Business Building Ideas for Restaurants to Try in 2014

In order to stay ahead in the restaurant business, operators have to be constantly on the lookout for new ways to build and strengthen their businesses. Creativity, flexibility and the willingness to try new things goes a long way in this industry. Here are a few business building ideas to put to use for your restaurant business in 2014.

Put All Our New Technology to Work In Your Restaurant

The restaurant industry is particularly well suited to benefit from the various new forms of technology that have arisen over the last several years. From smartphones, to tablets, to video menu boards, we now have the ability to instantly communicate with and engage our customers at a level that was never before possible. Although the success of marketing campaigns done through social media, email and text varies dramatically from business to business, there’s no doubt about it’s potential power in driving traffic, increasing sales and building loyalty. Nearly 75% of fine and casual dining operators say they plan to devote more resources to these arenas in 2014, with 60% of family dining operators saying the same thing. In all but quick-service, operators feel the next likely marketing and reputation tool will be online review sites; quick-service is favoring Twitter, smartphone apps and texting.

Building your digitally connected community of customers has an added benefit aside from just being a loyalty and brand awareness building strategy. You can also offer your customers discounts during off-peak hours as a way of getting incremental visits from your customer base. Roughly 25% of family and casual dining, and 36% of fine dining operators, are already offering this form of variable menu pricing. The lion’s share in table service believes this will be increasingly popular in the future. As discussed in a previous post, the demand is certainly there.

Look for Opportunities to Expand Your Restaurant’s Off-Premise Presence

Another business building opportunity lies in off-premise marketing. Some 56% of consumers say they would likely order delivery direct to their home or office if the option was available. Another 46% said they would use a curbside takeout from a table service restaurant. Even food trucks could represent a lucrative opportunity—70% of customers said they’d definitely be interested in visiting one if their favorite restaurant offered it. Taking your restaurant off-premise also has the added benefit of increasing your overall brand awareness.

Tap into Restaurant Retail, Travel and Tourism

Travel and tourism is another opportunity area that restaurants can take advantage of. This year stands to be a good year for the industry. International travelers alone are expected to spend over $100 billion on tourism-related goods. Money spent on eating out at restaurants will, of course, be a large percentage of that expenditure.

Restaurant retail is another interesting option to build your business. A number of restaurants have been expanding in this arena over the last few years. About one quarter are currently offering packaged food items for retail sale or have opened a grocery store section.

The take home message is that there are a number of business building opportunities out there for restaurants to take advantage of this year. The key to success lies in the operators’ ability to be creative, flexible and open to opportunity.

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