“A brand is no longer what we tell the customer it is. It is what customers tell each other it is.” -Scott Cook
Anyone can offer food. You can buy food at countless restaurants and fast food joints down almost every street in every city. You can get food at grocery stores, markets, and even gas stations. Food is everywhere. So when you want to open or operate a restaurant, what makes your offering special?
1. People are willing to pay more for an experience.
Unless you’re offering a “quantity over quality” experience, your prices need to reflect the kind of experience your patrons should expect. Don’t apologize for the higher cost of a plate; it represents more than just the cost of the food being provided. Most people can easily see the difference between snagging a pre-made sandwich off the shelf at a local convenience store and being served a 5-course meal, and are willing to pay for the difference.
2. Make the building noticeable.
If people come into your restaurant and take pictures that they can post on their social media accounts, it is free advertising for you. Better than that, though, is that it shows people are enjoying your atmosphere and the ambiance that your building represents. Paint the walls, add lights, add plants, add decorations – offer a theme that is eye-catching or memorable.
3. Make it unusual.
In whatever way you do it, each meal has to be unique. Whether you use a special ingredient, serve the meal backwards, open at an unusual time, or change up how food is served, make it your own. New and exciting ways of doing things draw attention, and attention brings in customers. People will hear about the unusual things you’re doing and their interest will be piqued. If you do it well enough, in fact, people will again be posting pictures on their social media accounts and offering that free advertising.
4. Don’t copy others.
There is a temptation to see what’s successful around you and try to duplicate it, since there is a proven track record of demand. But unless you make it different, no one is going to care if you open another pizza joint, or another burger joint. Make a new style of burger. Make it taste better. Make it look different. Make it unusual. Change it up.
5. Make it about more than the food.
Food is great, but as we mentioned before, it’s available almost anywhere. Offer a cultural experience that accurately reflects whatever culture you’re trying to represent. Include real people, background, and history. Offer a story to your patrons, and that is worth more than the meal. They will keep coming back to enjoy the immersive experience.