How to Gain Competitive Advantage in the Restaurant Business
We eat for pleasure as well as sustenance. A restaurant can gain a competitive advantage by either building an appreciative following that is passionate about a particular style or a quality of food, or by offering basic sustenance in a way that is especially convenient or affordable. Regardless of whether your restaurant offers fancy or staple fare, it is important to keep in mind that tastes in food are highly individual and customers connect emotionally with food and eating establishments.
Whether you own a fine dining restaurant or a fast food establishment, your restaurant will have a competitive advantage if customers understand who you are and what kind of food you provide. If you are opening a fast food restaurant, develop a thorough understanding of your specialty and the type of customer you want to attract. Target your marketing efforts to reach these core customers. For example, if you specialize in local, sustainable food, consider a cross marketing campaign with your neighborhood farmers' market.
Because eating is such a personal experience, excellent customer service is vital for a restaurant to gain a competitive advantage. Treat all customers graciously and warmly, and get to know regulars by name. Ask your customers for feedback and show that you care about their responses by implementing changes based on the information you receive. Take complaints seriously and work to satisfy displeased customers in the short term while taking steps to avoid similar complaints in the long term.
Location is often a vital element in a restaurant's success. Choosing the right location at the outset can give your restaurant a competitive advantage from the beginning. Make sure the neighborhood where you open your restaurant is appropriate for the type of clientele you intent to attract. If you're opening a high end restaurant, you'll improve your chances of success if you locate it in an upper income neighborhood. A restaurant should also have plenty of on or off street parking or be located in an area with ample foot traffic.
No matter how good your location and your marketing efforts, customers won't come to your restaurant if they don't enjoy your food. Your restaurant can gain a competitive advantage by paying close attention to quality and providing a consistent product that will make customers eager to return. Hire the right managers for your kitchen to ensure quality control of your ingredients, recipes and dishes. It is important to have hands-on managers who oversee all aspects of the kitchen, from the way raw food is stored to how chefs execute the dishes. Consistent high quality also attracts reviews and media attention, which provide invaluable exposure.