How to Make Your Restaurant Stand Out From the Competition

Everyone loves going out to eat. Treating yourself to one of a wide range of cuisines can make a long day or week worthwhile. Where there’s demand, supply will follow—so it’s no surprise that the marketplace has spawned a host of restaurants to choose between. While this is a blessing for customers, it makes for some pretty harsh competition.

One out of five restaurateurs cites a flooded marketplace as one of the biggest challenges they face. As a small business owner, you need to leverage everything in your arsenal to stand out from competitors. Most customers don’t have a clear idea of what they want for dinner before they start shopping around, so success hinges on finding what makes you special and developing a marketing strategy around it.

Finding Your Appeal

To find out what separates you from the crowd, assess each aspect of your business and make a concerted effort to emphasize your most distinguishing features.

Identify Your Target Audience

First and foremost, you need to identify who you want to attract to your business. Then find your customer persona, too. A customer persona details the demographic profile of your most frequent guests, i.e. college students or businesspeople? Families or couples? If you’re like most restaurants, you’ll have several customer personas, but identify your top three most frequent customer types that you see. Ask your employees for help, since they’re on the front lines and can best identify your regulars, those best and most loyal guests.

Narrow Down the Competition

Your competitor pool may be larger or smaller than you think. By figuring out how your best customers get to your restaurant, you can determine what other choices they passed over to find you.

  • Track their digital footprint. What keywords are customers using to find you online? Are they searching for you by your cuisine, most popular dish, or dining style? When you know how customers found out about you, you can find your competitors by looking up the same keywords and seeing who else comes up in the same search.
  • Identify how your customers get to you. If it’s mainly foot traffic, search within a mile. If you’re near public transport lines, search for the closest bus stops and train stations. If they come by car, search within a ten-mile radius. When you know how people get to you, you can see who else is situated nearby.

When you know which restaurants your customers passed over to get to you, you can optimize your own operations more effectively to give yourself an edge—now that you understand who it is you’re trying to get an edge over.

Find Core Competencies

Once you understand the audience you’re appealing to and the competition you need to beat, identify the distinguishing features that make you stand out from the crowd. Your core competencies are what make you special. Is it your ambiance? Your prices? The range and taste of your menu?

Strengthening Your Appeal

If you can’t immediately identify what makes you stand out from your competitors, then develop a unique brand for yourself. Brainstorm and develop something unique to use in your marketing copy. Here are some ideas to get started:

  • Create an inviting atmosphere with nice decorations or a pretty view. Invite more foot traffic by putting art, your logo or even some flowers in the window that people can see from the street.
  • Revitalize your patio section or outdoor seating area so it looks attractive from the outside. Post pictures on your social media to broadcast the set-up and entice customers to come see it in person.
  • Craft a delicious drinks menu! Everybody loves a good happy hour special; make or import craft beers, local wines or new cocktails for guests to try with their meals.
  • Presentation matters. Even the most generic dish on the menu will seem extra appealing if it’s plated and served in an unusual, interesting manner.
  • Great staff makes or breaks the experience. Curating top-quality candidates through the interview process will lower your overall turnover rates and make for a better customer experience every time. Read more about how to hire a great staff.

Make use of technology too. Now, the most advanced devices on the market make it easy to manage and control a lot of these nebulous factors. Track and analyze sales data, guest surveys, staff performance, and more when you sign on for any of our eatOS devices. Get a demo today and let us help your restaurant stand out and really make an impression.

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