In today’s competitive market businesses fail at alarming rates. This is especially apparent in the restaurant space. According to Forbes (2017), the failure rate of restaurants (which was once reported as being 80% higher than other types of businesses), is simply lower than reported. In fact, restaurants were found to fail at about the same rate of insurance agencies. While restaurant failure is higher than what most might expect, the chances of success are much greater than you might think. This article will provide 7 ways that you can guarantee restaurant success.
1. Create and Tell a Compelling Story
The most effective way to guarantee success in the restaurant industry is to create and tell a compelling story. There are five core elements of a compelling story.
- Connect with your intended audience. The best stories connect at an emotional level telling your audience why your restaurant exists. What is the story behind the restaurant and its leadership team? You can’t be afraid to really get into the why more specifically you’re why.
- Explain the challenge your customers face. Maybe it’s the need for healthier meal options for dual working parent family. Uncover the challenge and how your restaurant solves it.
- Every great story has some kind of conflict. What are the conflicts your buyers face? Is it time, money, or fear of not getting a great meal for their kids from a fast food place? Whatever the challenge and conflict make sure your compelling story is relatable.
- Communicate clearly how your restaurant can conquer the customer’s fear. For example, if the fear is money, a “kids eat free” message could resonate. However, you must clearly understand the fear before you can conquer it. Some of the suggestions below can help with that.
- Conclude with a clear call to action. For example, “Join us on Monday’s for family night from 6pm to 8pm where kids eat free and drinks are half off.“
2. Understand Your Restaurant’s Unique Position
Another sure way to guarantee the success of your restaurant is through understanding how it is unique in the eyes of the market and most importantly in the eyes of your ideal customer. Is part of your story unique (i.e. founded to train individuals who struggled with the law in the past or designed to employ individuals with disabilities)? What other restaurant choices are in your market? How are you different? Being different is just as important and many times more important than being better. An example of a unique position of a restaurant that might come to mind could be the blackout dining experience. Yes, everything is pitch dark. What this experience does according to food experts is heighten the other senses to deliver a unique food experience. What is your unique position and how does it resonate with your customer profiles?
Being different is just as important and many times more important than being better.
3. Develop Customer Profiles
Knowing your customer (KYC) is a process that is not new to marketing nor the restaurant space. Clearly understanding who your customers are, what they need, want, and like is critical to set your restaurant up for success. Take the time to develop customer profiles but go way beyond demographic information. Try to talk to them. Listen and document how they talk about your restaurant in their words. Repeat what you heard back to the customer and validate the message resonates. Try to get into the details of what they do professionally, what their hobbies and interests are, etc. The more you know the stronger your customer profiles will be. This information results in a better alignment of your restaurant and what the customers are seeking when it comes to their buying decision for a meal.
4. Craft a Clear Message
After you have found out what makes your restaurant’s brand unique and developed strong customer profiles the logical next step is to tell your brand story with a clear message. The most effective way to craft a clear message is to use the language your customers use. Brands that do this have a much better chance of success. Some examples might come to mind:
- “Eating fresh in the neighborhood”
- “There is no place like the neighborhood”
- “License to grill”
- “Eat fresh”
- “I’m lovin’ it”
It’s important that your message is clear and concise and that it goes much further than just a slogan. The message becomes central to your customer and their experience with your brand.
5. Deliver Quality Food and Service
Great food and a remarkable experience are where great and growing restaurants stand out. Some of the slogan messages above are strong messages but the experience with both the food and service is less than desired. You must deliver a food and guest experience that is memorable. For example, imagine a hostess that greats the guest by the last name as the result of the reservation and who knows they just came from downtown after rush traffic. A hostess who can have a real conversation with the guest can go a long way to setting the stage. Then continue to deliver that experience with every staff interaction. Deliver food that is prepared right and with the highest possible quality ingredients. Make sure the guest knows the effort that goes into getting it right. It’s a strong message delivering a wedge salad to the table while letting the guest know that the iceberg lettuce was grown on an organic farm 3 miles away. When it comes to delivery, it is all about the genuine wow factor you can provide.
Make sure the guest knows the effort that goes into getting it right.
6. Reward Loyalty
Guests who dine with you often should be rewarded. Get to know them and welcome them as friends to your establishment. Rewards do not always need to be monetary. Rewarding a guest with a personalized welcome card at the table could be enough. Change rewards up and keep them fresh. Discounts and spur of the moment giveaways can be unique. Everyone else gives points, while not a bad idea, it’s also not a unique idea. Get outside of the norm and be unique yet again with rewarding loyalty. Partner with the neighborhood movie theater and give away tickets to guests who just showed up at your restaurant for the 5th time.
7. Invest in the Brand Experience
By now you’ve probably got the understanding that investing in your restaurants brand experience is the cornerstone of guaranteed success. If you are not able or willing to invest in the guest experience with your restaurant brand, you probably should take a step back and re-evaluate your strategy. Make sure your brand experience is connected with your digital and physical brand identity. The look, feel smell, taste, and smell all come together in a unique way when it comes to branding a restaurant. Invest in all senses for the best impact.
In summary, these 7 ways can help your restaurant succeed at a much higher rate than the industry average. Pulling in outside resources to help profile your customers, craft your brand message, and develop the customer experience is an effective method to get it right. You can focus expertise on delivering the food and guest experience, while an expert third party helps communicate your unique position.