Restaurant Real Estate Advisors specializes in providing first-time restaurateurs and national chains alike with the ideal location and an advisory process that carefully vets every facet of your transaction.
As Concordia St. Paul has noted, the commonly held notion that “90% of restaurants fail in the first year” might be a bit exaggerated; the true number is closer to 60%, a common rate for businesses across many industries. While this is encouraging for many prospective restaurant owners, it is important to remember that the threat of failure still exists, especially if a new venture is ill-advised or badly managed.
Aspiring new restaurant owners should have some experience in the industry so they know how to run the business from the ground up. According to Warehouse 115, you can keep costs low, by sourcing ingredients from a reputable wholesale supplier while investing in a good location, a distinct concept, hard-working staff, and innovative management. Let’s go over some of these basics in detail.
Excellent Location and Concept
These two elements go hand in hand. When you are thinking about your location, you should also consider the community you’re serving, so that you can settle on a concept. Are you setting up shop in a metropolitan area where there are a lot of young professionals? You may want to think about a café, tea house, or fast-casual restaurant that can serve as an informal meeting place or “third space,” a concept that evokes Starbucks’ set of aesthetic and service features that contribute to greater customer service experiences.
However, if you’re opening up near a suburb with a large number of single family homes, you might want to think about a sit-down family restaurant.
In terms of location, make sure your business is located in a busy area that is clearly visible from the street. It helps to have a good parking set-up too. As for your concept, do research on businesses and key demographics in the area so that you can personalize your business and set yourself apart from local competitors.
Solid Management and Winning Staff
You may have a great menu, but having the wrong management and staff can make it far too easy to run a restaurant into the ground, especially in the first year. After the excitement fades after your initial opening, you might see business drop. You need a solid management team that can run the restaurant and keep it afloat during that period and after. For example, management should be able to keep costs low and facilities clean. Many restaurants have been prematurely shut down because of health concerns, or they may have overspent on overhead costs while ignoring falling revenue.
You should also prioritize hiring enthusiastic and talented staff. A skilled chef is a must for many types of restaurants, and you need a great menu that will keep customers coming back for me. Also, excellent service can make or break a customer’s experience, so take your employees’ temperament, previous experience, and problem-solving skills into account prior to opening for business.
Keep in mind that running a restaurant takes a lot of time, energy, and patience. Successful owners must have an indelible passion for their business along with the motivation and flexibility to change with industry trends if they expect to survive, and ultimately thrive. You may experience a few initial obstacles while opening your restaurant, but you shouldn’t let those setbacks discourage you! If you have a sound strategy, a viable location, and something new to offer your community, you can expect success to build over time.
Author Bio: Michael Vincent is a freelance food writer and restaurateur from Dallas, TX. As a serious foodie, Michael is constantly seeking new and exciting food in Texas and around the world.
Michael Philippou & Victoria Philippou are the Co-Founders of Frozen Fruit Co. Frozen Fruit Co makes FroFru, a revolutionary vegan friendly soft serve made just from fruit and natural fruit sugars.
Please provide some information on your background and how you got into the food business?
Our journey into the food business began back in London, England. We were training as lawyers and as part of this our Law Firm sent us to do an MBA, before we starting our training at the firm. It was during this year that we both met and it planted the seeds of wanting to start and grow our own business.
Of course, we had no idea what business we actually wanted to do and furthermore we were tied in with our law firm in London for the next two years. It took about two years to come up with our concept. We were constantly searching and looking for gaps in the market. However, somehow we always came back to food.
We both love food (especially the sweeter things). One evening, Victoria came up with the idea for our FroFru. She had made the first ever batch of mango and strawberry and it was amazing. We couldn’t stop eating it. This was our light bulb moment. Why had no one ever made a healthier frozen treat made just from fruit and natural fruit sugars – a dessert which has big flavor, but that you can feel great about eating.
Frozen Fruit Co grew from there. We started researching the market, making batches and going on ice cream courses. No one was making anything close to what we were making in our apartment. The closest thing is a sorbet, but this is basically sugar water mixed with fruit flavor. In fact a lot of people in the industry simply thought it wouldn’t work. We used no base for any of our flavors and our FroFru simply did not fit into any frozen dessert category – ice cream, sorbet or frozen yogurt.
Within a few weeks of coming up with the idea, we knew LA and not London would be the perfect market. Less seasonal, more health conscious and the birth place of frozen desserts brands like Pinkberry. It took over two years to get here from London. In the interim, all we could do was test our flavors and branding in the UK and this is what we did. Selling small batches to retail stores and supermarkets. It wasn’t until we were starting to knock on the doors of supermarkets and garner feedback from them that we thought our desserts were really ready for the move to Los Angeles.
Prior to starting the process of finding a new location for Frozen Fruit Co., how long did you anticipate it would take to find a location and open for business?
Our time line for finding and opening was extremely tight. Everything was tied into our visa. We needed to show we had a lease and that the business would definitely launch before our visa would be granted. We had 3 months in Los Angeles to find a lease before we had to return to London. We then planned another 3 months from signing the lease before opening. From starting to look for a location to opening we anticipated a 6 month timeline. Whilst finding and signing a lease we managed within 3 months, it took 10 months from signing to opening the business. We completely underestimated the build out and the permitting process.
How did you first start looking for locations and what were your biggest challenges? I have been told by many clients that brokers advertising on sites such as loopnet are very non responsive. Was this your experience?
We had no knowledge of the Los Angeles real estate market or the real estate system. The system is different in the UK from searching to negotiating. We knew the main locations Beverly Hills and Santa Monica, but we needed to get a grip of all the areas to find the best location. To begin with our search focused on foot. We racked up the miles trying to get a feel for the types of units available and locations. We covered the whole of Los Angeles within 3 weeks. We started to call brokers directly after seeing advertisements on available buildings. However, often we would get no reply or the units were already let, or the landlord did not want a food concept. We had decided to narrow down our search to the Beverly Hills/West Hollywood area and Santa Monica. By this point we had found Loopnet, but it was very non-responsive and out of date. We felt like were missing something. It was at this point we started looking for a broker. We wanted someone specific to the industry and with restaurant experience. It was this point we found Mark. Mark helped us greatly in our search.
Through all of this the biggest challenge was being able to pitch to potential landlords our new concept. We didn’t have the time to source ingredients or the proper equipment to make our desserts. Time was just too limited. All we had was a pitch pack of our operations in the UK before closing and moving over and samples of our branding and packaging. This meant we had to really sell the concept. Something which was made more difficult by the fact that no one else was doing it and there was no easily definable category, like ice cream, which landlords could identify our offing with. We weren’t ice cream, or slushies we were FroFru.
How was your access to information working with a restaurant real estate advisor compared to searching on your own?
Access to information before we started working with a broker was basically limited to what we could find on the internet and Google. We both came from a legal background so being able to understand terms and leases was not the issue. What we lacked was knowledge on how to open a restaurant and the specific terms we would need in our lease. Having a broker on board who had this experience to help guide us made all the difference. Someone who could fill these gaps in our knowledge and point us in the right direction.
Before we get into the details of finding a location and negotiating a lease, what should readers know about the process of opening a business as a foreign citizen? What are the basic requirements to operate in the U.S.?
At the time of opening we came on an E2 visa. This is a business investment visa. Under it most individuals will buy a pre-existing business or franchise in the United States. The minimum investment is $100,000 and you need to show you are creating US jobs and that your business or franchise is viable and a going concern. If you decided to buy a business or franchise the process is much simpler as you often are simply taking over a pre-existing lease. The process becomes harder when you want to start a whole new concept from scratch, like we did. This is because you need to find and get in place a lease for your business, as well as spend at least $75,000 of the start-up funds (75% of the minimum required investment funds) before you can apply for your visa. This is combined with a detailed business plan and 5 year financial forecasts which are independently reviewed and approved by a certified CPA.
How long did it take you to receive a visa and what tips do you have for someone trying to get a visa?
The visa process is long and detailed. It took around a year from starting the process to getting our visa. Having an experienced immigration attorney is vital. You need to be organized and planned. Start getting all your documents in place early and make sure you have your funds in place before you begin the process. Also, allow for a buffer because it is inevitable that the process will take longer than you expect and costs will run over.
One of the challenges for new citizens when dealing with landlords is a lack of credit history. I always tell my clients to establish a bank account in the U.S. early in the process to provide proof of funds. What advice do you have to prove credit worthiness?
If you have never lived in the US before you will have no credit history here. We both had excellent credit scores in the UK, but in the US nothing. When you move you are starting from scratch. The best thing to do is to bring your domestic credit score with you. Get as many references both personal and credit before you move. The more the better and the more you can give to landlords as proof of your credit worthiness. Once you have moved to the USA open a bank account as soon as possible and start building your credit again. It takes time, but it is something we have managed to achieve in around a year (it takes time before you can even get rated).
In addition to credit worthiness, landlords want to learn about your concept.
I know in your case the landlord wanted to try your frozen fruit product. This was not possible since you did not have a production kitchen in the U.S. You did provide branded cups and other examples of your branding to the landlord. What suggestions do you have to win over a skeptical landlord?
Being able to offer samples of what you are doing is always the best option. However, remember your landlord may not be your target customer, so that does not always matter. What you need to focus on is to show your landlord that your concept will allow you to pay rent every month, attract customers and give you a profit. If you already have a pre-existing site or business abroad then show them your reviews, social media, your website, pictures of your store and concept. Take them through your business plan and financial forecasts. Find similar concepts which have taken off and explain to the landlord how you aim to capitalize on this type of market and why your concept would attract them.
What criteria did you use to evaluate possible locations and what suggestions do you have for others to determine if a location is good for their concept?
Size, visibility, rental rate and location.
Footfall is particularly hard to measure in Los Angeles. People tend to drive directly to where they need to go.
Size is especially important to consider in the food industry. You need to think carefully about your square foot utilization. If you are a sit down dining restaurant this is particularly important. The cost per square foot in areas like Beverly Hills and Santa Monica are high and it is only your seating area which is covering your costs. Kitchen, storage, etc take up a lot of room. Think carefully about your sizing and what you actually need.
Visibility is obvious, however, think really carefully about it. You have found this great location, but how visible is it. Is it on a corner, is it in the middle of the block, can you see it when driving, can people see it when they walk past, etc. Be honest with yourself and ask other vendors in the area what business is like. Get separate people to go look at the site.
Finally, Location, Location, Location. Location makes all the difference. Always go for the best location which attracts your target demographic.
You are my favorite type of client. You both were very active in the site selection process .
Many of the sites we considered you found online or researching different neighborhoods. Once you found something that looked promising, I would gather the details, we would discuss and start negotiations if the sites met your criteria. Many tenants think they can access everything online and they don’t need representation. I agree that you can access 80% of the available properties on your own. How did working with a broker help you through the process?
A good broker we think acts more like a mentor. The internet has made it easier to find available locations. However, working with a broker gives your access to someone who has experience in seeing different food concepts and how they are applied to different sites. We had our broker, Mark, who was a great sounding board and brought things to our attention that perhaps we wouldn’t otherwise have thought of. Having Mark as our broker helped us immensely through the process.
You have a very small store.
How did you determine what size space you needed for your business and what suggestions do you have for others to determine how much space they need. If you had to do it over would you consult with a kitchen designer first to determine what equipment you need and the ideal kitchen layout?
Our food concept is “fresh & fast” and “grab and go”. We offer a streamlined menu and a simple product offering. When selecting space size we wanted something small and compact. We didn’t want to be paying for extra space which we did not need. Before you start a restaurant you need to understand your size needs. A good way to understand this is to calculate your sales per sq ft. Our goal was maximum size utilization and sales per square foot. For seating restaurants this is particular important because your sales are limited by your covers which are limited by your table and chair area. Remember kitchen space or storage contributes no sales.
Now let’s dive into the details. First, I want to commend you for doing everything right. You both have a legal background and are more capable to negotiate a lease than 99% of first time restaurant operators.
In addition to working with a restaurant real estate advisor to negotiate the deal, you retained an experienced attorney that specialized in commercial lease agreements. I wanted to mention this because I see so many tenants get into trouble trying to save a few thousand dollars on proper legal representation.
Although you did everything right, you still ran into some issues getting the store opened on schedule.
Let’s discuss lease terms. We negotiated hard for certain lease terms, but in the end may not have achieved the exact terms we wanted for certain items. Rent Commencement was one of the terms. Let’s discuss why this is so important and how you were impacted or might have been impacted by permitting delays.
Rent Commencement is vital. It is also one of the harder clauses to negotiate for because you cannot account for what delays you are going to be facing. Rent Commencement serves to resolve Landlords’ concerns that: (1) you will be able to get all your permits and actually start your business; and (2) that they can start collecting their rent by a defined date. If you get your Rent Commencement wrong you may be faced with having to pay rent before you open. From this perspective, being able to have as much of an understanding of your build out and permit timings is essential to a tenant’s negotiating position. Unfortunately, permit and build out times are very uncertain, especially in Los Angeles.
Landlords and lawyers will often try to complicate the Rent Commencement language to the point where the parties are happy, but in reality the clause makes no sense when you try to apply it. Language becomes confused with start dates, end dates, contingent time periods and what ifs subjected to permits.
The key to rent commencement is to keep it as simple as possible. Set a hard and fast date for when rent will commencement. Don’t subject it to approvals or permits. This will only confuse matters and put you at conflict with your landlord when there are delays.
Whatever the clause says, keep your landlord updated and involved in the timelines. If there are delays outside of your control let them know why and explain why this is not your fault. Landlords most of the time want to know they are not going to be left with a half completed project and that they will be paid rent, even if it is a bit later.
If your landlord does not agree to this, then build into your contract clauses which allow for both parties to agree to a nominal rent for the period that you have not opened and the rent commencement has already passed.
Whatever you do, keep the clause simple!
I agree your clause was confusing. If your rent commencement date is calculated based on clear dates and milestones you can avoid the confusion and still protect yourself. For example, rent shall commence 90 days from receipt of approved plans to start construction, but in no event later than December 31, 2017.
Let’s discuss your experience with the permitting process.
The permit process will be the single biggest challenge you face. We planned on a 3 month build out. It took 10 months! This is because of delays and having to deal with two separate bodies for zoning/planning (Santa Monica) and separately for health department (LA County). Our plan checkers changed jobs during the process which meant we had to start fresh with a new planner. We had to have separate inspections for plumbing and to show that we were not cooking any hot foods so didn’t need grease traps or vents.
An architect or plan expeditor is essential to making this process as smooth as possible. However, you need to become familiar with the rules and regulations yourself. Understand what the requirements are and be as involved in the process as possible. Being able to speak directly to a plan checker or inspector yourself and being involved in the process means you have more control and knowledge.
Take a ways.
Don’t underestimate the time needed find a location, negotiate a lease or purchase and permit and build your restaurant.
Be prepared with business plan, financial statements and proof of funds.
Work with specialists that can guide you through site selection, lease negotiations, permitting and construction.
Have a clear understanding of the infrastructure and city requirements for your concept including how much space you need for back of the house operations, storage and selling square footage.
Get a few opinions regarding visibility, access and convenience for the sites you are considering.
Michael Philippou & Victoria Philippou are the Co-Founders of Frozen Fruit Co. Frozen Fruit Co makes FroFru, a revolutionary vegan friendly soft serve made just from fruit and natural fruit sugars. That’s It. That’s FroFru. Find them at 729 Montana Ave, Ste 2, Santa Monica, 90403, online at www.frozenfruitco.com or order online in the Los Angeles area through GrubHub, Postmates or Doordash.
Making the decision that your restaurant is ready for a POS system can be a hard enough call to make. Add the additional pressure of having to choose the actual system, and it’s no wonder you clicked on this headline. Though not an easy task, deciding which restaurant POS system to implement at your business is one of the most important decisions you will make over the lifetime of your restaurant. Choosing a quality system will not only allow you to quickly and efficiently accept transactions at the point of sale, but it will also improve inventory management, enhance customer marketing, and provider access to sales performance insights for your business.
But since you’ve already made the decision to invest in the future of your business with a POS system, let’s take a few moments to discuss where you go from here.
Decide what your restaurant needs.
It’s easy to know what you don’t want as a restaurateur. You know you’re not looking for expensive, outdated, or complicated. But often, knowing the features and capabilities that your business needs isn’t so straightforward. Since choosing a restaurant POS system is vital to the success and longevity of your business, taking the time to observe and understand the features your business needs is imperative. That’s why it’s important to take the time you need to reacquaint yourself with your business. If you’re the decision maker, but not necessarily the person out on the floor taking orders day in and day out, talk to your servers and manager and find out what they need to make their lives easier. You might go into the conversation thinking that your employees already have all they need to take orders and successfully serve up impeccable customer service. And that might be the case. But you might also leave the conversation realizing that there are restaurant POS features that your staff desperately needs. Either way, you’ll learn more about your business and will be able to make a more informed decision.
Do your research and narrow the field.
Just as no two people are the same, so goes the world of small businesses and restaurants. As nice as it would be to be able to check off half a dozen boxes and then have a POS system handed to you, unfortunately, that’s just not how it works. The good news, however, is that you aren’t alone. According to a recent study, 72 percent of single-location restaurant owners are currently looking to adopt a restaurant POS system for their business. What that means is that though no two businesses are alike, there are a ton of POS-related resources at your disposal to help ease the burden of this decision.
As we recommend above, knowing what your business needs and then doing the research to see what systems can fill those needs is a crucial step in choosing a provider. Though cloud-based POS systems are relatively new to the restaurant industry (within the last decade or so), their popularity has taken off in recent years. That means that there are more than enough options out there for each business to find their match.
Talk to those who have been in your shoes.
In the process of vetting potential restaurant POS systems for your business, you’ll most likely talk to POS specialists from each provider. But in addition to chatting with those from the actual company, you’ll also want to speak with restaurateurs that have firsthand experience with both the software and hardware. This is also a good way to test out the integrity of the company you potentially might work with. Ask the POS provider in question to give you a list of similar businesses or restaurants for you to reach out to and interview about their experience. If the POS provider can’t come up with a list, say one isn’t available or are hesitant in any way, this is a definite red flag. A quality POS system should want to share the positive experiences of other restaurateurs with you, should easily be able to direct you to case studies on their website, and should be forthcoming with any information you request from them.
Whether you are a first-time restaurateur opening your inaugural restaurant, or a seasoned entrepreneur expanding your empire, choosing a restaurant POS system will not be an easy call. Taking the time, however, to evaluate your business, discuss your needs with your staff, and research the systems available to you, will set you up with a strong foundation for making an educated decision.
About the Author
Sara Sugar is ShopKeep point of sale’s in-house Content Marketing Specialist. Sara uses her distinguished journalism background to boil down topics like POS system technology, payments, and payment security for small business owners.
Everything ShopKeep does supports growing and independent businesses. Founded by a successful business owner, ShopKeep provides an intuitive, secure, iPad point-of-sale system with POS software that empowers merchants to run smarter businesses by optimizing staffing, regulating inventory and accessing sales reports and customer information on one seamless, cloud-based platform. With more than 23,000 customers, ShopKeep’s award-winning customer care team is available to help 24/7 and provide a robust support network for growing business owners. A member of Apple’s Mobile Partnership Program, ShopKeep is headquartered in New York, with offices in Portland, Chicago, Washington, D.C. and Belfast.
More often than never people get tired of the same old looks of the places they go to eat, grab some drinks or listen to gigs. Owning a restaurant is a big responsibility, especially the part where you have to learn to listen to your guts and realize when is the right time for a change.
If you are looking to make a change to your restaurants interior you’ve come to the right place. Scroll through to learn simple tips and tricks that will help you with a successful restaurant remodel and give it a fresh new look.
Listen to suggestions and comments, gather opinions
The best way to start the whole renovation process is to find out what your customers have to say because they are the most valuable resource of information. Ask for their opinion and gather information through social media. It will help you improve the interior in the most functional way.
Pay attention to comments regarding the atmosphere in the restaurant because if you like something it doesn’t mean that everybody else does too. Some people, for example, don’t feel comfortable eating in the dim light, or if the color of the walls is just too much (as in all walls painted royal blue). Make small notes, compare and contrast opinions, include family and friends and think about the way to intertwine and include most of the suggestions during the renovation.
Also, you can request some feedback through comment cards, email campaigns, suggestion boxes, etc. to learn about your customers’ thoughts of your restaurants interior.
If you’re all about the rustic meets vintage look and you want your restaurant to keep that shabby interior style, then simply let the floors get weathered and worn out naturally. That is the only exception (when it comes to the look of the floors) that is acceptable in a restaurant. In any other case, you should replace worn out flooring every couple of years and pay attention to the maintenance so that they keep that fresh, new look for as long as it is possible. Choose materials that are low maintenance and patterned/textured to hide the accidental spills and stains easier. Choose natural cleft slate or acrylic-infused engineered hardwood floors that are long-lasting and suit almost every interior design.
Install various lights to achieve the perfect atmosphere
One of the essential elements that create a specific vibe in a restaurant that attracts more customers is proper lighting. You should always do your lighting installation in layers so that you have more control of the light in different parts of a day. Invest in quality curtains, awnings, and blinds to keep the atmosphere intimate and hidden away from the curious eyes.
Australian based interior designers explain that commercial blinds in Sydney gain popularity in the past couple of years and that nowadays it is almost unimaginable to design the interior of any commercial building without installing blinds, curtains or awnings since they help create the atmosphere.
Play with various lights – spot lights and floor lights to define the space, hang pendants above tables for more intimate atmosphere, use accent lights to highlight artworks, the bar or anything you want to emphasize. Make sure that you can control the brightness of each light so that you can create a just perfect atmosphere in the restaurant.
Give your exterior a fresh new look
Refresh the exterior to make your restaurant more noticeable and appealing. The exterior is the first thing that actually attracts guests and the first thing that will draw them to enter and try out something new. That first impression is what leaves a lasting impact and it affects the way people perceive your brand. That is why you want the exterior to represent your restaurant and the quality of food and service – to look fresh, new and compatible with the updated interior.
The color of the facade is very important. You want something that will make your restaurant stand out among many others and yet nothing too extravagant or eccentric. The color should increase your brand recognition so choose wisely and avoid repainting the facade very often because it will make customers confused. Match the color of the exterior with your brand color or the dominant color from the indoors. You should avoid coloring the complete facade in one shade, it is better to add simple colorful details or intertwine brand colors using same shade chairs, tables, decorative items or flowers, etc.).
At the end
Follow these simple tips and tricks to make a perfect plan for the renovation process. Keep in mind that it is important to gather the opinions, suggestions, critics, comments and build your plan from there. Consult with experts when it comes to light installation, the functionality of layout, and all the other setups to find the most functional way to renovate the place.
Hannah Thomas is an expert in business innovation and management with a love for writing. She is always eager to learn new things and to share the knowledge she acquired along the way.
Is it any wonder then that over 90,000 Groupon deals are sold on a daily basis? When times are tough, people are loath to cut back on the little luxuries that make life a lot more fun. After all, if you are working just to pay off bills, it is not all that interesting, is it?
But what if those luxuries got a little easier to afford? Like the facial that you could get at 50% off, for example? Or the buy one get one free deal at your favorite restaurant?
Here’s a fun fact for you – Groupon users have eaten close to 60 million pieces of pizza in total. Want some more interesting facts? Check out the great infographic below.
It works well for the businesses advertising on the service as well. They get access to a wide range of customers at a relatively reasonable cost. They are required to offer a substantial discount – at least 40% or more – and they have to give Groupon a cut.
However, if you consider the cost of print media and other forms of advertising, it is a small price to pay. And, a certain number of deals must be sold for it to go through, so you know that it will be shared.
Best of all for the business, though, is that it is only paying for results. If no one buys the deal, it doesn’t pay a cent. In fact, until someone comes in to redeem voucher, it does not have to do anything more.
It’s a win-win for businesses and clients.
Karthik Reddy, Community Manager at Webmastersjury, is the author of India’s Number 1 travel blog. Boasting an MBA in computer science, he once decided to get away from the office desk life and take a breathtaking journey around the world. He is eager to use the power of the global network to inspire others. A passionate traveler and photography enthusiast, he aspires to share his experiences and help people see the world through his lens.
Go to any eatery across the nation, and there’s a fair chance that you’ll be presented with a loyalty program. They’re getting more and more popular, but is it what your business needs in order to grow? There are a few different threads we need to unpick here as no two eateries are the same. Clientele, branding, and style of food all need to be addressed.
Can you make a program that’s consistent with your brand?
That is perhaps the most critical question to ask when you start thinking about trying something new. If you try to use a loyalty program, make sure that it integrates into your restaurant pos or else it may cause more customer confusion than loyalty. At the end of the day, it’s all about getting to know your customers and what they expect from you. Not everyone will see the value in discounts, and for some, it will be a definite turn off. The secret is knowing how to find the right balance…
Knowing what your customers really want
Any customer loyalty program needs to be hassle-free and easy to use; if it’s not then, you won’t get much engagement. Put yourself in the minds of your customers and ask yourself why they’re coming to you. If you offer a 5-course menu and you’re booked up for weeks, then people won’t expect or want discounts. They’re paying good money to come and dine with you, and they’re proud that they’re able to do so.
If, however you get a lot more transient business on the day and are in competition with similar eateries then a closer look will be in order. You need something that allows you to stand apart from the competition, but for all the right reasons. Don’t offer the whole world for a dollar; otherwise, you run the risk of cheapening your brand and losing credibility. Keep your offerings, simple, fun, relevant, and wherever possible seasonal. That way you’ll be able to strike the right balance all year round.
You need to decide on the core goals of your program
Of course, every program is designed to boost business, but saying that just won’t be enough. Sit down and focus on how you want to do it. Do you want a one-time surge of customers with a very high discount? Or do you want a hook that has people coming over and over again? The second one is clearly the more sustainable and long-term solution. It should see your sales grow organically rather than spike, and then drop off as you struggle to meet demand.
Decide how you’re going to track loyalty and engagement
Creating a loyalty program is an iterative process, just like any other aspect of your business. That means that while you want to implement something great on day one, being open to change is vital to your success. Create a way of tracking engagement that is in keeping with your brand, and you’ll be able to zero in on what works best for your business.
Vania Silva is a lifelong lover of food (especially Portuguese)! She enjoys helping restaurants succeed & has been published in various restaurant industry publications such as Upserve’s Restaurant Insider.