What are you really selling?
What exactly is your unique selling point (USP), what makes you different from all the other restaurants? Anyone who has gone through this process will perhaps understand that it is not as simple as it looks.
Need to gather the staff to sit down have a coffee and discuss what makes you different from other restaurants. Look at the atmosphere, the staff, the building, etc.
Need to take a pen and paper and look at all the aspects of the restaurant. Look at each area and make a decision if it is the same or similar to other restaurants or if it was truly was unique to our place.
Write down food style —-Same! Pricing structure…..Same! Menu items …..Same! Nice safe things that everybody likes and can buy everywhere! Staff…nice and friendly, but that wasn’t unique either. The list goes on. After many be looking at thirty areas you may conclude that there was nothing separating what you did from any other restaurant that was strong enough to be used to make you stand out from the crowd.
To give you a clear idea of what I mean lets quickly look at a business that has more clearly defined selling points. For example when you think about cars, which car comes to mind when you associate safety with it. In most cases, Volvo is recognised as the safest car in the market. Do you honestly believe that it is the safest car? Who knows if it is or not. What Volvo has done is taken the safety issue and made it their USP. You will most likely find that it is no safer than a Ford or Holden.
What you need to do is to take each area identified as being similar to other restaurants and look at what you can do to stand out. Some will require very little thought. The pricing structure was okay. Customer expectation rises in direct proportion to your pricing and in many areas pricing is determined by the local demographics. So maybe you will leave the pricing alone.
Maybe you need to change the menu, the presentation, the wine list and so on. At the same time, you need to come up with a USP that was strong enough to use for marketing purposes.
The one thing that may become apparent whilst working through this is that you are not marketing food. In much the same way as Volvo markets safety to sell cars and McDonalds markets to kids to sell to adults, you have to market experience or a reason other than the food and beverages to sell food and beverage. I know it is confusing, but if you market food and beverages then the customer puts you in the same category as other restaurants that market food and beverage (and it is a big category). If you market a supervised children’s play area (it needs to be good) then people will come when they want to get relief from the kids. This is a smaller category than just food and beverages. The ideal category is a unique one that contains only your restaurant and that is what your ideal goal should be.
From going through this process you can have the best food in the world and not be busy. The general public would not believe you even if it were true. They may believe you if you pitched that your restaurant had the ‘leasing’ sales of barramundi in Australia. They may even choose to eat with you believing that you had the freshest barramundi. But if you told them that you sold the best a barramundi it is unlikely that you would be believed.
Do people buy bottled water because they want water? I think they buy it because they want ’pure’ water. Does it make sense? In a strange kind of the way it does.
Everybody eats. Every day they make a decision where they would like to eat (home, takeaway, restaurant, pizza delivery, etc). When they ask the question “where shall we eat tonight?” You should ask the question, “why should customers dine in my restaurant?” It’s a tough question.
What are you really selling?
Businesses can survive for some time with poor record-keeping, insufficient finance or a lack of management skills, but they cannot survive without a market.
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