The How-To: Building An Eatery Brand In The Middle East With these five tips, restaurant owners can start up a successful business and create a loyal customer base.

By Elmar Pichorner

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The first thing any aspiring restaurateur should do before anything else is to sit and compose the narrative or "story' on the brand concept. A creatively written brand story will prove a powerful tool throughout the development journey, helping people and consumers to understand the values that the brand represents and establish a connection that is unique, emotional, meaningful, memorable and sharable. Above all, the primary factor with developing the story is authenticity, therefore ensuring a consistent and authentic approach keeps the original brand story alive through the emotional connections that are created with consumers.

Touch the senses There is more to any dining experience beyond the food. Experiential design plays an integral role in any successful restaurant brand in the Midde East, from the moment consumers walk through the door till the time they leave. A great hospitality concept is dependent on its ability to touch all human senses –vision, touch, sound, smell and taste– creating a unique experience that generates a sensation of profound satisfaction resulting in higher average spends, increased customer loyalty and ultimately an exceptionally sustainable business.

Related: How Dubai-Based Basmaty Is Disrupting The Culinary World

Hire the right team to run your brand There is very little that can be done if you have the right concept but you don't have the right team on hand to showcase that concept to its strength. Your team are your biggest asset and if you don't hire and develop the right people, success is limited. With Dubai being such a transient city, retaining good restaurant staff is challenging, especially due to so many opportunities available. Ensuring training, growth and development of fresh international talent will establish loyalty, enhance skills and build a consistent standard of professionalism and service that will be recognized by your consumers.

Cater to the up and coming millennials Restaurateurs need to take a holistic approach to the concepts they create, specifically paying attention to the minuscular details that comprise a social dining journey, from the impact of the arrival to the beauty of the food on the plate. With the Millennials coming into their own, there is a perfect storm on the horizon for many industries and the region's restaurant industry may well be in the eye of this storm. The younger consumer is one of the most disruptive on record. Their expectation of credible, authentic and somewhat real brands is much higher than the expectations of any of their predecessors to date. It is important to ensure their demands are met with non-packaged, less-processed food with providence and DNA, and that are above all authentic, sustainable, and real.

Get it right the first time Research is the basis for success. Commit to creating exceptional value by "getting it right the first time' through effective integration of commercial goals with the latest industry trends and layers of innovation based on extensive regional and global research. There should be no expensive post-handover re-conceptualizations, renovations or redesigns. A thorough market survey and SWOT analysis of the existing and future competition within the Middle East, as well as opportunities, market niches and benchmark service standards, can ultimately lead to a product vision that will attract the desired target market and create a loyal customer base.

Related: Chef And Entrepreneur Roberto Segura On Turning Passion Into A Profitable Hospitality Business

Elmar Pichorner

Partner at Atelier EPJ - Hospitality Consultants

Elmar Pichorner, Partner at Atelier EPJ - Hospitality Consultants, holds a Bachelor of Arts in hospitality management issued by renowned Bad Hofgastein Hospitality Management School in Austria. After numerous years of operational experience in China, Madeira, Indonesia, Mauritius and Dubai, his career took him to join the Kerzner International Development team in 2001, which he left in 2007 to launch Zuma Dubai. His recent conceptual development and design facilitation projects include La Petite Maison Restaurant, Dubai (kitchen planning and pre-opening assistance), Phoenix88 Chinese Restaurant, KSA (concept and design development), Alibey Resort, Maldives (concept and design development), and Wafi Hotel, Dubai (concept and interior design development). 

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