Being able to run a successful restaurant is no mean feat; from conception stage all the way up to serving that first dish for a paying customer, there are many opportunities for things to go awry. In our experience of working with restaurateurs, we have found that more often than not, they share some common issues that affect their chances of success. To aid the discussion of these operational challenges, we are listing our findings here, with some possible solutions to those problems!A Unique Selling Point (USP) Assuming your establishment is not part of a chain, you will need to settle on what you plan to provide to customers; are you an easy-going dining bar? A perfect dating spot? What does the setting contribute to the atmosphere? Like running any other businesses, finding your value proposition and settling on a USP will help you to drive home to your customers why they should choose your restaurant to dine at instead of your competitor across the street. When opening a restaurant in competitive cities like London, Manchester, Edinburgh etc., customers are spoilt for choice and without a hook, your establishment could be left floundering.
Your USP will give you competitive advantage and a clearer brand image. It helps your brand to stick in their minds in the days and weeks after they have visited. It also helps to find the right content and tone of voice to engage with your customers on social media Spend time to work on your USP. What can you offer that other establishments cannot? Answer this and you’ll be well on your way to success.
Menu Pricing/Grouping etc.However, a USP will only get you so far, you will need a strong menu to back that up! Striking a balance between the right amount of items, that cover the tastes of your customers, with strong pricing, consideration of food trend and consistent themes is paramount – as is the design of the document itself!American Restaurant consulting firm, Aaron Allen & associates, created a great little infographic looking into the ‘Psychology of Menu Design’ with some great takeaways including;
- Remove currency signs from the menu in order to take emphasis away from the cost of the dishes.
- If your establishment is going for a more ‘exclusive’ feel – these tend to use round numbers for their dishes – no loose change here!
- Try to build your menu around popular dishes and consider grouping together certain price points to play a bit pricing psychology – whilst no-one may order the £70 steak, the £40 steak below it will look to be a great deal in comparison!
- From a presentation point of view, keep your menus clean and stain-free – no-one wants to hold a sticky menu that’s falling apart.
StaffingOkay, so you have your USP tied down and a killer concept and menu, but now you need a team of people to help bring it all to fruition. Finding the right employees can be a hassle – writing up and posting job ads? Going through the endless interviews? How many to hire for busy periods? How can you ensure quality?Restaurateurs know the importance of having a mix of full-time and flexible temp staff team. It is to ensure the team can cope with the needs of peak/quiet periods while being knowledgeable about the menu and keen to provide the best dining experience to customers. During times when the volume of customers increase, such as Summer or Christmas, having a reliable means to hire temp staff who are ready and qualified to work can be a useful way of alleviating pressure on the full-time workers. It will lift the team morale and in return they will provide better service to customers. Putting a strong emphasis on staffing will translate into a more positive customer experience.It should, however, be noted that a strong team can only be as good as the person leading them. Team leaders and members of the management team should have good organisational skills, be able to inspire and also educate. Providing goals, incentives and clear instructions will help with the onboarding process before each shift to new and returning staff alike.Utilising technology & Reputation managementFinally, everything has come together, the menu is working, staff are positive and customers are visiting and leaving with a smile – now it is the time to make use of social media to improve your business! Restaurants can live or die by their ability to utilise social media platforms and making use of this will really help to push your establishment out there. Some of the best restaurants using platforms such as Twitter and Instagram to showcase their dishes, new menu additions, to communicate directly with customers and much more. Investing time on promoting your restaurants on social media will help elevate your business to the next level.If you’re not savvy or too busy to deal with the always-on social media world, consider to outsource social media marketing. Don’t forget the basic reputation management. Responding to reviews on yelp!, Trip Advisor, Google Reviews and more, be they good or bad, will earn you kudos for being an establishment open enough to respond to their customers.