Congratulations on keeping your restaurant thriving in this day and age! You deserve a prize for your resilience and grit.
Becoming a restaurateur is no easy feat. The effort and financial investment involved in getting your dream from conception to realization, along with the unique challenges of day-to-day operations, means only the most determined will be able to establish a successful business.
If you’re reading this, you’ve likely charged on through every obstacle put in your way, and are one of the ones who have made your dream come true. You are also likely to be acutely aware that, frankly, it’s a tough time to be a restaurateur.
Why Restaurants Need a Resilient Marketing Strategy
There are many challenges posed by an economy on the precipice of disaster, the ever-evolving menace of pandemics, and consumers who have less discretionary income.
Foot traffic to most restaurants has been on the decline, according to market experts. With such a wide variety of competitors vying for the attention of the few who dine out, your business may experience severe stress.
You can’t change anything about the circumstances in which you find yourself. That’s beyond the purview of even a conglomerate of large restaurant owners, as global and economic factors will continue to evolve and shift.
Your top priority should be building a resilience-focused marketing strategy. Take measures to ensure you get inventory on time, that your dining room is a place customers would die to frequent, and that your marketing storytelling is amplified by technology.
Furthermore, prioritize sustainability. The secret to competing against the heavyweights of the industry is simple, if difficult to execute: become your customers’ preference, and be the best spot on the block.
This article will unpack a few key tips and tricks you can weave into your marketing strategy to make your restaurant the most celebrated dining experience in your area.
Optimize Supply Chains, Reduce Costs, and Maintain Pricing Resilience
First, we have to deal with one of the most important factors in whether a customer (especially a first-timer) decides to patronize your business: pricing. With so little disposable income going around, customers will not hesitate to pass on restaurants that charge prices that they deem excessive.
The root cause of pricing spikes is usually rising supply chain costs, which are then passed on to the consumer so the business can maintain its profit margins. However, few restaurateurs consider resolving this issue any other way; which, if left unchecked, can be fatal. Increasing costs to keep the budget balanced is effective in the short term. But as costs continue to fluctuate, other measures will need to be adopted to avoid charging exorbitant prices, alienating regulars, and frightening off prospective new customers.
If you’ve been grappling with this problem and you’re looking for a way to resolve it without increasing prices, try any of these strategies:
- Ordering bulk goods. It may seem counterintuitive, but bulk ordering ingredients for your restaurant is actually one of the best ways to keep shipping costs down. Fewer trips will be needed for you to get everything your establishment needs to function.
- Optimize your shipping routes. Not only does this reduce your carbon footprint (a great sustainability practice that you can then market to your customers), but it also helps you find the shortest, most cost-effective way for your orders to be shipped.
- Shop with partners that use energy-efficient vehicles. This also helps keep your overall costs down, as these partners may charge less for their labor, with fewer resources being spent to deliver your orders.
Conducting some research on what your competitors are offering pricing-wise is a good way to take the temperature of your own pricing. Online reviews are a great way for you to collect information about customers’ preferences, including what they consider reasonable pricing for a night out. You can also browse reviews of your establishment to gauge whether you might need to lower prices, or if your customers would be willing to pay more.
Creating a More Enticing Dining Atmosphere with Color Psychology
Your restaurant undoubtedly has an atmosphere all its own, as unique as the person who created it. However, when considering how to make your dining room a more appealing, eye-catching spot for potential customers, it’s worth evaluating how “eye-popping” your dining room is – and the subconscious effect your use of color and lighting has on the customer.
Color psychology is the study of the effects of color on the human mind, and what it teaches us is that some colors are more likely than others to evoke feelings of relaxation and happiness. Different colors produce different subconscious effects on diners. The careful application of color theory principles in menu design, dining atmosphere, and restaurant branding will help promote the image you want to promote.
Some of the unconscious associations we make with colors are:
- Red – Passion, love, and energy
- Blue – peace, calm, and understanding
- Yellow – joy, optimism, and thinking
- Green – harmony, renewal, and growth
Conduct an audit of how your establishment uses color. Are you evoking the feelings you want your brand to evoke? If not, you may want to make use of this often-overlooked essential marketing technique.
Embracing Sustainability and Customer-Centric Approaches in Marketing
Finally, sustainability is more than a buzzword, although plenty are using it as such – it’s a priority that customers have been very vocal about, and a boon to your bottom line. Embracing sustainability can give you a leg up in more ways than one. You can use cutting-edge green technologies to optimize practices, shape your brand around customer ideals, and cut unnecessary costs.
Evaluating your current adoption of sustainable practices (and your marketing of them to your customers) begins with answering three simple questions:
- How much waste does my establishment produce? Tracking food, energy, and water waste will help you identify problem areas, as well as potential solutions to cut costs.
- Are there green technologies present in my kitchen, and if not, can I invest in anything that could make my workers’ lives easier? Green technologies are on the very cutting edge of the industry, and can not only improve your workers’ ability to assemble and deliver orders speedily but also cut down on waste.
- How many of my sustainable practices am I advertising, and how can I do more? Making your private sustainability practices public-facing can do wonders for your brand image, and you should be promoting every aspect of what makes your restaurant the greenest on your block.
Pairing sustainable practices with color theory, mindful marketing, and optimized costs will serve to make your restaurant more desirable from a consumer perspective. These may seem like small pivots to you or me. However, optics is everything, and to truly differentiate oneself from the pack, to make sure the excellence and effort of your establishment are recognized in full, sometimes all you need to do is be the restaurant customers want to see.
BIO: Ainsley Lawrence is a freelance writer from the Pacific Northwest in the United States. She enjoys writing about better living through education and technology. She is frequently lost in a mystery podcast.