Running a successful restaurant isn’t easy, especially when you consider that restaurants are less likely to succeed than other businesses. By running your restaurant right, you can increase your establishment’s chances of success.
Connect With Your Customers on Social Media
Social media is quickly becoming the de facto method for communication. Successful restaurants build a strong presence on social media sites like Facebook and Twitter and use those mediums to interact with their customers. Use social media to respond to customer complaints and criticisms, share information about new menu items and promotions and publish exclusive content, like pictures and videos of special events.
Offer Promotions and Discounts
You can use the Internet, including your restaurant’s social media profiles, to give out coupons and discounts. Offering exclusive coupons, discounts and offers on your social media sites encourages customers to interact with your restaurant online. Customer loyalty programs reward your regulars for their business.
Know Your Competition
In order to stay ahead of your competitors, you need to be aware of what they’re doing. Eat at competing restaurants. Take note of what they’re doing right and try to bring those positives into your own establishment. Notice what your competitors are doing wrong, so you can avoid doing it yourself.
No matter how good your business skills, your restaurant will always have some flaws. You should always be looking for ways to correct them. Take time regularly to brainstorm new ways you can innovate and new services you can offer.
Cultivate a Vendor Relationship
Online restaurant supply vendors, like the popular worldwide company Nisbets.com, can help keep you stocked up with all the supplies you’ll need to keep your restaurant running smoothly, from paper napkins to commercial kitchen appliances. Cultivating a close working relationship with a single company makes it easier to stay stocked up. Over time, your vendor will understand your usage patterns and will be able to anticipate your orders.
Highlight Special Menu Items
Are you serving anything made with seasonal ingredients or difficult-to-find items? Are you serving a dish made with exceptionally high-quality ingredients? Make sure you point that out to your customers — highlight it on your menu or specials board. For each menu item, try to identify a special quality that makes it unique — perhaps it’s made with free range eggs or with bread baked daily in your own kitchen.
Source Your Ingredients
These days, customers want to know where their food is coming from. Make sure your menu descriptions identify the sources of your ingredients. Be as specific as possible – name the country, city or region where specific ingredients were grown or raised. Go ahead and identify your preparation methods.
Cater to Your Target Demographic
If you want to make your restaurant business a success, you need to identify a target demographic and cater to it. If you’re targeting working-class customers, your marketing, decor and prices will need to reflect that. If you’re targeting the young, hip crowd, change your prices, ads and ambiance accordingly. If you’re targeting the older demographic, you may want to take it easy on the technology.
Offer Great Customer Service
Bad customer service will get more complaints than any other aspect of your restaurant — customers will often forget about bad wine or poorly prepared food, but they’ll tell all their friends about the slow service or the rude waiter. Ensure your restaurant has excellent customer service. Hire experienced staff — make sure you check their references! Pay your staff well because servers who know they’ll be getting a decent wage no matter how well the customer tips actually work harder and stay in their positions longer than those who depend on tips alone.
Build a Website
If your restaurant doesn’t have a website, you’re living in the Dark Ages. No one uses the phone book anymore; if you’re not online, many of your customers won’t even know your restaurant exists. Build a website if you haven’t yet, and put a text-based copy of your menu on it. Don’t just throw up a .pdf! Search engines won’t index it and your customers, who are increasingly using mobile devices, may not be able to access it. Make sure your website is mobile-friendly. Look at it on your own mobile device to be sure.
Succeeding in the restaurant industry isn’t a cake walk, but it’s possible if you work hard at it. Keep abreast of the times and stay aware of what your customers want, and success will be yours.
About the Author: Contributing blogger Neil Dismore has owned a successful restaurant in San Francisco for more than 15 years..