The food business, in general, is difficult to break into, but with the creation of digital tools and sites, it has become far harder. Between review websites such as TripAdvisor and Yelp, along with tools for online ordering and table bookings, it is clear that customers are demanding more from their food...and the restaurant itself.
However, the new trend of food seems to be moving away from traditional, full-service chain models to restaurants that are homegrown, local and offer menus that demonstrate the neighboorhood's taste. Couple that with specials, deals and other discounts to drive local foot traffic, and it becomes much easier to capture the market.
There are some easy ways to differentiate as a local restaurant, and really focus on why customers should go to you rather than traditional chains.
A recent article on this topic summarized exactly what customers are seeking from their local restaurants:
Today's dining public wants local flavors, original menu options and to feel good about supporting the local economy.
Creating an experience that amplifies these elements, along with some simple tips and tricks can really help drive long-term success:
1) Highlight local ingredients whenever possible
Trends indicate that local ingredients can be a major attraction for savvy diners and a great way to capture hard-to-reach demographics. A recent article stated that 63% of millennials are now favoring heritage dining.
But how do you translate this trend in more tangible ways? Use your menu as a platform to demonstrate the wide variety of local ingredients you use. This could span from produce to meat, to dairy - either way, use this opportunity to show diners why your area is so special and why the experience is so unique.
2) Dishes that correspond with local attractions
The dishes you offer are incredibly important as a local restaurant, especially if you are constantly competing with nationwide chains. However, the latter are limited when it comes to their menu, and that becomes their weakness.
Nationwide chains must serve a broad population, and therefore are less able to show creativity and highlight local attractions. That standardization is their flaw, and that is what you should capitalize on as a local restaurant.
Eschew traditional, overloaded menus for dishes that highlight your local identity and really provide a feel for the area. Whether it is local natural attractions, or simple spices and flavors, do not be afraid to be creative.
3) Dominate the local market and watch customers flock to you
The best way to dominate the local market? Using a personal touch, always. Not only does this enhance the experience for the diners, but it provides a level of word-of-mouth that is hard to achieve otherwise.
Besides using your menu and dishes as a way to attract this crowd, think of ways to upgrade the level of hospitality you offer. Emerging technologies such as menu analytics, loyalty programs, seamless table booking and online ordering can make a real difference for diners since it combines authenticity and convenience.
Restaurants can be a competitive market to break into and find long-term success in. However, our solutions can help enable restaurants to be as successful as possible while still being cost-effective - contact us to learn more