Whether you're developing your first concept or talking to restaurant investors about expansion, a compelling restaurant pitch is critical. Learning how to sell a restaurant idea to investors helps operators cover the costs of leasing space, professional-grade equipment, staffing, ingredients, and more.
American entrepreneurs spend a median $375,000 opening a restaurant — and Australians spend an average of $650,000. You might be in a position to bootstrap your startup costs or secure a business loan. But more often than not, current or aspiring restaurateurs partner with restaurant investors to secure initial capital.
In this post, we'll discuss why restaurant investors might make sense for your business — and how you can win them over with an impressive restaurant pitch deck.
Why work with restaurant investors?
Even if you're lucky enough to have the startup capital to open your business, it still might be a good idea to take out a small business loan if you can get one. Either way, there's a lot of personal risk involved. But when working alongside outside restaurant investors, you distribute the risk and have access to higher operating cash reserves.
On top of offering to finance your business, qualified restaurant investors have the operating and expansion experience, industry credibility, and business savvy to help your restaurant succeed. Especially when you are independent or have a small team, this additional guidance can help you generate sales and streamline operations with less trial and error.
If you're part of a large restaurant group with business resources, restaurant investors can also be a valuable partner as you navigate publicity, brand partnerships, and more.
How to perfect your restaurant pitch deck
Here are four tips on how to sell a restaurant idea to restaurant investors so you can secure the funding you need.
1. Envision your ideal investor
Working with a restaurant investor involves entering into a professional relationship that will significantly impact the future of your business. Identifying investors who align with your overall goals and ideals is the best first step you can take. You understand the importance of dedicating energy to researching your ideal customer, and it's important to apply the same mentality when it comes to your ideal financial partners. Opening or expanding a restaurant with an investor is a team effort that often requires extensive collaboration and cooperation, so it's important to consider what you want the nature of your business partnership to look like from the start.
2. Share your story — and why you're the person to bring this restaurant to life
Some of the best business stories start with personal anecdotes, which help establish grounds for respect and belief from potential restaurant investors. Maybe you're starting a Polish eatery using your grandmother's family recipes, or you're an athlete committed to bringing customers healthy, nutritious food. Give potential restaurant investors an idea of who you are, what credentials you have, and why you're committed to making this business a reality. Your personality and passion will help set up a winning restaurant pitch.
3. Provide a vision and concise elevator pitch
Right away, restaurant investors will want to know what your concept is and how you're executing it. Have a concise restaurant elevator pitch you can deliver to restaurant investors in one minute. To master this part of the restaurant pitch, include the who, what, when, where, why, and how of your restaurant:
Who you serve
What type of experience you'll bring
When you'll hit key milestones in your opening timeline
Where your location(s) will be
Why now is the right time to open your restaurant
How you'll execute it
During your restaurant pitch, project the confidence of an entrepreneur who's ready to feed the masses, and outline how your restaurant will deliver a plentiful return on investment.
4. Respect your investors' time
Your business is your passion, so it's easy to get sidetracked or waste time on irrelevant tangents when pitching a restaurant concept. While showing potential partners your personality can help set you apart, staying focused and on-track is crucial to a successful pitch. Being concise lets your investors know you're conscientious of the time they have taken out of their busy schedules to hear your restaurant pitch.
At the end of the day, you should appeal to investors rationally and emotionally by answering the question, "what's in it for me?".
5. Emphasize what makes your restaurant different
Investors hear hundreds of restaurant pitches, so you need to find a way to stand out. Don't just tell them what your business is — show them why they should care. Differentiation is a key part of a restaurant pitch, since it illustrates that you're fulfilling a need and convinces restaurant investors their dollars will pay off. For example, maybe a competitor in your space doesn't offer online ordering — and you know that you'll launch with a delivery-first strategy. Now's the time to share the smart, strategic decisions you have made to make your restaurant pitch deck stand out.
6. Demonstrate your understanding of the target market and key competitors
Restaurant investors want to know that you have a plan to reach new customers — and a strategy to cut through the noise of similar establishments. Include your target customers in your restaurant pitch deck. Will your regulars be the late-night college crowd, busy business professionals, or perhaps you'll target trendy Millennials? What are you doing that the existing neighborhood spot isn't? Or maybe you're the first to bring Asian fusion cuisine to your area. Show off how informed you are about your market — and you'll win over restaurant investors.
7. Provide solutions
Though your business falls in the service industry, you can create a compelling story behind how your restaurant will fill a major gap. Consider pitching your restaurant concept as a solution rather than a service.
For example, if your area lacks convenient, affordable choices for the work-from-home crowd, try pitching your restaurant as a solution to this problem by offering reliable pick-up and delivery options. If your neighborhood doesn't have menu items that can be scaled to accommodate large catering orders, emphasize how your concept will create the change you hope to see.
8. Introduce investors to your team
Opening or expanding a business isn't a one-person show. Having a solid support system of multi-talented individuals is essential. Whether you have a master chef, talented beverage director, or experienced front-of-house manager behind you, letting potential restaurant investors know who's on your side is advantageous to both parties. Not only will it instill their confidence in you, but it will also give them a realistic idea of who they'll be working with in the future. Make potential investors aware of:
Public relations and marketing partners
Technology platforms you plan to utilize
Your industry connections
How many FOH staff you'll employ
How many BOH staff you'll employ
The experience your key players possess
9. Map out your marketing strategy
Opening the doors to your restaurant is only a small fraction of what's required to attract and retain a loyal customer base. Outlining a robust marketing strategy as part of your pitch can help answer key questions about how you plan to approach making and keeping your business profitable. Use your pitch to address the following marketing concerns:
Social media strategy
Customer loyalty programs
Large order discounts
Delivery and pick-up incentives
Merchandise and branding
Showing investors how you'll build awareness can make them confident in your ability to capture an audience and make sales.
10. Emphasize your ability to adapt
The restaurant world is constantly changing and evolving. Show potential investors your agility and adaptability in a volatile industry to generate a strong sense of security. The ability to pivot your business instantly is something you should emphasize as you discuss the future of your business.
No matter how much time you spend crunching numbers or making realistic projections, you can't predict the future. However, you can build secure strategies to adjust to unforeseen circumstances.
11. Turn your pitch into an experience
A memorable and multifaceted pitch will help potential investors connect with your business. Include graphics, mood boards, interior design schemes, and sample menus to help bring your vision to life. If it's appropriate and time allows, you can even have potential restaurant investors sample dishes as part of your pitch.
Hospitality professionals know a restaurant isn't just about offering delicious food—it's about creating an overall experience. Pitching a restaurant is no exception. Your pitch can serve as a great opportunity to convey the vibe and atmosphere you want to capture.
12. Get into the specifics
Wrap up your restaurant pitch deck by getting into the tactics and details. If you have sales projections, a launch timeline, potential real estate deals, or existing investors and partners — now is the time to share that information. Additionally, you'll want to map out how you'll use the investment, whether it's for kitchen equipment or hiring a world-class staff. Giving potential restaurant investors a clear sense of where you are in your journey can go a long way.
13. Be prepared for questions
No matter how thorough your pitch may be, savvy investors are going to ask high-stakes questions. Prepare yourself with smart, honest, knowledge-based answers and you'll never be left faltering. Highlight your forward-thinking and attention to detail. You might not be able to foresee every question that will arise, but being prepared will enable you to stay calm and collected in any situation.
Restaurant investors want to understand every facet of your business. From menu items and labor costs to permitting issues and potential pitfalls, nothing is off-limits. Get ready to answer big questions (such as if you have a plan for expansion) as well as smaller ones (like which POS you plan to use). This lets investors know you've done your research.
14. Don't hesitate to ask for help
Once you've prepared the perfect pitch, it's important to practice your delivery before presenting to potential investors. Ironing out even the smallest details by practicing your pitch in front of friends, colleagues, or family members can make a huge difference when it's time for the big day.
Seeking guidance from other industry professionals about their experiences with restaurant investors can provide useful insight. Knowing where to turn for strategic advice is a smart move that will serve you and your restaurant well in the long run.
15. Incorporate constructive feedback
As you rehearse your pitch, stay open to constructive criticism from your practice audience and even investors. They can give you feedback on aspects of your presentation that require an outside point of view—such as eye contact or posture.
Finally, remember that finding an investor can take time, and you won't always find the right match on your first attempt. No matter what the outcome of your pitch may be, viewing it as a learning experience will make your concept and execution stronger. If your presentation doesn't go the way you intend it to, take an honest look at what you can improve to set yourself up for success the next time around.
Securing the investment
Ideally, by the end of your thoughtfully crafted restaurant pitch, your audience should be on the edge of their seats, ready to invest. But if you've never worked with an investor before, there's a lot more to an investment than the dollar amount. In order to ensure a successful partnership with restaurant investors, consider the following:
Is the investor treating this as a partnership?
Will I still have primary ownership of my restaurant business?
Are there any contingencies attached to the offer?
Does the structure of the deal match where you want to take your business?
What value will the investor contribute besides funding (e.g., industry relationships, marketing experience, supply chain knowledge)?
The most important thing to ensure a successful partnership is knowing your restaurant investors truly identify with your vision and will help you achieve it. With these tips for a successful restaurant pitch, you'll be in a good position to accomplish your goals.
To learn even more about funding, financing, and crafting a business plan, explore our guide Financing Your Restaurant and Projecting Profits.
Partnering with DoorDash to reach more customers with online delivery can help make your business more attractive to investors.