Once you’ve done all the legwork involved in creating and executing your branding strategy, it’s time to ask yourself the question: is it working? Here are our top 6 ways to measure the effectiveness of your restaurant branding strategy:
- Guest Feedback via Manager Table Touches and Social Media Reviews: This is the best way to confirm whether your guests “get you.” Are your reviews consistent with your brand strategy? Do the comments regarding the food and service match your expectations? For example, if your desire is to take your guests on a culinary tour of Southern French Cuisine but the comments on social media consistently state that customers couldn’t find anything on the menu that they wanted to eat, nor liked, you may have a branding issue. If customers simply don’t “get” your brand, you won’t be able to put butts in seats. Case and point – A 2017 article by Foodbeast found that “a half-star difference on a Yelp review rating can swing restaurant business by a whopping 27%.”
- Does your Shirt match your Pants? We see this all the time with rebranded or poorly remodeled restaurants. Owners place their entire focus on one aspect of the restaurant – typically the menu – and forget that they purchased a former corporate breakfast spot with a unique sign structure that city code wouldn’t let them modify. Then they wonder why every guest that comes into the restaurant complains because they couldn’t get a Moons over My Hammy. You need to make certain that you pull a Men in Black and make your guests completely forget about the previous restaurant.
- Cohesive Promotions: When a new restaurant struggles to place butts in seats they typically start creating a myriad of promotions such as: Half price wine night on Monday; happy hour from 4pm – 6pm and then 10am – 2pm on Tuesday through Thursday; Karaoke every other Friday and Kids eat free on Sunday. WHEW. That’s a lot to chew on, and what results is a promotion schedule that makes your brand look like a crazed Rorschach Test. In a recent article by Toast, it was noted that “51% of diners go out to eat more than once a week.” Now imagine those 51% of diners searching for a simple Monday night restaurant but because your brand is trying to appeal to everyone, they can’t figure out who you are so they decide “nope, not for me.” The end result of your promo madness takes the opposite effect you were hoping for which could end up losing you potential customers. Stay true to your brand, pick one promotion that works with your brand and stick to it! Check out Hotelmarketer.com’s Restaurant Marketing Basics below:
- Are you drowning in a teaspoon of water? On the heels of Cohesive Promotions, we see operators who use discounting as a way to create “value” for their guests. What results is that the guests have discounted view of the brand. Groupon is the pinnacle example. Once Groupon has been introduced as part of the culture – it’s virtually impossible to build back value in the brand; guests looking for a deal simply don’t return when the deal no longer exists. The result is that the restaurant may have a full dining room, however guests will be paying roughly half the price and the will only remember the discount they received and not the brand. Referred guests will now have the wrong expectation of the business when they don’t receive the same “deal.” Side note: Due to the slim margins of the hospitality industry – the chances of bankruptcy also increase dramatically.
- Clear Vision + Staff Education: Clear Vision + Staff Education = Consistent Guest Experience. Clear vision starts with preparation on the part of ownership. This is more than a business plan. It’s a virtual walkthrough of your dream vetting each physical space of the business against its impact on the Guest, Team and Profitability of the dream, answering the questions:
- Do each of the pieces tie together?
- Is there a seamless flow between the Entry and the back Door?
- Do my uniforms, printed menus, kids menus, china, glass silverware, paint colors, entry mats, host stand, promotions, menu items, cocktail, beer, liquor, wine, team standards, pricing, landscaping, hours of operation all work together?
You can always tell when a restaurant has no identity. Just watch the staff for 10 minutes. Typically, they are completely disengaged. You can spot them huddled by the service well when there’s an inpouring of guests whom haven’t been greeted and one host scrambling around with a plastered-on smile like they just got off the Ferris Wheel at Mr. Fun Time’s traveling Circus. Or it’s the opposite reality – expressionless, highly efficient drones working each guest as if they just piled off a cruise ship. They have thirty minutes to get em’ in and get em’ out. Each situation serves to damage the guest experience as well as team member satisfaction. Education creates ownership and accountability – without it, you have no chance of reaching every guest properly or consistently. Look at it this way. If you have 10 BOH and 10 FOH team members who don’t buy into or understand your vision and they are working 15 hours a day, you have zero chance of 1-2 managers trying to do anything else except mitigate the amount of damage inflicted upon the guest. You cannot spend enough time educating your team and engaging them by asking for their feedback. Education doesn’t have to be a one-way street. It is most certainly a dynamic process where ideas are brought forward and validated through consistent experiences between the team and the guest.
- Time and Execution: You’ve heard the phrase that to become an expert at anything you need to put in 10,000 hours of practice. Branding strategies take Time to execute properly. You cannot develop consistency without putting in the time necessary. Operators almost always make knee jerk decisions when they haven’t included the time necessary to allow for consistency. The other reason that operators make knee jerk decisions, they fail to set specific and measurable results. Without specific and measurable results, the success of a branding strategy is subject to personal interpretation. Usually that person is the owner/operator and their interpretation is often riddled with bias. Create specific, measurable results. Review your Key indicators weekly: Examples of KPI’s Include: Guest counts, guest check average, social media reviews and of course your budget vs actual financial statement. Doing so will enable the business to “check in” and make timely adjustments vs preparing for a collision.