The food industry is thriving, but it is also very cutthroat. The overheads in food-based businesses are so high that even if you bring in customer after customer, you can still lose money. To make your business profitable, you first need to attract customers, and then you need to rework your menu and pricing so that things stay in the green. If you’re having trouble getting people into the door, however, or haven’t even launched, then use this guide to help increase interest and footfall.
Choose a Niche
The first step in making your restaurant stand out is to find a niche that sets you apart from your competitors. This is, of course, helpful in any industry, but the more you can stand out in the restaurant industry, the more you are likely to succeed. You can choose a niche like farm-to-table, vegan or gluten-free, or any other specialty that caters to the needs of your target customers. Simply put, it’s your unique selling point (USP); why should a customer come to you rather than go anywhere else? You should make it clear what you will provide and the type of experience they should expect to get. You might set yourself apart as the only family place in the area or perhaps the place to go for a selective date night. You might have a few signature dishes which are yours alone and that everyone craves. Whatever it is, a niche helps to define your brand, giving your customers a clear understanding of what sets you apart from other restaurants in the market. This way, your name will immediately come to mind when they are searching for a particular experience, or at least will be memorable as one of the options around – simply blending in will mean you are passed over constantly for something more exciting.
Create a Great Ambience
The ambience of your bistro plays a significant role in attracting customers. Pick a theme and carry it through. Try to choose something that’s timeless but still trendy enough to attract new customers. Think about the decor, the lighting, the music, the layout of your offerings, the plates you use, and more. All of this will play a big part in making your bistro a hot destination for take-away and dine-in meals. You should pay careful attention to what is working and what isn’t, as well as what your customers are using your restaurant for. You might have a certain aim and market in mind, but in reality, it might be that your customers find your restaurant fills a different need. For instance, you might have expected it to be a perfect evening experience, but actually, customers prefer to come to you at lunchtime. There might be various things you want to do to change this, but you could also embrace it and change your ambience to reflect the customer’s needs. You could try to be flexible enough in your ambience and decoration to appeal to multiple audiences. For instance, if you have flexible lighting, you could appeal to customers throughout the day and throughout the year. If you are a very dark restaurant, you might only appeal in winter or at night, when lighting is needed anyway – in summer, other restaurants will be preferred.
Look the Part with a Great Uniform
Your staff is the face of your bistro, so it’s important to dress them in uniforms that reflect your brand. The uniform should be comfortable and stylish, and it should also be practical for the staff to work in. A great uniform helps to create a sense of unity among your staff and helps to reinforce your brand. You don’t need to overthink it, either. Aprons from Aprons.com USA, embroidered with your restaurant’s logo, can be more than enough to unify your staff and make it easy for your customers to identify who is who. This can mean a big difference in customer satisfaction – if there is a problem (or even a request for more food or drink), then a customer will want to identify and contact a member of staff as quickly as possible. In places where the uniform is more casual or hard to identify, customers can become frustrated and displeased with their experience.
Invite News Media and Influencers
Getting your bistro in the news can do wonders for your business. You can invite local news media and food bloggers to come and review your restaurant for a special event, for example. Alternatively, put together a great launch event and notify local news agencies and food and travel Instagram accounts in a PR release. This can drum up interest and help make your new bistro viral from launch. You might be able to negotiate some content with them as well – perhaps they could write about types of restaurants and include yours, or perhaps you could ask them to write a piece on just your business. There are many ways you can work with influences and the media to get into the public eye.
Organize Special Events
You want people to keep coming in, so give them something new. You could host special menus. You can even have after-hours events, like a pop-up bar and DJ event on a certain day. You can organize wine-tasting events, cooking classes, or food festivals that cater to your target audience. These events not only help to create buzz around your bistro but also give your customers a reason to come back. Becoming a community hub can really help word of your business spread to those in your neighborhood and beyond – and is once again great bait that can draw in news media. This is a hard balance as you do not want to drive customers away by being (or giving the impression of being) driven only by appearance, only visited because of the brand, and something to be seen, rather than an experience to be enjoyed. If you look to engage with the local community, you are more likely to receive publicity that reflects well on your business. For instance, you could sponsor events, head to festivals, offer space for groups, and so on.