To deal with some of the main issues that restaurants like yours are likely to face this year, it’s important to understand them and what they are. So we’ve compiled five common problems that aren’t going to go away any time soon.
Here’s how you can overcome them and help your restaurant business succeed in 2020.
- Failure to establish a consistent identity
- Not having a USP
- The menu
- The internet and social media
- Related articles
#1 Failure to establish a consistent identity
Branding is important for a reason – it’s the cornerstone of a businesses’ reputation. Branding should convey what your business is and what’s special about it. Many first-time restaurateurs make the mistake of developing an identity early on, and they then fail to remain committed and focused on a specific style of service or cuisine.
Successful restaurant owners are able to develop a restaurant theme, cultivate a good reputation, and attract customers accordingly. You’re not looking to bring the world and his wife through your doors, so don’t think too big.
Establish a target market, then create the menu and atmosphere that will attract them. In some cases you may even be able to ask yourself “what experience am I selling?” and then act accordingly to make that experience for your clientele. Branding doesn’t need to cost an arm and a leg, but it does take passion, time, and thought. But remember, you neglect your brand at your peril!
Once you have that brand/reputation, it’s essential that you maintain it – it’s your identity. People revisit restaurants for consistency, so keep them happy and ensure that they always receive the experience that they expect. Consistency is the key to establishing regular clientele, and regular clients are the most important customers to have. Maintaining regular clientele is a critical factor in establishing a solid reputation that will attract newcomers.
#2 Not having a USP
So why should people come to your restaurant, and what’s there to bring them back? A unique selling point gives your clientele something to remember you by, so it needs to be an original idea, and something that can be even better than great food or service (though your food should not be neglected, of course. Altogether, your food, your service, your brand, and your unique selling point can all work together to give your customers a positive emotional bond with your restaurant.
So how do you come up with a USP? In the book Reality in Advertising, advertising executive Rosser Reeves lays down three rules that unique selling propositions should follow if they wish to be more than just creative branding:
- Each advertisement must make a proposition to the consumer—not just words, product puffery, or show-window advertising. Each advertisement must say to each reader: “Buy this product, for this specific benefit.”
- The proposition must be one the competition cannot or does not offer. It must be unique—either in the brand or in a claim the rest of that particular advertising area does not make.
- The proposition must be strong enough to move the masses, i.e., attract new customers.
Make sure that you’re standing out for the right reasons, and that your brand’s positioning in your marketplace is intended to move what you sell, not just to stand out. For a local restaurant, it doesn’t need to be too extravagant, but it needs to be something that you can live up to. You can always fool people once, but they won’t come back again…
#3 The menu
A good menu is a balancing act. One of the most common mistakes that a restaurant owner can make is having an over-reaching menu. Consider having a fairly small menu, as larger menus tend to lack focus and will increase both the ticket time and the time that the customer takes to order. They also require more ingredients and increased pressure on the chefs with numerous different dishes cooking at the same time, increasing the chances that something could go wrong.
A smaller menu allows for easier reading, and gives the chefs a smaller number of dishes to keep a track of, plus their expertise of these dishes will increase quicker to a point where they’ll always impress.
Here are some quick tips that every menu can use:
- Don’t use pound signs on the prices
- Provide descriptions of the dishes and their key ingredients
- Keep the menus clean and dispose of those that become worn or dirty
- Group popular and profitable items together
- Have the menu available on the website, allowing the customers to come prepared knowing what to expect
#4 The internet and social media
Diners are increasingly internet savvy, browsing the web not only to find where to eat next but also to plan their meal choices when they get there (this is why it’s so important for your menu to be available online). We’ve already written about what you should do to make sure your website includes everything your customers may be looking out for.
Social media also plays a huge role. A study by Barclaycard found that 21% of diners check a restaurant’s social media profile or website to see what the food actually looks like before they visit. And a huge 41% of Brits admit that they post photos of their meals on social media when they eat out.
To prevent this from causing you problems further down the line, make sure your restaurant has a presence on social media. Not only is it a great way to bring new customers in, it can also help you to keep your existing customers coming back. And pay special attention to the presentation of the dishes, so when a photo of them inevitably finds its way to Instagram, it doesn’t put people off from paying you a visit!
Finally, we come to an area where many restaurants run into big problems. This looming problem is capital, and more specifically, a lack of it. Unfortunately, the restaurant sector is considered high risk to many traditional lenders and they will most likely want to see a solid business plan and years of financial history beforehand.
Some restaurant business loans from traditional lenders will require that a restaurant be successful before they are even willing to provide the restaurant financing. However, unexpected costs will always crop up, so you must plan for it. You must expect that actual costs will be significantly higher than initially budgeted and allocated costs. Always have a cushion, so that unexpected costs will not bankrupt the restaurant.
Since traditional business loans are not easy to come by, having a reliable source for restaurant financing is crucial to surviving in the market. Boost Capital offers small business loans for restaurants, a unique alternative to traditional loans.
A restaurant loan from Boost Capital may be the solution for you. With a few easy steps, you could receive financing for your restaurant in as little as two business days. Here’s a case study about how we were able to help the Japanese restaurant Sen Nin in Islington.