Whether the business plan is in the beginning stages or the prep work has begun for a large investor meeting, creating a pitch deck is often a crucial step in opening a restaurant. It’s a sales pitch for attracting investors. Once you’ve decided on the restaurant concept, start thinking of how you, as the restaurant owner, want to sell potential partners on the vision.
A pitch deck is a concise, visual version of your business plan. It allows potential investors to easily follow along with the concept throughout the duration of the presentation. The best business plans are ripe with material. But many lose their impact due to an information overload—too many words and not enough graphics.
Time is limited in a pitch meeting, so it’s imperative that the vision is clear and concisely communicated from the start.
How to design your deck
A well-designed pitch deck illustrates key points and helps potential investors understand the restaurant’s goals. To ensure the deck makes an impact:
- Decide on a platform: There are plenty of free platforms that can help build out a pitch deck with ease. Google Slides offers free, customizable slideshow templates that you can use to collaborate with the restaurant designer. Canva is another great option if the restaurant is looking for a larger portfolio of templates. Just be sure that the restaurant’s brand identity matches whatever template you choose.
- Keep it short: The deck should be no more than 10-15 pages (printed) or slides (digital presentation)
- Use your business plan: The business materials should all share a cohesive and obvious vision for the restaurant. Treat the business plan as an outline for the pitch deck, with one slide representing one section. Repeat the exact words in both documents for more important sections (like describing the concept).
- Less is more: Remember, the pitch deck should complement the business plan with visuals. Limit slides to 10 words each for maximum impact. The goal is to talk through—not read—the slides. Remember, the pitch deck is meant to be an overview. Potential investors can dive into the business plan to find further details on financial projections or all of the dishes on the sample menu.
- Visuals are key: Think of the key audience—potential investors and potential guests—when building out the presentation and incorporate images that will engage them. If possible, include original photography that shows off the staff, the space, and illustrates dishes in development. Otherwise, use stock photos that reflect the restaurant brand and what it hopes to do. Feel free to include both types of visuals; whatever best represents the restaurant’s vibe.
- Be cohesive: Keep the entire deck sharp, professional, and on brand. Make sure that it aligns with the business plan and all other marketing materials. Conflicting statements could result in a red flag for investors so be clear with expectations and goals from the start.
Building out the presentation
After you’ve outlined the pitch deck, start thinking about how to portray the restaurant. Think of the pitch deck as more than just the content on the slides—it’s an opportunity to demonstrate the entire restaurant vibe and experience.
- Start with the elevator pitch: Off the bat, introduce what this restaurant is going to be. The elevator pitch should be under a minute and should succinctly describe the theme of the presentation.
- Make sure to touch on: who the target guest is, what the experience will be, when you’ll meet key deadlines, where the location will be, why the restaurant is unique, and how it’ll come to fruition.
- Make it personal: Anecdotes can be a business owner’s best friend in an otherwise technical pitch. Take the time to clearly explain what makes this restaurant different and don’t be afraid to share personal stories. Adding in personal touches will not only help pique an investor’s interest, but can help build brand loyalty with guests later on.
- Show the research: The pitch deck can include minimal text while also highlighting statistics. Be sure to demonstrate an understanding of the target market and examine key competitors. Investors will want to know how the restaurant intends to reach new customers and stand out from the competition.
You’ve done your homework—explain that there is a clear plan to adapt when facing adversity and provide solutions that illustrate this. Touch on the marketing strategy and direct investors back to the business plan for further details.
- Have some fun with it: This is the moment to let the restaurant shine. The pitch should always be professional, but is also a great opportunity to illustrate what the restaurant is all about. Introduce investors to the team, include a mood board, even consider sampling some concept dishes.
Once the deck is built, begin preparations to present it. Getting potential investors in the room can be the most difficult part of opening a restaurant. Make the most of this time by preparing for every scenario.
Start by sharing the business plan with people who are experts in areas that you’re not. Critical feedback is a vital part of opening and growing a successful restaurant. Ask trusted friends and colleagues to look over the business plan and pitch deck to see where it might’ve fallen short. It’s hard to see the big picture from inside the frame.
Take the time to rehearse the deck. Have advisors ask new questions on the spot to prepare for any that might arise during the actual presentation. And while every run through might go smoothly, remember that investors will ask high stakes questions that you might not know the answer to. Use the pitch meeting as a learning opportunity and incorporate constructive feedback after the fact.
On the day of, bring a digital version and hard copy of the pitch deck to meetings. If there’s a technology fluke, it ensures there’s a back up so the presentation can move forward as planned.
Lastly, bring the passion. This presentation and pitch deck are a representation of the restaurant brand. Demonstrate that it’s something to be proud of. An exhibition of enthusiasm can inspire potential investors to get involved and an illustrative pitch deck can establish why this restaurant is the one to bet on.