Many restaurants have that one competing restaurant next door, across the street or around the corner, which always seems busy and drives you nuts. Why do people flock there? Is it their food? no, you’ve tried it and its ok, so what is it? Competition is a part of business and it can be the name of the game in the restaurant world.
Keep Your Enemies Close
Ok, they might not be your enemy, but they are your competitor. The first thing you need to do is befriend them. A friendship with a competitor will allow you inside access to their operation. They might even openly discuss their weaknesses. A friendly relationship with your competitors, regardless of how you feel about them personally, will expose all sorts of information. Information is power.
Conversely, don’t give away your weaknesses. They might figure them out anyway, but don’t offer them. Have a friendly relationship but be an ice berg. Show them everything is great. Don’t discuss the issues you have with your operation. Be friendly, but understand you are competitors at the end of the day. They could use your information against you, just like you may against them.
Exploit Their Weaknesses
Determine their weaknesses. Talk to them. Talk to their employees, talk to their customers. Once you have determined their weaknesses, its time to exploit them. Are customers frustrated with the wait time? If so, see what you can do to make sure your wait time is faster. Adopt their weaknesses as your own and see how you can do better.
Play to the Undecided
There are customers planning to go to your competition. There are customers planning to go to your restaurant, and then there are a whole lot of customers that aren’t sure where they are going to eat. What can you do to capture the undecided customers? These are the questions to ask. What can you do to have customers thinking about your restaurant before your competitor?
What can you do if you are in the same shopping center with your competitor, but they are closer to the parking and people walk past them first? Maybe you can put an advertisement or sign in the parking lot or where people come out. Possibly with specials or something to make them start thinking of you.
Start asking yourself these sorts of questions to see if you can come up with some strategies for capturing the undecided.
Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are excellent ways to reach your customer base with specific advertisements. Ads on these social media platforms can target people down to their favorite foods and location. Never before has such narrow customer targeting been available.
If you don’t have the budget to pay for social media advertising, get some home-grown social media hype going. Social media is a great place for word to travel and you can boost this by offering prizes, like gift cards and discounts to your loyal customers who pass along your posts and ads.
Having a strong social media presence is necessary today. You need to have a lot of loyal customers following your restaurant on social media. Then you can post pictures of delicious food, making them both hungry and desiring your offerings. You can also post fun things like happy hour specials, limited time specials and pop up specials.
Speaking of pop ups, while pop up menu items are becoming more common, they are an excellent example of guerilla marketing. Guerilla marketing consists of marketing and promotions which are creative and out of the box. Pop ups are fun and now they are popping all over the place. What fun methods can you come up with to lure customers into your restaurant?
The restaurant business is one of the most competitive industries. You are always going to have competition. Try to out do your competition by getting to know them and learning their weaknesses. Use this to your advantage to try and capture the undecided, possibly by using creative guerilla marketing techniques. Be sure your social media game is on point.