Well you were the best little restaurant in the area. Many of your patrons knew you personally. You knew that Sam liked his food with a little bit of spice and that little Emily was allergic to nuts. But now you have opened a major franchise restaurant two blocks from you. There have been several of your daily clients checking it out and your tables are almost empty. After the recession, business has been slow for a few months, and this latest market is seriously causing you nights of sleeplessness! What do you do, then? Throw in a towel or work out ways to fight back? Then fight back if you’re passionate about your restaurant! Here are some tips which can help:
Take a hard look at your business, first of all. Often we have no real competition, and we seem to have too much trust in what we do. Perhaps the slower speed is due to your complacency that for years came with being the local restaurant! But you need to examine if your current set-up has some potential for change. Have you had the same menu offered for a long time now? If the answer is yes, then it’s high time to start selling some new pieces. How about a painting job or a change in the atmosphere? Spruce your storefront up and give a pep talk to your employees as well.
Secondly, chat in your area/town with other small independent restaurants. Suggest that you hold a joint promotional blitz with them that will remind individuals why they have come to your restaurants. One way of reminding them that you and your team, are still one of them is an email campaign. In the email, the money they spend with you goes absolutely into the local economy. Wide national franchise chains, however, source supplies from outside and can also make little contribution to the local community. Often the patrons get to consume only the freshest food cooked daily in small business restaurants; something that also does not happen with chain restaurants.
Third, go back to the heart of your business, which is your culinary skills and food dishes. When you opened the restaurant, along with your passion and zeal for the business, it was these skills that set you apart from others. But somewhere along the line, in the hectic job of running a company, this passion and personality may have been lost. So it is time to bring that personality back to your business. When they come to your restaurant, remember to speak to your guests. In dealing with the patrons, ask the workers to be very sincere. Even if the user is just visiting for the second time, this will help win customer loyalty.
Finally, the trump card is to get consumer loyalty and it can be established with little items like a free drink with orders or a children’s free ice cream. Big chains have their own set of regulations which without corporate approval, they can not crack by providing such giveaways. Having the client feel like a king is the perfect way of advertising the beauty of your restaurant. So consider the advent of national franchise chains as a threat to your business sense and the willingness to own a restaurant. That way, when you learn to conduct your company in a new way, this obvious challenge can turn out to be a blessing in disguise.