There are a few strategies you can use to super-charge your restaurant start-up success. You can use these strategies to elevate your success regardless of where you are, what kind of food you serve, or the size of your budget.

  1. Choose the right team. Find people with whom you see eye to eye. Partner with people who have a high level of expertise and who are aligned on what’s important.
  2. Have a solid game plan. Success happens because you plan for it it. Lay out a solid business plan built to achieve the best case, but prepared for the worst case. Opening a restaurant is risky, so plan everything in advance, including your back-up plan. Know exactly what it would take to break even if it takes a long time to build your customer base.
  3. Do something nobody else is doing. Creating something truly unique can be the difference between success and failure in restaurants. If you want to draw customers in the door, you need to give them a good, unique reason.
  4. Get clear on what makes YOU special. Creating differentiation is critical, but how do you create something authentically different? When you get clear on what makes you special, stick to it. Own it.
  5. Know what you are, and what you’re not. Get clear on what you are, and don’t succumb to the temptation to be everything for everyone.
  6. Know your market, know your customers. Do your homework. How are the people in your area being underserved by the current options? What are they looking for in a restaurant like yours?
  7. Know your competition. There are always other options where customers can choose to spend their money. Know your competitors and where they’re coming up short. Then set the bar way higher.
  8. Service & satisfaction. Of course customer service is important, but it’s rare these days that a restaurant takes the time and effort to do something truly out of the ordinary. Find ways to create unexpected surprises for your customers. These don’t have to be expensive, and surprises don’t have to be grandiose.
  9. Create an experience. Understand the emotions of your customers. Take them somewhere extraordinary. They’re not going to remember the food nearly as much as how you made them feel.
  10. Over deliver. Give them something they don’t expect. This accomplishes lots of things: increases their value perception, surprises them, creates shareable stories, differentiates from competition, allows them to sample parts of the menu they may not have tried, and ultimately gets customers back again.
  11. Word of mouth marketing. Getting people pass along praise about you restaurant takes time, and it’s critical. It comes from an unexpected experience that has sharable memories. Give guests an authentic and different experience, and they’ll pass along genuine praise to others.
  12. Advertising. Be selective. Know where your customers are looking, and what they’re looking for. Your Internet presence is critical.
  13. Know your hurdles. Where are your risk factors? What are the barriers to your success? Know the biggest barriers to your success and stay focused on them.
  14. When something goes wrong, is your chance to shine. Pull out all the stops. If you’re really committed to this business for the long-term, show it. First, make it right, then over deliver on making it right, then get them back by making it irresistible not to. Take responsibility, and have the conversation.

Gerry O'Brion - Keynote Marketing & Branding Speaker

WRITTEN BY GERRY O’BRION

Gerry spent his career growing big brands such as Procter & Gamble, Coors Light, Quiznos, and Red Robin. Now, he translates strategies from billion dollar brands into techniques that any company can use, regardless of their budget.

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