My research shows you need more than great food, service, and atmosphere — the holy trinity of the restaurant business — to guarantee success for the units in the independent restaurant company you own.
My best clients build their successful multi-unit independent restaurant companies around the branding and experience business, not around the restaurant business. Their greatest asset as their net worth grows is the value of their brand. That drives their decisions not only about food, service, and atmosphere, but also about who they hire, how they onboard and educate them, how they serve their guest in the dining room and talk to them on social media, and how they market and differentiate their restaurants.
Defining Your Brand by Segment is Not Enough
I see businesses that define themselves as part of a segment: “We are fast casual pizza,” “We are full-service hamburgers,” “We are chef-driven dining,” “We are family dining,” etc. That becomes a trap — a box they put themselves in — because they rely on that definition, which also applies to a thousand other restaurants.
Once you truly differentiate your brand and experience, you can expect that prospective guests — the ones that ensure increased guest counts and comp sales every year (in other words, increased revenue and profit) — to make the choice to walk across the threshold of their front door and experience what they have to offer.
Send A Unique Message
The most successful independent restaurant company owners foster a unique relationship with their guests, generating a clear and constant message by adhering to their culture; through their hiring and training of employees; and by delivering a message through social media, advertising, and promotions that screams, “Sure, there are other restaurants in our segment — but nobody has what we have in the way we have it. So get in here!”
My clients Norma’s Café, updating a Dallas icon for the 21st century in a home cooking segment that everyone else is getting out of, and El Ranchito, the leading restaurant in North Texas catering to a Hispanic diner, are examples of this. If you want to increase revenue, maximize your net worth, and protect yourself from competition, here is what you can do.
4 Steps to Clarify Your Branding
- Evaluate your uniqueness. What leads to your strength within your segment?
- Where you find weaknesses, correct them — or determine how to turn your weakness into a strength, because it is different.
- Refocus your branding, messaging, culture, and employee education around this uniqueness.
- Once your guests respond, update this process periodically — but be strong and do not deviate from the core in anything you do.