Any restaurateur knows how cutthroat competition in the restaurant industry is. You can’t simply choose a great location, serve delicious entrees, and expect success in an instant. Even when your restaurant concept is unique and your execution flawless, it takes something extra in order to win over the diners in your area.
This seemingly intangible quality is what we like to refer to as your restaurant’s competitive advantage. Quite simply, it is the answer to this question: why do customers choose your restaurant over competitors nearby? Knowing and growing your restaurant’s unique attributes will boost the value proposition of your restaurant in the eyes of your potential customers.
Ensure Your Sustainability
First, let’s briefly outline what a competitive advantage should not be. Do not rely on the success of one particular dish – this can spell disaster for your brand. Cuisines, ingredients, and diets go out of fashion in an instant. Choosing one meal to serve as your “it” factor means failure for many reasons. You could get priced out, or lose the interest of your customers.
Your competitive advantage should not be so narrow, and should be able to adapt and grow. Do not rely on a competitive advantage of being the most affordable option in your area – markets change frequently, and if your restaurant will go under via direct financial competition you deserve to fail. Look at your restaurant’s operations to discover the secret ingredient to your success.
Cultivate a Culture
Many restaurants rely on their distinct restaurant culture as their competitive advantage. The culture of a restaurant, or its purpose and how it treats its customers, can weather many changes in menu, price, and location. To grow a restaurant culture that will connect with customers, you must enter the business with a crystal clear set of values for your restaurant and for your staff.
Appealing to the emotional side of hospitality will win over customers in droves if accompanied with great food and ambience. If a connection with your staff is part of the package you can gain loyalty even when up against the big dogs. The winning attitude of Freebirds World Burrito keeps them in competition with local Chipotle chains, for example.
Pick the Right People
Hiring and retaining the best team possible will determine the sustainability of your competitive advantage. In order to attract the best talent and create a team as opposed to a staff, you must offer something to your hires beyond the paycheck. This goes hand-in-hand with culture – if your workplace is connected with a common purpose, your employees will have a reason to go the extra mile at work.
If your employees are committed to fulfilling the mission of the restaurant (and if your competitive advantage is incorporated into that mission), your distinct “it” factor won’t be muddled or lost as you hire new workers. Hire speedily and your restaurant will suffer.
Invest in Innovative Systems
Your restaurant should be grounded by efficient policies, innovative systems, and superior technology that can cut costs and streamline operations. By delivering a consistently stellar dining experience through efficiency and predictability you offer customers reliability, which in the foodservice industry is hard to come by.
By incorporating Buzztime self-service dining tablets, for example, customers can pay at their table and leave as early as they like. In a moment they can order another round of appetizers or drinks, and they can split the bill however they prefer. These intuitive systems make transactions smoother and improve customer satisfaction. A well-oiled system is a competitive advantage that endures and attracts new business.