Getting your good food to people who will enjoy it—that is the goal. Your small family restaurant is an important part of the community that you are living in, but sometimes it’s hard to know how you can compete with bigger restaurants. Of course, having amazing food is the best place to start, but what after that? Here is a list to help get you started.
1. Offer Excellent Customer Service
An integral part of your restaurant is the atmosphere that it provides. A big part of providing a good atmosphere for your customers is providing excellent customer service. Offering good customer service is also a great way to help your patrons come back.
There are many parts of offering good customer service. Doing a simple training for your employees to help them become more adept in customer service and asking your customers for honest feedback is definitely worth the extra time and effort.
2. Build Your Reputation
You start your reputation by offering wonderful food and customer service. You build your reputation by getting your reputation out there where people can find it. You can do this by getting online reviews. This can transform your business’ reputation. When people come from out of town or are just looking for a new place to eat in town, they will often turn to Google reviews or Yelp reviews to see if a restaurant is worth the stop.
Help potential customers know about what you have to offer by asking your current customers to rate you online. Because you have offered them fantastic food and great customer service, many times they will be more than willing to give you a great review. It may be awkward or hard to know the best way to ask for reviews, but it is worth it.
3. Give Your Restaurant a Makeover
Giving your restaurant a makeover can revitalize your business and spice it back up. Your regulars will enjoy the change and you’ll draw a new crowd to your restaurant. Just a simple coating of paint can do wonders, but don’t limit your restaurant makeover ideas to just color. Carefully considering the seating, tables, floor and wall coverings can make your restaurant cozy or new and exciting. Finding uniforms for your servers that look sharp and clean that match your branding, figuring out what music best fits with the atmosphere, and even focusing on the smell of your restaurant can help draw in new and curious customers.
4. Leverage New Technology
It can be intimidating to consider new technology for your restaurant, especially if you have been around a while and have been doing things the same way for years. You don’t have to abandon those practices, but finding some new technology to help you make your restaurant more efficient and help you know how things are going will help your restaurant rise above the pack.
For example, embracing some of the same online ordering and POS technologies that new restaurants are using can help you compete with bigger restaurants. Using a POS system can increase profitability for your restaurant by helping you keep better track of transactions and purchases.
5. Treat Your Staff Well
This may seem just plain obvious, but here’s the thing: your servers can’t offer good customer service if they aren’t being treated well themselves. Additionally, they won’t talk about where they work if they don’t like it.
If you get loyalty in those that work for you, you will be more likely to find loyalty from those that don’t. It changes the atmosphere in your restaurant, and helps your servers be proud to talk about where they work—both online and offline.
6. Build Social Media Presence
Besides just focusing on your online reviews, a great way for people to find out about your restaurant is through building your social media presence. Social media platforms are also a great place to build a community around your restaurant. You can post videos, pictures, and limited time offers for your restaurant that will help draw people to your restaurant. Regulars can like and share your content and help push your advertising farther. Remember that high quality pictures of actual food from your restaurant is a must.
7. Have a Functional Website
Have you ever wanted to tell your customers how your restaurant came to be, or a story about a particular restaurant? Do you have an easy place for people to go and check out your menu? Your social media can be a great place to put those stories, but creating a good website where those stories and important parts of your restaurant can live that builds your brand is also important. This is a space where you can show how you are different from other restaurants.
A well designed website is a quick stop for your customers to get all the information that they need, and maybe even a good place to put an online ordering system—another technology that could be useful to embrace.
8. Create a Buzz
Creating a buzz is getting people to talk about your restaurant. The more frequently people hear about your restaurant, the more likely they are to come try it out. Getting people talking sounds a lot like getting reviews or expanding your online presence, but those are only a start to getting people talking about your restaurant. Don’t be afraid to get creative! Think of ways that could be specific to your food and location. There are many ideas out there. Consider these ideas:
- Offer limited time offers, such as a free dessert with an entrée order.
- Get involved in your community and offer dinner to the local fire or police station.
- Publish advertisements where people will see them, such as billboards or newspapers.
- Post select recipes from your restaurant on your restaurant’s blog or website.
There are a lot of steps to competing with bigger restaurants, and it may be intimidating, but it’s worth the extra effort. Rest assured that you will still be able to compete and continue providing what you love to your community when you take the right steps.