Against the competition of chains and smaller multiples, ensuring your independent offering survives and thrives in the dining sector requires careful strategic planning.
What started as a passion has become a business, and staying true to your vision while keeping an eye on the bottom line can be difficult.
Here are ten ways to make your independent restaurant business a success:
Make sure your branding is on point
This is more than just a logo. Everything from your interior design, menu, social media and even the music you play represents you. Think about what you want a potential customer to think when they see your name and logo for the first time and let that become the cornerstone of your brand.
Make social media work harder
It’s not enough to just be on social media. Plan a strategy for promoting your offering through Facebook, Twitter and Instagram and consider allocating a budget to promote your posts. A small monthly budget of less than £100 will go further than you think.
Know your audience
Diversity is good, but by spreading your offering too thinly, you risk reducing your impact in the marketplace. Focus on doing one or two things great instead and know who you are aiming your product at.
…and listen to them
The easiest way to listen to customers is to monitor what sells and doesn’t, but you can also collect data with short surveys when they pay their bill. Your customers should not run your business, but they should help shape its future.
Work on your menu
Subtle revisions to the less popular dishes on your menu and strategic additions that complement your staples can make a huge difference. While it’s important that your regular customers can always find their favourites, you should always strive to offer something new.
Play to your strengths
As an independent, it may feel like you’re just trying to keep up, but there are lots you can do that the bigger restaurants can’t. Respond quickly to trends by adding items to your menu, keep your interior fresh and offer deals and discounts whenever it suits you.
Another way to gain an edge on your bigger rivals is to open when they don’t. Your customers will appreciate consistent hours, but offering opportunities for them to dine when others don’t can help build your community.
Hire the right people
It’s absolutely crucial that the right people are representing you in the restaurant trade. Understand what those you hire want to get from the job and help them craft their role. This will help your staff feel more invested and drive up standards.
Make sure you’re covered
Holding something back for if things go wrong is essential. Margins are tight and every penny has to work hard, but a specialised yet cheap small business insurance policy provides peace of mind, allowing the focus to remain on growing the business.
Make it easy for people to learn about you
It’s amazing how many restaurants struggle to provide basic information online. Make sure a copy of your menu is available and accessible on your website and social media channels, and check portals like Google to ensure your opening hours and location are up to date.
By following these ten simple tips, you can help your restaurant stand out among the competition.