Tap Into Your Customers’ Needs To Find A Solid Unique Selling Proposition For Your Restaurant Business
The food industry is a high-risk business proposition. You’ve got a lofty level of competition and a lot of details to perfect. There’s always a lot of competition in the restaurant industry.
To succeed, restaurant owners (be it fast foods, diners or exquisite restaurants) have to make sure to stay up-to-date with food trends and how they impact their menu, day-to-day operations, marketing and more.
All restauranteurs face many of the same challenges. Take heart in the fact that you are not alone, and that these common challenges also have strategies for overcoming them.
By approaching these challenges as opportunities, you can make your business stronger and increase your chances of success.
According to an often-quoted study, 60% of businesses fail in the first year. How do you ensure your restaurant’s success?
What Makes Your Restaurant Unique?
Why should current or potential patrons bother about your brand and food? This is a question that restaurateurs fail to answer because they don’t know why people should eat at their restaurant and not at their competitors.
Many restaurant owners say that what makes them unique is their menu, but what they don’t understand is that a menu is a given due to the nature of the business.
Are you a bakery, a fast food joint or a luxury bar? A diner or romantic experience? Your customers need to know why they should eat and wine at your restaurant and not at your competitor’s.
Anyone can have great food and great service, how do you go beyond that? The answer is a 360º dining experience!
While a superb menu and excellent customer service are vital to your success, they are not a unique selling point. They are merely meeting the expectations of your customers. It is time to exceed them.
You need an original idea – something even better than great food and service. Come up with a unique reason for people to eat at your restaurant.
Let me first define what your Unique Selling Point or Proposition is
USP – which stands for unique selling proposition –is a term that you can use to explain what makes your restaurant unique compared to the competition.
Think of it as understanding the similarities between your restaurant and another, but being able to identify the “extra things” that set you apart.
Extra things could be dishes, cooking techniques, services, or specific ingredients. You might cuddle everyone who orders an extra dish on the menu, who knows!
A unique selling point offers your customers a feeling that enables them to remember you long after they are gone. Let your food, your service, and your unique selling point and identity make an emotional connection with your customers.
This means that you need to define your brand story — what people will know you for — and this comes in the form of how they engage with your brand.
For example, if you have a healthy lifestyle restaurant, it wouldn’t make sense to showcase as your brand positioning something like “finger-lickin’ good,” which is tied directly with KFC. You probably want something that relates more to the story you’re telling and the type of audience you want to impact.
In a nutshell, your food, your service, your brand, and your story will create your identity and uniqueness to engage with your customers emotionally.
There are different pathways to creating your restaurant’s USP. Here are some with examples of brands that are implementing:
How do you position what it is that you do or sell different from every other restaurant or eatery in your industry?
Take a look at Matunuck Oyster Bar in South Kingstown, Rhode Island
“We are committed to uniting fresh, locally grown produce with farm-raised and wild-caught seafood to make the freshest dishes you’ll find anywhere. Our signature raw bar offers a variety of Rhode Island oysters, crisp cherrystones, littleneck clams, and jumbo shrimp. Our Matunuck Oysters are grown in Potter Pond right off our waterfront patio and many of our herbs and vegetables are grown in our vegetable farm on the north end of the pond.”
This is another way you can set yourself apart from the competition… so if you can do it fast – as fast as when “Dominoes had – in 30 minutes or less guaranteed”
Take a look at how airport dental & medical did it
And the good thing is it is possible to go from having no teeth to a functional and attractive set of replacement teeth in one treatment session.
3. A Guarantee
Whatever USP you pick, consider tacking on a guarantee. That will make your USP even stronger.
It could be a money-back guarantee, a guaranteed outcome, a guaranteed quality level or return policy.
Take Zappos for example, a fashion brand USP example. Zappos is known for the awesome buying experience — they provide free shipping & return. This way people are not afraid of ordering multiple pairs of shoes as it’s easy to return those that don’t fit.
4. Try before you buy
Women’s lingerie is a billion-dollar industry, so a brand like Third Love had to find a way to make sure they were able to compete with the legacy brands.
ThirdLove has made their “we have the right fit” USP an integral part of their branding. It’s not just a key part of the messaging in their ads and the copy on their site—they even have a Fit Finder quiz that allows first-time customers to find the right fit for them.
To go even deeper on their promise, they also offer half-sizes and a “try before you buy” guarantee.
Take note that USPs may touch on Price, Service, Quality, Exclusivity, or any other aspect of the Business.
Standing out from the crowd is one of the toughest challenges any restaurant will face. To cut through the competition, successful restaurants are able to differentiate themselves by specifying what makes them better.
Grubhub outlines the following steps to formulate this unique selling proposition:
- Distinguish Yourself. Pinpoint what makes your restaurant distinct, such as using only sustainable ingredients, offering authentic ethnic cuisine, or family recipes.
- Identify Your Customer. Target specific customers who will connect with your distinct characteristics, rather than trying to appeal to everyone.
- Spread The Word. Craft a statement that succinctly summarizes how your unique selling point will benefit your target customer, and use that in every marketing piece. Your unique selling proposition will differentiate your restaurant from the competition and attract customers that resonate with your brand.
Once you have a vague idea of what your USP is, it might help to express it as a positioning statement so you can get it down on paper:[YOUR BRAND] offers [PRODUCT/SERVICE] for [TARGET MARKET] to [VALUE PROPOSITION].
Unlike [THE ALTERNATIVE], we [KEY DIFFERENTIATOR].
This won’t be exactly what you advertise on your website, but it should help you clarify your USP, its audience, and any specific differentiators that might be worth highlighting.
As a business, you need to figure out what is the unique benefit or advantage you offer to an existing or future client, that they would choose you over the competition.
Figure this out by:
- Identifying what advantages or results your clients want the most.
- Positioning your product or service ( in this case, your restaurant business) as having a unique benefit they are not getting from the competitors.
- Incorporating the unique benefit or advantage in everything you say and do.
Here’s what you can do better:
Get to know your competition. What are they doing poorly? What do they excel at? Connect with them on social media, visit the restaurant and subscribe to their email list.
Don’t wonder what your customers want, just ask them. How? Managers can visit the table and see how diners are doing. You can conduct surveys discussing different areas such as the menu, the service, and the atmosphere.
Make marketing a priority. It’s a great way to promote what makes you different. Leverage email marketing and social media as they are relatively inexpensive marketing channels.
You want your customers to return, so give them a reason to. Make each visit unique and memorable. This is one of the most important areas in which you set your restaurant apart.
Reward your loyal customers by providing them an incentive to return. Use a customer loyalty program and promote it in your restaurant, on your website, through email and social media.
Analyze your menu. Keep track of which high-profit items are selling the best and which items aren’t. Ask your customers what they think and what they love on your menu.
Once you’ve settled on what sets you apart, be consistent.