The restaurant business is highly competitive. New competitors enter your market fairly regularly to steal your clients. Hence, you need to constantly find new ways to raise the bar and adopt strategies to beat the restaurant competition without lowering your profits.
1. Know your competition
To beat the competition at their own game, it’s important that you know them well. Visit their restaurants and find out how tasteful their ambience is, how their food tastes, and how good their service standards are. You can compare their food quality and service standards with yours, and then take the necessary action.
Also, to know their marketing efforts, subscribe to their email list and follow their brands on social media. This will help you formulate your own marketing strategies.
2. Price the menu right
Your menu is your most powerful tool. A well-designed and well-executed menu can increase a restaurant’s profits by 10-15%.Hence; give it a lot of thought.
While deciding your menu, take a look at what your competitors are charging for the same kind of food items. However, that should not be the deciding factor of your menu. Because trying to match your competitors’ pricing or retaliatory price slashing might not be profitable and sustainable in the long run.
Keep a tab on your highest selling and low selling items. If you think your customers would be willing to pay for your star items, you can increase their prices or push them more, while you can decrease the number of dogs in your menu.
3. Sell your USP
Once you know your competition well, you can identify what it is you offer that is unique or special. If you do not have a unique selling proposition that separates you from your competition, you need to establish it to stay in the business.
But, if you can identify one (it can be a signature dish, award winning chef, incredible or super quick service, or kid friendly menu), you need to start building on it. Integrate it in your marketing messages and spread the word through your service team (servers, managers, chefs, etc.).
For example, Tabula Cafe in Delhi advertises itself as a petfriendly place. Given that there are so few eateries that welcome pets, Tabula gets a major thumbs up from the patrons.
Another interesting example is of Indian Accent from Delhi, which is the only Indian restaurant to make it to the world’s top 100. Here, chefs, if need be, come to the tables and explain the dishes to the guests. However, it’s USP lies in its inventiveness shown in the modern Indian dishes, which look like pieces of art. Even MasterChef Australia famed judge and chef Gary Mahigan has praised this restaurant.
4. Train your staff
In the hospitality business, you can never be polite enough. And, that’s what your staff needs to learn. Make sure your staff, right from the valet to front doorman, waitpersons and hosts are polite and courteous. Take up weekly meetings with your staff in order to reiterate the rules. Also, your staff must be trained enough to answer any patron’s questions about a menu item. It’s very frustrating to talk to a person who doesn’t have an inkling about the menu or looks confused. Allow them to taste the day or night specials so that they are able to answer all questions pertaining to the menu. Your guests should get the best treatment and be made to feel welcome, special and important, and only your staff can ensure of that happening.
5. Make use of technology
Today, technology has become an integral part of a person’s life, and can prove to be an important arsenal in the business warfare or if you like your personal magic wand.
People like to be connected to the Internet or social media 24/7; so make sure your restaurant provides free wi-fi to your guests. Build a mobile friendly website as people like to look up restaurants on their mobile phones. Offer digital tablets to order food, and mobile payment options and tableside payment stations for the convenience of payment to your guests and quicker table turns for you.
Also, installing a state of the art POS system can take care of your inventory management and customer information helping you make your business more efficient and customer friendly. For instance, through a good POS system, you can know what are your clients ordering, it can help you run those specials. Or, that a large percentage of your lunch comes from corporate professionals, hence you need to make sure your staff understands that your guests are on a strict timeline, hence the service must be quick and efficient.
6. Market well
Stay connected with and to your customers. Make use of the right marketing channels to reach to your clients. Whether through email or SMS marketing or via cost-efficient social media platforms, stay in touch with your customers by regularly updating them with vital information or any other content you feel will be useful to them. Your informative and friendly messages will help you stay on the top of their minds, and they will repay by patronizing you.
7. Check the quality of food
You can make all the changes in the world; redesign your menu, slash your prices, polish your cutlery, give discounts or install a good POS, but at the end, whether you can beat the competition largely depends on the quality of food served at your restaurant. The food should be appealing, appetizing and consistent to make your clientele keep coming back to you.
It may take you a while to find the secret recipe that makes your restaurant stand out from the crowd. However, starting with these basics is the first step towards success.