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You can be successful as a restaurateur if your restaurant provides quality food and service and fills a gap in your local market. However, many restaurants fail because they don't take time to identify weaknesses and fix them before they ultimately have to shut down. Understanding common weaknesses -- and learning to identify weaknesses in your own business -- can help your restaurant thrive.
Poor Customer Service
Diners go to a restaurant to enjoy quality service just as much as quality food. They don't want to have to chase down a server for a drink refill or wait for an hour for a plate of cold food. Restaurants that consistently deliver poor service alienate their customer base. Simply put, customers unhappy with the restaurant's service will not return. Restaurants that can attract repeat customers can succeed, while those with many one-time diners will fail to establish a solid customer base.
The National Restaurant Association's 2011 Pocket Factbook reports that 62 percent of diners choose their favorite restaurant based on food with "flavor and taste sensations" they can't replicate in their home kitchen. Thus, restaurants that fail to provide satisfying and flavorful food can fail in the competitive restaurant industry. A weak restaurant offers bland dishes that don't spark diners' taste buds. Menu offerings might be slim, limiting diners' options, or so broad that the restaurant fails to specialize in -- and perfect -- any type of food.
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The $604 billion restaurant industry, as reported by the National Restaurant Association, is a competitive one that requires restaurants to find their niche in the broad market. Not having a niche -- or not choosing the right one -- can cause a restaurant to fail. For example, a restaurant in a suburban area full of young families that offers pricey food and no kids menu isn't appealing to its target market.
Lack of Ambiance
Diners go out to eat for more than just the food. The National Restaurant Association's 2011 Pocket Factbook reports that 86 percent of diners go out to restaurants for a "nice break from the monotony of daily life." Restaurants that fail to provide an ambiance that makes dining out a nice break can fail. Music so loud that you can't hear fellow diners and unattractive or downright dirty decor can detract from the ambiance and signify a major restaurant weakness.
Barbie Carpenter worked as a technical writer and editor in the defense industry for six years. She also served as a newspaper feature page editor and nationally syndicated columnist for the Hearst Corp. Carpenter holds a Bachelor of Science in journalism from the University of Florida and a graduate certificate in professional writing from the University of Central Florida.