As you look to grow your business , you undoubtedly look at other successful restaurants. You’ve probably seen all kinds of success stories — from theme restaurants to food trucks, and everything in between. At first glance, you may not see what these places have in common, but closer inspection yields at least one very important insight; all successful restaurants have found a niche, and have used it to set themselves apart from competitors.
It takes some work to figure out your niche and leverage its full potential, but the results make the effort worthwhile. Once you know who loves your restaurant and why, you can use that information to reach new levels of success. Here’s how to do it:
Learn who Already Loves Your Restaurant
The first step into leveraging your niche is finding out exactly what it is. Your loyal customers can provide you the perfect place to start. Chat with your regulars and ask them what they like about your food, service and location. Then, create a survey for your customers that asks questions regarding what they love about your restaurant. Offering a coupon or discount on their next visit in exchange for a completed survey will help ensure more participation and better results.
Provide a similar survey and incentive to your online and mobile ordering customers. They may surprise you with completely different answers! By surveying these different groups, you will get more information to help leverage your niche.
Look at Your Bestsellers
In addition to surveying customers, look at what they buy from you. Learning which items draw the most customers to your restaurant will help you get a grasp on what your customers love about your place.
Do Not Deviate
Change can be good, but you do not want to lose valuable customers by altering what they love about your place. If people love the quiet ambiance of your restaurant, adding loud music or televisions is likely not a good idea. If your friendly customer service has become your claim to fame, take extra care in hiring and training new waitstaff. You want to leverage the aspects of your restaurant that are working.
That does not mean that you can never make changes. You absolutely can, and should. However, you want to make sure that any changes you make to your menu, location, online ordering system or staff accentuate what people love about your restaurant. Stay true to what your customers like, and they will stick with you.
Lean Into Your Niche
Once you know what customers love about your restaurant, keep doing it. Lean into your niche. If your vegan options bring you the most customers, consider introducing more of those options on your menu. If your customers love your locally-sourced ingredients, consider starting to phase out your industrial vendors.
If online customers favor certain specials, consider making more specials in the same vein. If certain menu items do better than others, expand those options or create new specials. Do not forget, however, that your niche involves more than just your food. If people love your fast service, consider initiating a curbside pickup for carry-out option. Whatever people love about your restaurant, try to do more of it in a sincere, genuine way.
Do Not go too Far
While you should definitely try to leverage your niche to cater to what customers love about your place, remember that it is possible to go too far. Maybe customers love live music on Friday nights, but that doesn’t mean they want it every night of the week. As you make changes and try to maximize your impact, keep an eye on the number of customers you have and how much they spend. Continue surveying customers to find out how you can continue to improve.
Provide Sincere Service
If you want to reach for greater success within your niche, do it the right way — by providing sincere service. Give your customers what they love, make them feel welcome and serve quality food. There’s nothing wrong with the desire for more success and greater income, but do not let it ruin the value you provide to customers, whether they dine in, or order online.
These steps can prove challenging for many restaurateurs. It’s not always easy to figure out what sets you apart from the competition and use it to generate more business. Yet, once you put forth the effort to understand what people love about your restaurant and how you can use that to provide even better service, success and growth will surely follow.
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