In my last post, I wrote about the local Village Inn restaurant closing after its parent, VICORP, went into chapter 11. Here are my recommendations for the next restaurant that opens in that location.
1. Serve food that makes you stand out from the competition by focusing on quality and by creating several signature dishes. Market the heck out of those dishes.
2. Offer healthy dishes for those to whom that appeals. There’s more and more of us each day.
3. As the economy declines, people are less inclined to eat out. Lower your prices by offering smaller portion sizes. Luby’s Cafeterias have done that for years with their LuAnn plates. Smaller portion sizes are also attractive to those of us who are trying to make healthy choices.
4. Hire people who are outgoing and friendly and encourage them to interact with their customers as opposed to hiding in the back. Friendly wait staff brings customers back. Using this tactic can help you stand out from your competition without spending a lot of money.
5. Get your name out in the community by encouraging your staff to participate in charitable events or by conducting those events in your restaurant as Applebees is doing. Sponsor a children’s soccer or baseball team and put your restaurant name on the back of their jerseys. Get your employees and their families to put together a Relay For Life Team benefiting the American Cancer Society. Craig O’s, a local Italian restaurant raises funds for nearby schools. Those schools send out e-mails on a regular basis encouraging parents to take their families there.
6. Take your marketing seriously. If you’ve got a marquee, use it to capture people’s attention by putting up humorous messages, rather than just the takeout number for your restaurant. Lend the marquee to charitable groups and allow them to publicize their events. Yes, marketing is more than just marquees. Find the communities (real and online) where your customers live and figure out ways to get your message to stand out.
7. Keep your business clean. Tables should be bussed quickly, the restaurant temperature should be comfortable, and the restrooms—do I really need to mention the restrooms?
When my family goes to a restaurant we like to be part of a bustling crowd where the food is great and everyone is having a good time. When we have that good time we spread the word to our friends, neighbors, and co-workers.