It seems like every other flyer you get in the mail and email in your inbox is announcing some sort of deal at a chain restaurant in the area.
Almost every main drag in every city in America features multiple big restaurants – some fast food, some quick service and some casual dining.
Perhaps you just opened a restaurant, and you’re wondering how you can compete with these cheaper restaurant concepts. Or, you’ve been in business for a while, and you don’t know how you can compete with the barrage of coupons and meal deals these chains are offering.
With some creativity, you can show diners that you offer a better value. You can show them you provide a clean restaurant with great quality food and a nice atmosphere that is worth the money.
According to the National Restaurant Association, seven out of ten restaurants are still one-unit eateries. This means only three out of ten are a chain of some sort. So, you can take on the cheaper, chain restaurant.
Let’s talk about how your restaurant can compete with cheap. You can compete and win in your market with a few easy tips.
The generation of today wants good, quality food. They often delight in locally-sourced, responsible food. If you offer this, make sure to promote it. If you don’t offer any locally-sourced items, take advantage of your local farmers market. Start small and try a few ingredients.
Your better food doesn’t necessarily have to be local, organic or gluten-free to compete with the cheap restaurants, but it is important that your food is better.
If you serve French fries, separate yourself from the pack by offering hand-cut fries. Consider different types of potatoes – try a purple or a red version. If you serve burgers, use nice cheddar instead of American.
Terrifically tantalizing food almost always guarantees you can compete with cheap. (tweet this)
The big chains are collecting email addresses, and if you aren’t, you most definitely should be. The easiest way to do this is to give people a reason to subscribe. Here are a few ideas or incentives for diners to subscribe to your email list:
Once you’ve got your email list, stay in contact. Build your relationship and make it personal. Offer incentives as well as “secret” recipes and cooking tips.
The more times diners see your brand info, the more likely they are to remember your restaurant when they’re driving down the road of cheap restaurants and realize they are looking for something better.
Include unique menu items for children. We aren’t talking the typical kids’ menu of chicken fingers, burgers and macaroni. Shake it up a little bit and be creative.
Grill the chicken on sticks and call them chicken lollipops. Put some broccoli in the macaroni. Let kids make their own pizza – bring them the dough, a small bowl of sauce and some cheese.
Parents will remember you went the extra mile to appeal to their children. Let the cheap guys offer the “regular” kids fare while you offer a creative, well thought-out spin.
You can compete with cheap by offering a loyalty and rewards program. You can easily build relationships with your customers, which is key to today’s marketing with personalized messages.
Loyalty and rewards programs are cost-effective solutions for offering diners a special without having to offer discounts all the time. It’s a win-win situation – they eat in your restaurant more often, and you give them a small reward for doing so.
You’ll be able to track diners through the program and remind them if they haven’t dined in a while.
For this tip, we recommend branding a few of your recipes. If you don’t have a blog, now is the time to start one. Use your blog to offer printed recipes as well as video recipes similar to a cooking show, but much shorter.
This is the ideal chance for you to personalize your restaurant and make customers feel like they are part of a special group or “family.” You are sharing something very special with them in the form of a recipe. Going one step further with the video introduces customers to your chef.
You can also be part of a local cookbook. Or, network with your town newspaper’s food editor. Ask if you can be a guest blogger a few times a month. This relationship building separates your restaurant from the cheap ones and helps you stand out in the crowd.
For this tip, we suggest stealing an idea from the big chains who are almost all utilizing the mobile landscape. Mobile dominates today’s world, with more than 50% of the population using mobile phones. By capitalizing on mobile, you’re taking one more step towards competing with cheap.
Since so many people are using mobile phones, it’s imperative that your website is easily digestible no matter the screen size. What are people looking for on their mobile phones when it comes to restaurants?
Make sure you offer these items to your diners in a mobile-friendly format. They’ll appreciate the increased usability and put you before the cheaper restaurants.
Cheap restaurants are usually looking for the quick turn-around. The more diners in, the more money they make. Yet, this isn’t always the case.
Encourage your diners to linger. Keep your focus on what really matters, and that’s creating great customer relationships resulting in regular, repeat diners who sing your restaurant’s praises to all of their friends, family and co-workers.
Word of mouth is a powerful restaurant marketing tool. (tweet this)
Create a cozy atmosphere that feels like home for diners. Create a unique feeling that can’t be replicated by a cheap restaurant. Today’s diners often want a unique “experience” when they dine out. Give it to them, and you’ll compete with cheap.
You can compete with cheap restaurants by offer the best customer service possible. According to a restaurantowner.com, customers value great service. They want to be greeted personally. They want smiling servers who appear to like their job. They want attentive service as well as a pleasant relationship.
Provide these things as well as good food and a clean restaurant, and you’re well on your way to competing with cheap.
Give yourself some time to implement these tips. Make a plan and start with one tip, gradually moving on to another and another. Keep track of what works and what doesn’t.
You can compete with cheap with creativity, superb food, relationship building, great service and a few well-planned incentives.
The first step to attracting more customers to your restaurant is to have a great restaurant website. Restaurant Engine provides a great website for your restaurant. Plus, it’s easy for you to use and update. Take the Restaurant Engine Tour today.