A Checklist For Restaurateurs: How To Create A Business From The Customer's Perspective

A successful restaurant requires a solid brand proposition that delivers value directly to its customers.

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A successful restaurant requires a solid brand proposition that delivers value directly to its customers. This proposition becomes the foundation of your business culture, and it also communicates the benefits of visiting your restaurant to both current and potential customers. After all, a brand proposition is formed by analyzing your customer's main needs, i.e. what they are looking for in a restaurant, and then you can develop and engage business strategies to satisfy these needs.

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A restaurant is able to differentiate themselves based on the value they can offer customers. Once your proposition is defined, you can work on the positioning of the brand within the market. Positioning the brand correctly allows for the restaurant to engage and capitalize on a specific target market. Communicating directly to your target market will allow you to receive maximum results from marketing and business activations.

Defining a target market requires thorough market research. Put simply, a brand must outline what they are offering, and who can benefit from it. Market research allows you to identify gaps in the market, and therefore, find your market niche by collating information about the needs and preferences of customers. A competitor analysis is also important to understand who else is in the same space as you, and what their strengths and weaknesses are, as well as what they are currently offering to consumers.

Elements such as their size, market share, reputation and target audience are all part of an in-depth competitor analysis. The findings will highlight gaps in the market and market segments that are being neglected. As well as this, it will identify what is working well in certain markets, and what your brand can capitalize on. By understanding your competitors, you are able to develop and enrich your own business strategy.

A restaurateur also needs to fully understand the demographics of their location. It is important to create a detailed and realistic SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats) analysis based solely on the neighborhood the restaurant is located in. By understanding local demographics, you can position your brand in order to attract relevant customers and encourage repeat business.

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At the end of the day, the aim of any restaurateur is to identify and capitalize on a demand vacuum within their specific market. Essentially, by creating a restaurant that fulfils or exceeds consumer expectations, the demand for your brand will create a vacuum at the end of the supply chain. The vacuum is solely created by consumer demand, and it helps keep your brand both relevant and successful. It can be defined through understanding your potential customers, and it can be enhanced through appropriate marketing and advertising campaigns.

Once the market and competitors have been thoroughly analyzed, it is important to align all other aspects of the business. Firstly, ensure branding is consistent, so that it can be easily recognized by both customers and potential customers. Brand recognition creates familiarity and builds brand awareness, which can give you a competitive advantage. Branding, service style, pricing, music, offerings, hours, design style and uniforms are all examples of business elements that need to be consistently aligned.

Misaligned branding components create confusion, and they can lead to a lack of trust amongst consumers when it comes to your restaurant. Similarly, all activations and events must also be on-brand and relevant. Brand activations are an essential component of any business strategy, as they help shape perception and increase exposure. By choosing relevant activations, a brand is able to connect directly with their target market. Aligning each aspect of the business leads to maximum impact for general communication and activations, as well as for future growth.

A common mistake restaurant owners make is to focus on minority views that can potentially divert their positioning plan. Whilst inclusion is important when focusing on mass-market strategies, a restaurant will always cater to a specific market segment. The restaurant management should work on ensuring the customers in this segment are identified and catered to. By trying to work on mass market strategies and focusing on minority views, you will most likely exclude your relevant and loyal customers. Once you have defined your business plan including your target market, stick to it! Consistently ensure your branding and activations focus on your targeted consumers in order to create brand loyalty.

It's also important to invest in research in order to understand what your customers are looking for in your restaurant. Identifying gaps in the market and the needs of your target audience will be vital when creating a successful business plan. By properly analyzing and understanding the needs of customers, you care able to create brand loyalty. At my enterprise, Gates Hospitality, all of our brands have been built and developed with the end user in mind at every touch point. Whether it's the appearance, the service, the menu, or the food, it is essential to invest in defining your brand, and consistently communicating with your target customers. Above all else, restaurants must remember to align what they promise the customer, to what they deliver to them.

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