The restaurant industry is fiercely competitive and operates on notoriously tight margins. Success or failure can hinge on your ability to develop competitive advantages and offer your customers something they cannot get from your competitors. Competitive advantages in the restaurant industry are sometimes a matter of offering real value, such as superior food or sustainably sourced ingredients. Alternately, a competitive advantage can stem from your ability to stand out in customers' minds as a result of superior marketing strategies.


Training your staff effectively will provide your restaurant with a competitive strength, as knowledgeable and efficient employees provide customers with exceptional service that makes them want to return. In addition to developing basic competencies that create a seamless customer dining experience, an engaged staff also provides a more enjoyable restaurant meal simply by being more pleasant than disgruntled employees. This reflects well on your restaurant, indicating that you treat your employees with basic decency, and that your restaurant is a good place to work.


Restaurants are, first and foremost, venues for serving food. Restaurants that provide high-quality food earn a competitive advantage because customers want to return and eat their food again. Restaurateurs with high ideals about serving fine food often find themselves making compromises when faced with the daily challenges of keeping ingredients fresh and keeping costs down. Maintaining high-quality standards for restaurant food may be costly in the short term, but it is cost-effective in the long term because it helps your restaurant stand out from the competition.


Creating a strong brand for your restaurant provides you with a competitive advantage. Customers who are familiar with your brand are likely to choose you over competitors, assuming they have positive associations with the food and experience you provide. Creating a strong brand involves understanding your target market, knowing your competitive strengths, and developing a sense of the best way to differentiate yourself from your competition. Building your brand may simply be a matter of tinkering with your menu or your presentation to emphasize what you do particularly well.


Sustainable business practices can give a restaurant a competitive edge, especially among environmentally conscious diners. Restaurants provide ongoing opportunities for sourcing and preparing food sustainably, from choosing local and organic ingredients, to avoiding genetically modified foods, to composting food waste and leftovers, to using compostable and recyclable packaging. Let consumers know about your sustainable practices by posting signs and including notes on your menu. Naming local suppliers on your menu is a graceful way to communicate about sustainable sourcing, benefitting both your restaurant and your local vendors.