Restaurants: Know Thyself

We have all heard the expression: “Jack of all trades, master of none” as it applies to individual people.  The same expression can be applied to your restaurant.  Your guests should not have to guess what you are trying to master or what your brand represents.  Restaurants need to decide, well in advance of product delivery, what they stand for, what their product is and what their message will be to the public. This becomes their brand’s value proposition.
Knowing what your value proposition is early on, and making that the base on which you build, is a key to presenting a unified message of who you are. It is essential not to dilute that value proposition trying to be everything to everyone: You would not offer barbeque, no matter how good, at a fine seafood restaurant; this is why well-known restaurateurs may own several restaurants, each representing a different concept or value proposition that they wanted to create.  A cohesive, singular message, as we talked about in Consistency is King, allows your guests to understand your restaurant.  If your brand message is confusing, your guests will be confused, might not return and move on to another restaurant.
Here are four brand values to help guide restaurants in finding out what their message and value proposition is:
Product Innovation – A restaurant that values being a leader in product innovation tends to be on the culinary cutting edge.  Your restaurant is continually seeking to push the envelope and the boundaries of food, beverage and service.  Whether it is exploring molecular gastronomy, sous vide cooking, rare hybrid ingredients or a new delivery system, you and your management team are never satisfied with the status quo.
This value proposition attracts the type of customers who want to take this wild ride with you. This type of customer looks forward to your ever-changing menus and new ingredients, and likes to learn about new foods.  They come to expect this constant flux, and are disappointed if this level of innovation and product exploration stops.
Operational Excellence – When you think of large, fast casual chains and franchises like Chipotle and McDonald’s, you envision a restaurant that is a well-oiled machine.  Being consistent at what you do, from product quality and service to cleanliness, is the core value of this type of establishment. In restaurants where operational excellence is the main value, change is deliberate, well thought out and measured.
Customers who value operational excellence expect a certain level of product and service every time, whether it is a taco at a taco stand or foie gras in a fining dining restaurant. These types of customers do not like surprises; in this type of restaurant, customers know what they’re going to get.
Customer Intimacy – Customer intimacy is often found in smaller neighborhood restaurants, “joints”, diners, or coffee shops, where the staff comes to know the customers well.  In valuing customer intimacy, the restaurant can cater to customer needs and desires in a way that makes them feel special. A server who remembers your usual order and is able to anticipate your dining needs, creates an intimacy that attracts a loyal following in customers who value this – not all customers do.
These customers anticipate food at fair prices, knowing that it may not be the best (it still needs to be good!). The draw to this type of restaurant is that it is full of familiar faces, and has accommodating service. These customers seek a comfortable experience where “everybody knows your name”.
The Sweet Spot – It is a rarefied place when all of the above branding values intersect, creating “The Sweet Spot”. These are restaurants that have harnessed their creativity, worked out the kinks in their operation and fostered an atmosphere that is inviting.  It is important that you as an owner/operator understand your own strengths and weaknesses in relation to being able to hit this mark, as poorly implementing a core value can negatively impact the one(s) you are able to do well. Many successful restaurants achieve only one or two of these brand values – this is what they become known for and what their guests love about them.
Product innovation, operational excellence, customer intimacy, and even “The Sweet Spot”, can be achieved at any level, from fine dining to fast food.
When you have determined your value proposition, it should become the central tenet of your restaurant and be the basis on which you build your company culture. When everything you do is focused on your value proposition, your branding message will be clearly communicated to your customers. If your guests have to work to understand what your value proposition is, they will choose to go to another restaurant that has already figured it out.
Don’t know where to begin?  Ask yourself, do you have the proper branding values in place to help you be as profitable as possible?  4Q Consulting can develop customized branding and marketing plans, and operational guidelines to meet your needs.  Email us today for a free business consultation at www.4qconsult.com
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