You will agree with me that the fast food restaurant business is one of the most lucrative businesses in any country. This is because, food is a necessity and at such no one can do without it. Fast food restaurant business have become very popular in Nigeria because of the quick nature of their services and varieties in food menu. A lot of local restaurants are upgrading to become fast food restaurants by the day.
Fast food restaurants, otherwise known as quick service restaurants (QSR) or eatery, are specific food outlets that specialize in the fast and efficient preparation of foods that are always ready for take out at an affordable price. They also provide seating arrangements for customers who want to eat their food in the restaurant.
Like the name implies, one of the benefits of fast food restaurants is that, it is fast and efficient. This means that people can get food on-the-go, without wasting time and the food can be packed and ready for takeout at any time. It is convenient and affordable. You don’t have to go through the stress of preparing your own meal if you don’t want to, all you need to do is locate the nearest fast food restaurant, and you can get varieties of food that you may not even be able to prepare by yourself at home.
People working at a far distance have to leave their homes very early in the morning and by this time they cannot do any cooking of their own, they resort to buying food from fast food restaurants, which is a plus for you as a business man or woman. Running a fast food restaurant business in a strategic location will boost patronage and grow your business exponentially.
The president of the association of fast food and confectioners of Nigeria told newsmen that fast foods contribute up to N200 billion in the growth of the economy annually and that all its members pay up to N1 billion in taxes and levies. This is proof that the business is vying. Let us take a close look at some of the popular brands of fast food restaurants in Nigeria and how they came to be.
In 1985, United African Company (UAC) launched a fast food restaurant chain in Nigeria popularly known as “Mr. Bigg’s” (one of Nigeria’s first and biggest fast food restaurant franchise). Prior to that time, the fast food industry was dominated by multinational companies like Leventis, Kingsway and UTC, whose set-up was mainly for the elite and mostly located in big cities like Lagos, Ibadan and Port Harcourt. The majority of Nigerians who found the UTC snacks and Leventis stores too expensive had options of local restaurant settings commonly called, ‘mama put’ or ‘buka’.
Mr. Bigg’s brought a revolution into the fast food industry in Nigeria. It made cultural and local dishes as well as pastries available to the average Nigerian at an affordable price. So that, low income earners too can have the fast food restaurant experience as much as the rich do. So far, Mr. Biggs have up to 130 outlets across Nigeria controlling about 45% of the fast food industry in Nigeria and currently has two outlets in Ghana.
Kehinde Kamson, the founder of Sweet sensation confectionery limited, was a full time accountant when she established a confectionery business which she called “citicate-city caterers”. She would wake up early in the morning to make and distribute her pastries before heading to work. As the business grew, her pastries became very popular, especially in Unilag and her customer base increased tremendously. She had no choice than to quit her job as an accountant and run her confectionery business full time.
After four years of supplying pastries to big companies like UTC and Mr. Bigg’s, she started Sweet Sensation at a backyard shed in her family home and since then, her company has moved up the ladder with a number of outlets in Victoria Island, Ogba, Opebi and other parts of Lagos. She drew inspiration from one of her big clients, as she said, “Mr. Biggs inspired me beyond Imagination”. Amidst the influx of new brands in the fast food industry, consumers still consider Sweet sensation as a market leader in African cuisine.
These and many more are success stories of fast food restaurants in Nigeria. The good news is; you can start your own fast food restaurant with your business name (small or large scale), you can also buy popular fast food franchises.
Fast food restaurant business, like any other business requires that you study the terrain before you start the business. The following are some of the things you need to do when setting up a fast food restaurant in Nigeria.
Draw Your Business Plan
Everyone knows that the first thing to do when starting any business is to plan, and fast food restaurant business is not an exception. A business plan is like a to-do-list, where you have all the steps you want to take in starting your business written down.
Your business plan will include where you want your business to be located, which should be somewhere open, easily accessible and spacious. You must also make the location accommodating and comfortable for your customers. Nobody wants to eat in an uncomfortable environment. Good sitting arrangements, entertainment facilities like flat screen TVs connected to cable networks, Air conditioners (AC) at all angles of the restaurant to keep the atmosphere conducive, these are some of the measures you can use in making your restaurant conducive for your customers.
When you have considered the cost of putting all the measures discussed above in place with estimates of how much you will be needing to start the business itself. This will bring you to the next question, which is; how much capital you will need for the business and how do you intend to get it? You are lucky if you already have enough money to cover the start-up costs, but it is always advisable to play it safe by sourcing for more funds, either by obtaining loans from banks or borrowing from friends and family. This is to ensure that whatever miscellaneous expenditures that may arise along the line are sufficiently covered for.
Let’s not forget the fact that you have to register your business, in line with the provisions of the Law in Nigeria. You can choose to register as a business enterprise or as a limited liability company with the corporate affairs commission (CAC). It is also important that you register your QSR with the association of fast food and confectioners of Nigeria (AFFCON).
Buy a Popular Fast Food Franchise
Buying a franchise is one of the best ways to become an entrepreneur. In Nigeria here, most of the successful fast food brands are franchises. You might want to ask what a franchise is, a franchise is a legally binding agreement between two independent parties (franchisor and franchisee), in which the franchisor authorizes the franchisee to market a product/service in the trade name and brand of the franchisor.
Buying a fast food franchise will make the business boom quickly, unlike when you are running the business with your own brand. This is because, the brand you are buying a franchise from is already renowned. So, customers do not need extra canvassing because they already know the brand name and can easily relate with it.
Some successful franchise fast food businesses in Nigeria are the United African Company of Nigeria PLC’s “Mr. Bigg’s”, KFC and so on.
Choose Your Style Of Service And Menu
If you are not buying a franchise, then it is important that you choose your style of service.What type of food will you specialize in? Will you be making continental or local dishes? Will it be a combination of local and continental dishes with pastries and confectioneries?
Whether you are buying a franchise or not, it is equally important that you make a list of foods (menu) that will always be available in your restaurant with their prices.
Employ Good Chefs And Staff
A good chef makes a great restaurant. It’s not enough to have a big brand name and a huge outlet, the cuisines have to be up to standard and more. Therefore, before employing a chef, make sure that he is a great one and that he or she has had training in the preparation of different types of food.
You also need to employ the service of attendants or waiters and waitresses, depending on the style of service you have chosen. Ensure that you make varieties of food available at all times.
Run a Take-out/Delivery Service
This is another way in which fast food restaurants in Nigeria are upping their game. You don’t have to wait until customers come to your outlet to purchase food, you can as well take it to them. This works well for bankers and corporate entities, all your customers need to do is make their order known to you and you can take the food to them wherever they are.
You can also run a mobile outlet, where you have your foods in a van that bears your brand name, going from one place to the other. It will help customers buy your foods anywhere they find your mobile outlet without necessarily having to come to where your business is located.
It is important to note that as much as the food business is lucrative in Nigeria, there are a lot of competition. Therefore, after you have put all of the measures I have discussed in place, you need continuous market research and development to keep your business going in the right direction.