So you have a nice restaurant with good food and service, and yet the dining room is not always full. You spend quite a lot of money in marketing and wonder why it’s not working for you.
Well let me tell you, there are many other restaurants with good food, good service and a nice ambience, so your place might not be as special in the eyes of your customers as you want it to be.
Put yourself in the shoes of your customers. Why should they come to your restaurant rather than visit one of your competitors?
Well, the truth is that if you stand out from other local options, they probably won’t.
You need to think hard and long about your place and what it makes it special or different from any other restaurant. And believe me, it is different. No two restaurants are the same (except in the case of franchises, which - by definition - want to look and operate exactly the same).
So what makes your restaurant special or different?
You need to articulate the essence of your restaurant, the essence of your offering, so that people will know why they should come to your place instead of your competitors. This is called your Unique Selling Proposition (or USP for short).
You need to create and announce a USP that identifies your restaurant and makes it a unique establishment.
So how can you do that? Don’t worry, I will help you out. Just follow these easy three steps and you’ll be on your way to creating your own USP:
1. Make a list of the real benefits or advantages that you currently offer to your clients.
Think about what’s special about your restaurant. Is it your food? Your wine selection? Your service? Your location? Your decorations? Do you offer live music? Do you have a large menu selection? Open kitchen? Etc.
Ask your customers, your employees and your providers what makes your restaurant special or different. Perhaps you have a unique recipe that people really appreciate and come to enjoy, or perhaps your chef comes out of the kitchen and greets the clients, or you have bilingual servers who can communicate with foreign travelers in their native languages.
Some aspects that can help you determine your USP are:
• A wide variety of dishes in the menu
• Unique, ethnic meals or menu items
• Restaurant especially designed to accommodate families (with a play area or toys or entertainment for children, etc.)
• Reasonable prices
• Quality of the food
• Originality of the dishes
• Impeccable presentation
• Excellent service (good is not good enough: it must be excellent to make an impact!)
• Wide wine selection or special hard-to-find wines
• Wide beer selection or special hard-to-find beers
• Specialty cocktails
• Open kitchen where people can see/talk to your cooks
• Beautifully decorated place
• Live music
• Candles on the tables
• Cloth linens
• Original art on the walls
• Any other distinct advantage that you may have or can provide that your competitors don’t provide.
2. Make a second list of benefits or special things that your competitors offer but you don’t.
For example, do they have a big place and your restaurant is small? Do they offer a full bar and you don’t? Do they have a super-chef with a reputation that you cannot offer? Do they have an excellent location while your place is out of the way?
3. List the ways that you could improve upon your competitor’s unique advantages.
If their place is big and yours is small, you can use this to your advantage by stating that you offer “A unique experience in a cozy atmosphere where you’ll receive very personalized treatment”.
Or the opposite - if your place is large, you can say “We have facilities large enough to accommodate your office party or your special occasion”.
Or you could compensate for not having a full bar by offering an extensive and excellent selections of wine.
If you have a great location, say that you are “conveniently located in the middle of the city, within walking distance from…”
Or if you are out of the way, you can always say “our restaurant offers free parking and it’s worth it the trip, since you’ll surely enjoy an extraordinary dining experience”…
You get the idea, right?
So write down the top five advantages and/or differentiators that make your place unique. Then combine them into one short sentence or phrase.
This will become your USP
Once you come up with your USP, write it down, review it and edit it several times to make it as clear and complete as possible.
Write your new USP in a one paragraph statement. You may have problems expressing it concisely and clearly. It may take a few paragraphs. That’s OK.
Now you need to edit down all the fluff (trim the fat), and focus on the core message until you have a clear and unique USP that people will recognize and immediately identify with your restaurant. It needs to become one memorable sentence.
Share it with your employees; share it with your clients. Announce it to the world by using it in all your marketing and sales materials...
Remember, attention spans are getting shorter these days, so your USP must be short and memorable.
If you follow some of these techniques, and come up with a powerful and memorable UPS, you will be ahead of your competitors who simply announce their restaurants in the most traditional ways.
People respond to short and remarkable messages. If you can articulate the essence of your place in a few precise words, and consistently use them to promote your business, you should be able to stand out from the crowd.
Jose L Riesco