn’t want to see your business suffer and hence, will give you honest feedback about the food, service, ambiance, etc. You can analyze their suggestions and implement the solutions which you think will work best for you.
  1. Experiment with menu

    Generally in the soft launch events, restaurant owners try to experiment with their menu to see which dishes are most well received by their audience. Then accordingly they feature those dishes in their primary menu. This strategy can give you real-time reaction to your recipes and innovations.

soft launch

  1. Train your staff

    The restaurant opening is a big feat for you, and so is it for your staff. Sometimes there could be service lapses or mismanagement on the opening day. On the day of a soft launch such scenarios are still manageable due to a smaller crowd. But you wouldn’t want these to happen when you serve the real customers and so you can train and instruct your staff accordingly, based on their performance on the soft launch day.
  1. Refine your logistic and operations

    Whether the seating arrangement is right?
    Or is the kitchen inventory easy to manage in rush hours?
    Or the restaurant POS software you’re using works efficiently?


    All these questions and similar ones regarding your restaurant logistics, can be accounted for during the soft launch trial. If any of the operations process lags or is proving inefficient then you have one more chance to streamline it before you open your restaurant on a full-scale.

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Hard Launch

Hard launch or also called a grand opening of a restaurant is generally a big-scale event. Restaurants which have set-up all their bases like inventory, staff, seating, menu, etc. are more interested in hard launch as it offers higher revenue gains in the initial months.

If you are expanding into a new city or opening your franchise outlet then hard launch will be more profitable as it gives a major marketing advantage. You could keep an exciting launch offer or a celebrity event to make people aware about your restaurant’s opening day and get the word out in local communities.

Large food chains or restaurants with multiple franchises go for this type of restaurant launch. They have the necessary capital and resources for making their hard launch a success, whereas small and medium scale restaurants generally cannot spend such an amount upfront.



Advantages:

  1. The big hype and publicity

    A lot of large restaurant chains or franchises go all-out for their new outlet opening as it sets them up for a huge PR coverage boost. They garner a good hype for their launch event from online and offline branding. Along with a lucrative launch day offer, you can attract a huge footfall on your opening day via the hard launch method.

  2. Instant Sales Generation

    You’re into the business from the first day onward. A lot of people would have seen your restaurant being set-up and once you open up they surely come to dine once. So on a mega opening you offer them a set stage to try out your restaurant which leads to your first sales generation.

  3. Competitive Advantage

    A minor disadvantage in the soft launch method is that your competitors can capitalize seeing your launch strategy. They can launch a new discount deal or offer something new to their customers, which will then divide your target audience.

    Hard launch event doesn’t give that time to your competitors as you’ve all the sales and marketing strategy pre-planned. You get into the competition from the first day and can acquire your competitor’s customers easily.

  4. Easy Marketing

    Owing to your successful grand launch of the restaurant, brand awareness and customer retention becomes easy. A lot of people in your locality or city are already aware of you now, and you just need to target the right customers to ensure that they try out your restaurant.



Now you know all the pros and cons of both the methods of a successful restaurant opening, so you can easily decide which strategy suits you the best.


If you are starting a restaurant but have not found the ideal restaurant management software to cater your requirements, take a free demo of Petpooja POS.
More than 25,000 restaurants in India are happily using Petpooja.

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