The fact that 60% of restaurant businesses fail within the first year should scare you. It should compel you to do whatever it takes to launch and grow your restaurant so that you beat that statistic.
But the fact is: you and every other restaurant owner are struggling against the possibility of failure, and as a result, you’re competing against one another for a share of the local restaurant market.
How can you beat out the competition and build loyal customers?
1. Start by Knowing the Competition
Before you even open your doors, you need to know who the other players are in town. That means paying attention to all restaurants within a few miles of where you want to open yours as well as any who cater to your particular niche.
Visit these restaurants. Review their websites and menus. Take note of what they charge for dishes. You’re looking for gaps or weaknesses that you can fill to find your own foothold in this space.
2. Hire a Professional Website Designer
You can’t get away with a DIY website for your business: 90% of diners research a restaurant before going there, so your website needs to be professional, polished, and helpful to potential customers.
Include your menu, links to social media, and an events calendar so that visitors get the information they’re looking for.
3. Plan Aggressive Marketing
Consider hiring a marketer, because it’s a full-time job and you probably won’t be able to dedicate enough time to the role yourself with so many other responsibilities. You need to constantly experiment with social media marketing and advertising, email, content marketing, coupons and promotions, and local marketing efforts.
Some things will work better than others. Pay attention to how campaigns go, and tweak future campaigns slightly for better results.
4. Talk to Your Customers
The best way to understand your customers is to talk to them. What dishes do they like? Do they have any suggestions? What can you do better?
A personal relationship is often what makes for loyal customers. Train your staff to recognize familiar faces and greet them by name. Encourage them to memorize a regular patron’s same-as-always coffee order. Send a free dessert out to the couple that comes every Friday.
5. Streamline Operations with the Right Software
From accounting to inventory management software, what you use behind the scenes to make sure that you never run out of ingredients and that your accounts are properly managed can impact business in the front-of-house.
If you manage inventory manually, you are at the mercy of human error. Imagine the dilemma you’ll have if you run out of your popular ribeyes on a Friday night! On the other hand, using the right software can keep you alerted when your ribeyes run low so you can order them in time for Friday night rush.
6. Reward Loyal Customers
Another way to drive repeat business is to reward customers who come back. You could sign up for Five Stars or another loyalty program so that customers get coupons to come back or a freebie after so many purchases.
Your restaurant’s success will depend on how much effort you put into building a relationship with your customers. You’ll need loyal, dedicated diners that keep coming back and telling others about your restaurant if you want to beat the statistic.