Know your target market. Your target market is not the people you WANT to buy your food, but rather the ones MOST LIKELY to buy your food. A big red flag in any marketing plan is an assumption that your concept appeals to everyone.Don’t:
Have a large menu. Large menus confuse your concept, increase ticket times, decrease table turns, increase waste, make server training harder, and overall just make you lose money. You can’t be all things to all people. If you try, you’ll be very little to very few.Do:
Have an exit strategy. Knowing how you’re getting out of this venture if things don’t go right is more important than knowing how to get into it. What happens with your lease if your concept fails? Do you have provisions that protect you in case of road construction, building construction, or other cicumstances beyond your control?
Think if you “build it they will come”. Every new restaurateur thinks their food and product is so interesting and unique that people will flock to their restaurant just because they opened it.
Have a marketing plan. Word of mouth marketing only works if a lot of people already know about your business. You can’t depend on word of mouth for a startup. Marketing a startup takes money and a plan on how best to utilize that money to get people in your door, so you can build relationships and earn their referrals to their friends.
Sign a contract without having it reviewed by legal counsel, whether it’s for a lease, a partnership, or a vendor.
Create a unique selling point. Form an emotional bond with your customers by promising to make them FEEL something, then delivering on that promise. The memory of how you made someone feel with your restaurant will last long after they forget who served them and what they ate. “Good/great food and service” are NOT unique selling points. Every restaurant claims to have these. The emotion that you promise and deliver to your customers IS a unique selling point. Other restaurants will not have this.
Don’t: Try to open a second restaurant in the same market (with the same name). You’ll dilute the “something special-ness” of your restaurant.
Do: Keep marketing even when things are “up”. Collect your customers’ contact information, so you can keep them “in the family”.
Related article: http://www.manygoodideas.com/2007/09/01/what-would-you-do/
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