How to make your restaurant stand out
So you have a nice restaurant with good food and service and yet the dining room is not always full. You spend a lot of money on marketing and wonder why it’s not working for you.
Well, let me tell you, there are many other restaurants with great food, good service, and a nice atmosphere, so your place might not be as special in the eyes of your customers as you would like it to be.
Put yourself in the shoes of your customers. Why should they come to your restaurant instead of visiting one of your competitors?
Well, the truth is, if you stand out from other local options, they probably won’t.
You have to think hard about your place and what makes it special or different from any other restaurant. And believe me, it’s different. No two restaurants are the same (except in the case of franchises, which, by definition, want to look and operate exactly the same).
So what makes your restaurant special or different?
You need to articulate the essence of your restaurant, the essence of your offering, so people know why they should go to your place over your competitors. This is called your Unique Selling Proposition (or USP).
You must create and advertise a USP that identifies your restaurant and makes it a unique establishment.
So how can you do that? Don’t worry, I’ll help you. Just follow these three easy steps and you’ll be on your way to creating your own USP:
1. Make a list of the real benefits or advantages that you currently offer to your customers.
Think about what is special about your restaurant. Is it your food? Your selection of wines? Your service? Your location? Your decorations? Do you offer live music? Do you have a large menu selection? Open kitchen? Etc.
Ask your customers, your employees and your suppliers what makes your restaurant special or different. Maybe you have a unique recipe that people really appreciate and enjoy, or maybe your chef steps out of the kitchen and greets customers, or you have bilingual servers who can communicate with foreign travelers in their native languages.
Some aspects that can help you determine your USP are:
o Wide variety of dishes on the menu
o Unique, ethnic foods or menu items.
o Restaurant specially designed to accommodate families (with a play area or toys or entertainment for children, etc.)
o Reasonable prices
o Quality of food
o Originality of the dishes
o Impeccable presentation
o Excellent service (good is not good enough: it has to be excellent to have an impact!)
o Wide selection of wines or hard to find specialty wines
o Wide selection of hard to find beers or specialty beers
o Special cocktails
o Open kitchen where people can see/talk to your cooks
o Beautifully decorated place
or live music
o Candles on the tables
o Fabric bedding
o Original art on the walls
o Any other distinctive advantage you may have or may provide that your competitors do not provide.
2. Make a second list of benefits or special things that your competitors offer but you don’t.
For example, do you have a big place and your restaurant is small? Do they offer a full bar and you don’t? Do they have a super chef with a reputation that you can’t offer? Do they have a great location while your place is out of the way?
3. List ways you could enhance your competitor’s unique advantages.
If their place is large and yours is small, you can take advantage of it by stating that you offer “A unique experience in a cozy atmosphere where you will receive a very personalized treatment”.
Or the other way around: if your venue is large, you can say “We have facilities large enough to accommodate your office party or special occasion.”
Or you can make up for not having a full bar by offering a wide and excellent selection of wines.
If you have a great location, say it’s “conveniently located in the center of town, within walking distance of…”
Or if you’re out of the way, you can always say “our restaurant offers free parking and it’s worth the trip as you’re sure to have an extraordinary dining experience…”
You get the idea right?
So write down the top five advantages and/or differentiators that make your place unique. Then combine them into a short sentence or phrase.
This will become your USP
Once you’ve created your USP, write, revise, and edit it several times to make it as clear and complete as possible.
Write your new USP in a one paragraph statement. You may have trouble expressing it concisely and clearly. It may take a few paragraphs. It’s okay.
Now you need to edit out all the fluff (trim the fat) and focus on the core message until you have a clear and unique USP that people will immediately recognize and identify with your restaurant. It has to become a memorable phrase.
Share it with your employees; share it with your customers. Announce it to the world by using it in all your marketing and sales materials…
Remember, attention spans are getting shorter these days, so your USP needs to be short and memorable.
If you follow a few of these techniques and create a powerful and memorable UPS, you’ll be ahead of your competitors who simply advertise their restaurants in the more traditional way.
People respond to short, catchy messages. If you can articulate the essence of your place in a few precise words and consistently use them to promote your business, you should be able to stand out from the crowd.