Posted by Colin Ransom - August 2015
As I was checking my emails last week, I stumbled on a blog about how small restaurants can increase business. I don’t read all the newsletters and blogs that are sent to me, but this one caught my eye.
The article was well written with loads of good ideas about how to attract new business to a restaurant. But there was no mention of repeat business, which surely has to be a priority for any business, not just those in the hospitality industry.
I’m just back from a four day, long bank holiday weekend in London, and I was lucky enough to eat in some nice places. I visited a pub I know well that’s recently repositioned itself from a football pub, to more of an eatery, and not without all the usual teething problems. The challenge this owner is facing is positioning the pub so it’s right for the area and the desired target market. Here are some of the considerations we talked about:
It’s so important it is to establish who your customers or guests are going to be, particularly if you have undergone a rebranding. You can do this by investigating the local demographics and also visiting other businesses in the area. People are generally quite forthcoming with this information, but you have to ask. Also think about the premises; if it’s a little run-down and a refurbishment is not in your budget, this will influence who comes in.
Therefore it’s important to get your food and drink offering right. What does your target market want to eat? Again an invaluable way to find this out is to simply ask them. Set up a Twitter account or a Facebook page and ask people what they want. Speak to other businesses and remember less is more. It’s better to have half a dozen or so great dishes than an extensive menu that becomes an operational nightmare, particularly if you don’t have the right chef, which leads to my next point…..
A business will not be successful without the right team. Take the time to train your team properly, particularly on product knowledge and customer service. Training is all too often overlooked in the industry. But proper training really does pay dividends in the long-term, and the cost of not doing it can be disastrous.
It’s important to maintain a positive attitude, too, particularly as the owner or manager; remember attitude and determination are everything if you want to be successful.
Again, think about this carefully. What is your target market, and how much are they prepared to pay for a meal? At this point you might discover your planned menu is a little ambitious, but that’s okay. Better to realise this now than further down the line. And things will flow: your premises and location will determine your most likely customers, which will determine your pricing, which will determine what goes on your menu.
It simply isn’t enough to put a float in the till, open the doors, and hope for the best. How are you going to entice customers into your business, particularly if you’re in a position where you’re trying to shake off a previous bad reputation, which happens a lot with pubs? Social media is an excellent tool for restaurant marketing but again the cost of getting this wrong can be catastrophic. There are plenty of businesses doing this well (www.facebook.com/ericsrestaurant)( www.facebook.com/SukhothaiRestaurants)from which you can take inspiration. Remember the point is to generate interest, rather than forcing your marketing message on to your target market.
Setting up or rebranding a food business can be a daunting and challenging task, but with some careful planning and a team of good people, it’s an incredibly rewarding thing to do. And the demand for eateries will never go away. So businesses that get this right enjoy not only success but also longevity in the industry.