11 Tips for Making Your Chain Restaurant Stand Out
Whether you manage one restaurant in a franchise or have multiple locations in a chain to take care of, you want to stand out from other eateries nearby. Unique touches, from the furniture you put outside to what you offer inside, can make your chain restaurant appeal to more customers.
Here are 11 tips for making your chain restaurant stand out, which you can apply across your restaurant franchises or at the location you manage.
1. Use Unique Promotions
One way to make your restaurant stand out is identifying what other restaurants do and doing the exact opposite.
For example, during festive and high-traffic periods — like national holidays, New Year’s Day, Valentine’s Day and the Fourth of July — restauranteurs see it as an opportunity to make gain by rolling out menus with higher prices.
To stand out, you can do the opposite — lower your price or expand your menu offerings.
In addition to offering lower prices for special menus, you can provide menus that will only be available during that period. Or, create deals that cost less than the sum of the individual food items. On Valentine’s Day, this could be a complimentary dessert to share with any two entree orders.
Appeal to more customers by advertising these unique promotions leading up to the special time of year. To stand out even further, you can choose a day that’s special to your chain or your individual location to offer these specials, like the anniversary of when you opened.
2. Show up at Pop-Up Events
Pop-up events like festivals, music shows, sporting events, games and other public events are great opportunities to get more eyes on your menu and restaurant. These events provide a ready crowd of hungry people to feed and introduce to your chain location.
Consider contributing to the event and providing flyers, short URL codes, posters and special offers at the event to entice guests to visit your restaurant.
Attending local events as a supporter can help your chain restaurant stand out and appear as part of the area rather than a larger franchise.
3. Be Involved in the Community
If locals see your restaurants as humanitarian, they’d consider your business as one of them. And people like patronizing their own.
Giving back to the community where your restaurant operates is a great way to pull yourself away from the multitude of restaurants clamoring for diners. It’ll also make you a preferred choice for local customers.
There are multiple ways you can be involved in the community, such as:
- Join a food drive: You can volunteer your restaurant to join a food drive in your community. This choice will position your restaurant as an organization that cares for locals, and diners love organizations that care about their community.
- Start your own food drive: If there is no existing food drive, you can start your own. This will get more people to know your restaurant in your community and differentiate your business from the competitors.
- Join in local humanitarian events: If your local community organizes another type of event, like toy or clothes drives, volunteer to join and play a major role. For example, you can volunteer to provide the refreshments at the event. This will get more people to attach your brand to help and humanitarian deeds.
- Avoid waste: Instead of throwing away unused food, you can instead channel it to social programs in your community that provide those in need with access to meals and ingredients.
4. Ask Your Customers for Feedback
Reach out to your customers to understand what they like about your restaurant. Also gather feedback on what they wish you had that you don’t. Be sure to welcome negative feedback, as well, as these are opportunities for your chain location to improve.
Of course, to use customer feedback, you’ll need to first collect it. A few ways you can get feedback from your restaurant customers include:
- Customer surveys: Include information at diners’ tables with a link or QR code that takes them to a survey site. For an old-school option, leave comment cards out and encourage guests to complete them. Use simple questions and number rankings, like asking customers how they would rank your waitstaff’s attentiveness out of 10. You can also include an open-ended question for general feedback.
- Testimonials: A testimonial goes a bit more in-depth and creates a story about their experience. Maybe your chain location hosts events, which you can ask the customer to provide a testimonial for that you can publish on your location’s social media or specific website.
- Online reviews: Google, Yelp and other platforms let customers easily post and see reviews. Because of that, you’ll want to keep an eye on how your chain location is fairing. You can scan through these reviews without having to collect feedback from customers yourself, so be sure to use this readily available resource.
- Customer purchase pattern: Another way to get customer feedback is to look at what they always buy. Your most sold and least sold items are your customers’ indirect statements of preference.
Gathering this feedback and ensuring you implement it in a way that your customers see the changes will position you as the chain location that prioritizes its clientele. To further illustrate this point to customers, make an effort to reply to feedback — both positive and negative — to show you engage with everyone and intend to improve.
The key to using customer feedback to stand out is putting aside any subjective ideas you have about your establishment. It may be difficult, but remember that implementing customer feedback is an opportunity to stand out and grow.
Look for trends, in particular, and focus your efforts on what you see often. Do you need to train waitstaff on timeliness? Do you need to update your decor? Create goals based on these feedback points.
5. Try out New Trends
In the age of constant innovation, only restaurants that watch, follow and overtake trends will stand out.
Across the board, there are various ways you can jump on new trends to make your restaurant unique, such as:
- Integrate technology into your service: Figure out the tech trend in your community and jump on it. If you observe your prospective customers are onto a new social media platform, join before other restaurant competitors do. If customers now prefer a new kind of payment — for example, crypto or a new app — jump on it.
- Join movements and communities: Your customers love restaurants that care about something. Environmental and eco-friendly companies are on the top right now. In the restaurant industry, farm-to-table services are attracting more crowds. If that’s not your chain’s style, go for sustainable features, like using outdoor furniture made of recycled plastic lumber.
- Customize meals and menus: If you have some freedom with your chain’s offerings, take advantage of that while keeping demographics in mind. What Generation Z members will love may not be what baby boomers or millennials will want to eat. Also, preference may vary across ethnic groups and nationalities. Customizing your establishment’s offerings to meet different customer demographics will make your restaurant the delight of everyone. Even if you can’t customize meal menus, see about offering unique drinks.
- Be a trendsetter: Don’t wait for trends to kick off. Instead, set the trends. If possible, you can introduce new flavors, exotic food items and dishes to your menu. Or, create a stylish outdoor dining area that no one else around has.
6. Improve Your Menu
Diners come to your restaurants for one main thing — food. You can make your establishment stand out fast by differentiating your menu. Knowing what your customers buy most and what they buy less can shine some light on what to do to improve your offerings.
One way to improve your menu is to introduce items that are exciting and delicious, if you’re able to. If you can add food selections that induce cravings, your diners will want to frequent your restaurant for that delicious experience.
If you can’t alter your menu as part of a chain, consider how your dish is presented. For instance, can your customers snap a picture of their plates and send them to their friends or share them on social media with pride? If not, you can improve your food presentation. Think about the colors in the food and whether they stand out on your plates or if they all blend together. Contrast, in both colors and textures, can enhance the visual dining experience.
In addition to adding mouth-watering and sensory dishes, another way to make your restaurant stand out is to create a unique menu presentation. Instead of just listing your meals like every other restaurant in town, take a step further and add extra information about each menu item.
Here are some ideas on what to add to your menu to make it unique:
- Ingredients used
- The origin of the delicacy
- High-quality, accurate photos of every dish
- The uniqueness of your cooking process
- Enticing language that highlights how delicious everything is
7. Use Social Media
According to Statista, 3.6 billion people used social media worldwide in 2020. This number will likely reach 4.41 billion by 2025.
What does this mean to you as a chain restaurant manager? You can use social media to stand out while also reaching an expansive audience, especially if other restaurants in the area are not using their platforms effectively.
If your customers enjoy their meal and experience at your restaurant, they will most likely take a picture and post it on social media. To stand out from other restaurants, stay alert for any mention of your business on social media platforms. When customers tag you on their posts on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, engage on all of them.
This engagement can be in the form of liking, sharing and commenting on their posts. Sharing, in particular, lets you present user-generated content to your current followers, giving your chain location a marketing boost.
Encourage these posts in your restaurant with information at every table about hashtags to use and your chain location’s handles on all platforms. Customers can easily tag your restaurant if they know its information.
In addition to putting your restaurant consistently in front of potential customers online, staying active on social media can help protect your reputation. For example, you can quickly address any poor experience that a customer had at any of your restaurants and shared online.
To make your social media handle viral, you can organize online contests and giveaways on social media, if permitted by the franchise you’re a part of. The reward for this contest can be a free meal ticket to your restaurant, coupons or gift cards. In festive periods like Valentine’s Day, your rewards can be a meal ticket for a couple.
8. Offer Loyalty Programs
Loyalty programs both help keep your existing customers and attract new ones through word of mouth from satisfied customers. There are several ways to organize and launch a loyalty program:
- Personalized offers: You can send personalized offers or discounts to your loyal customers on their special days, like birthdays or anniversaries of them signing up as a reward member.
- Offers for returning customers: You can also send special offers and discounts to your return customers thanking them for coming back to your restaurant. Punch cards are a simple physical form of this, where the purchase of so many meals or drinks earns each customer a free one.
- Referral rewards: If you offer the opportunity for customers to order online, you can provide unique codes and links for your loyal customers to share with their friends. They get a commission or reward for every meal order you receive through their link. Whoever they send the link to can also receive a discount as an incentive to order.
The best rewards bring customers back to your restaurant, like a meal voucher or a discount on their next visit to any of your restaurants.
Loyalty programs can enable you to stand out from the crowd. Effective loyalty programs make your customers feel appreciated and help mobilize more free word-of-mouth marketing for your business. All of these factors come together to make your restaurants the obvious choice for diners.
If you manage one or a few restaurants in a larger chain, communicate with higher-ups to see if you can offer these loyalty programs and if you can extend rewards to other locations in the franchise.
9. Host Events
If you can’t attend or support local events, host your own instead. Putting on events shows your community involvement, even as a chain. Here are some events you can host:
- Cooking competition
- Cooking exhibition by famous chefs
- Talent shows
- Music shows
- Live bands
These and other events help bring more eyes to your restaurants and increase brand awareness for your chain. They can also improve your reputation and increase the desire of locals to visit your restaurant or give you a try.
At these events, you can also organize contests that offer gifts in the form of gift cards, discounts or vouchers to participants and their friends or family members.
The best events are those that are personalized to your local community. Look for themes and events that your local community will resonate with. If your area is full of murals and art museums, take the festivities outside and host a paint and pour event, where guests drink, eat and create art.
10. Boost Your Curb Appeal
While an attractive interior helps customers feel comfortable and welcomed, you need to bring them in the door to experience what your restaurant offers inside. To do this, focus efforts on improving curb appeal. An attractive exterior lets your chain location stand out from others and competitors nearby. Try these ideas to boost your chain restaurant’s exterior:
Remember the Landscaping
Even if your chain location is in an urban area, landscaping helps create an enticing and comfortable feel. Work with professional landscapers who can suggest flowers, bushes and trees that will thrive in your area. To make your restaurant stand out from the competition even further, choose evergreen options that stay vivid year-round.
Turn on the Lights
Use outdoor lighting to show off your facade, your landscaping and your outdoor dining area at night. Light up your parking area, as well, to help ensure visitor safety. These details show off your chain location at night, making it an appealing option for passersby.
Add Some Signs
In addition to your “open” sign, you can add some signs on your curbside to inform passersby of special offerings, menus and promotions to pull them into your restaurant. If you have a particularly artistic member of your staff, ask them to get creative with a colorful chalkboard sign you place outside. Funny or witty signs, if they suit your chain’s theme, will show off your brand’s personality and potentially gain social media attention.
11. Create a Beautiful Outdoor Dining Experience
The key to an appealing curbside outdoor eating space is durable and attractive furnishings. At Wabash Valley Site Furnishings, we provide you with a quality catalog of outdoor furniture to create a curbside outdoor eating space that stands out. Choose from a variety of outdoor dining sets available in different colors and styles to suit your chain location’s theme.
If most restaurants in your community are indoors only, you can stand out by creating an appealing and beautiful outdoor dining experience for your chain location.
The benefits of a beautiful outdoor dining space include that it:
- Provides you with free advertisement.
- Provides your customer with more dining options.
- Helps draw in passersby into your restaurant who see happy diners outside.
Here are outdoor dining ideas you can implement for your chain of restaurants to help you stand out.
Outdoor Dining Sidewalks
You don’t need an expansive area to invite some guests to eat outside. A set of quality outdoor chairs and umbrellas on your sidewalk can appeal to passersby on a sunny and cool day, maximizing your chain restaurant’s seating options.
Outdoor Decks and Patios
You can convert your patio or deck to an outdoor dining space. With the right furnishings and canopies, you can create more space to serve your customers. Offer your deck or patio as an event space to meet specific needs and make your chain location stand out.
If you have a vacant rooftop and the proper permits, you can set up simple furnishings and shades, with proper lighting and cooling to serve your customers. Stylish commercial umbrellas will keep your guests cool, even as they’re dining with a view from above.
Regardless of the dining setup and ambiance you choose to create, the key to creating a beautiful outdoor experience is using the best exterior furniture. That is what Wabash Valley Furnishings can offer you.
Make Your Chain Restaurant Stand Out
The key to standing out is to look for what other restaurants are doing and do the exact opposite.
The competition is tough, and your customers have a lot of options to choose from. Standing out from the lot makes you an obvious choice. The best furnishings can help your chain rise above others.
Wabash Valley Furnishings is a leader in quality commercial outdoor furniture. We offer an array of outdoor restaurant furnishings to help you provide your customers with the best experience that will make them choose your location over others.
Browse our outdoor furnishings catalog for items to enhance your chain location.
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