• How do you launch a new place the right way?
If your restaurant or bar is new, it must be properly positioned in the market and launched in the right way. If you do this, you'll get a huge boost of business that you can build off of for years. The key is designing a concept that fits with the demographics of your local area. Then it comes down to doing the public relations and advance marketing to generate interest in your new place starting 90 days before it opens.
• How you get more sales in (for an existing business)?
If you have been around for some time, you have to assess where you are in the market and go from there. No matter what you think, the customers will have a firm idea of what you do well there. If part of this is good, you build off of that and use marketing to increase the effect of your good thing. Meanwhile you eliminate or minimize the stuff you aren't good at.
• Your concept, name and the story you tell about your business is incredible important.
This is where you start and everything flows from here. People need a story of what you are doing and why you are doing it so they can relate to it on a personal level.
• Once you are open, everything comes down to management.
You need a clear vision and company culture. It is the job of the ownership to hire a general manager that can implement this on a daily basis. The more consistent the staff is with delivering on the vision, story and culture, the more successful you will be.
• What do you do if one or more of these keys is missing?
You might have to change the concept and start over. You can work your way out of previous bad management or a misguided concept. It is hard but not impossible. Frequently its cheaper and easier to spend $100k-$200k and flip a place than it is to work your way out of a hole. I would take a long hard look at this options on this.