FUNDAMENTAL RESTAURANT MARKETING

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You want to create a loyal customer base because these people will tell all their friends about your restaurant and bring them in to eat. Customers are often the best marketers for a business because they love what you do so much that they want to share it with others.

Fundamental Restaurant Marketing
By Gary Occhiogrosso – Managing Partner,Franchise Growth Solutions.

Introduction
Restaurant marketing is a topic often in business classes and career fairs. It’s a common question: “How do you market your restaurant?” The answer to this question can be pretty straightforward, but the process can be challenging. To make sure that your restaurant can attract new customers and keep them coming back, it’s essential that you have an effective plan for promoting your business.

The most successful restaurants are the best marketers.
To be one of those restaurants, you must learn about marketing. Marketing is not a one-time thing. It’s an ongoing process that must be done on a regular and scheduled basis if you want your business to succeed.
The first step in effective marketing is understanding what it’s not: it’s not advertising alone; instead, it’s everything you do to connect with your customers and get them talking about their experiences with your brand. For example, marketing could include social media posts on Facebook or Twitter (that are funny/cute/interesting enough), sharing photos of how great everything looks on Instagram (including food shots), posting videos explaining how something works on YouTube (like how a new dish gets made), offering special promotions such as “buy one entrée at regular price and get another free.
Social media is great for getting the word out about your restaurant. You can use social media to promote your restaurant and get customers to come in, or you can also use social media to get feedback from your customers.

Make sure that every employee is a marketer for your restaurant.
They may not be able to explain the nuance of the menu, but they can tell people about themselves and their experience at your establishment.If you have a host or waitperson, they can talk about how they enjoy working there because it’s such a nice place. If someone asks them if there are any vegan options on the menu or if one of your dishes can be made gluten-free, they can tell them about it without sounding like an advertisement (although most people in this situation probably won’t care).

Make your restaurant an active community member.
As you create your restaurant, it’s important to consider how you want to be perceived in the community. Do you want to be the new hot spot for a specific type of person? Or are you aiming for a more diverse crowd? Will your restaurant have an identity as a family-friendly place or something more upscale and exclusive? The answer will help determine some of the best marketing strategies for you. For example, if you’re looking to attract families with young kids, consider sponsoring local youth sports teams or offering free food at community events like Little League games and PTA meetings. On the other hand, if your target clientele is more on the younger end (say college students), sponsoring an art gallery opening might be right up your alley!
Regardless of who makes up your ideal demographic, make sure they know where they can find good food in town—and make sure those other businesses know about yours too!

Engage with your customers through social media and online reviews.
Social media can be a great way to engage with your customers and hear what they say. In addition, you can use social media as a platform for interacting with other businesses in the community.
Here are some tips for responding to what your customers are saying online:
* Respond quickly if someone has posted an unfavorable review of your restaurant on Facebook or Yelp. Be sure to thank them for their feedback and explain how you will use it to improve the experience in future visits.
* Respond quickly if someone has posted a positive review about their visit to your restaurant – especially if there’s an opportunity for follow-up questions or inquiries about the experience (i.e., “What was your favorite dish?”). Use this opportunity to connect with customers who’ve enjoyed their visit!
*Listen to your customers’ feedback online and in person.
* Respond to customers’ comments.
* Be transparent with your customers.
* Be honest, even if it’s difficult for you or the company, because honesty is the best policy for maintaining a good reputation as a business that cares about its community and its employees.

You may not always agree with every comment made by every customer. Still, it’s vital that you engage in conversations where both parties are listening respectfully instead of arguing back and forth about what is right or wrong.

Creating a loyal customer base is a great way to grow your business.
You want to create a loyal customer base because these people will tell all their friends about your restaurant and bring them in to eat. Customers are often the best marketers for a business because they love what you do so much that they want to share it with others. The more loyal customers you have, the more people will want to come to your restaurant and spend money on food and drinks there—and that’s good news for your bottom line! If you keep giving them what they want (like delicious food at affordable prices), those same loyal customers will keep coming back again and again—and bringing friends along with them.
The key here is ensuring those loyal customers feel appreciated by rewarding them with something special now and then—like free meals or exclusive coupons only available through their email address or phone number.

Conclusion
As you can see, restaurant marketing is more than just putting up a few ads and hoping for the best. It would be best if you were willing to invest in your business, ask for customer feedback, and engage with them online. The most successful restaurants are the ones that put their heart and soul into their marketing efforts.

How to Achieve A Competitive Advantage With The Help of Key Customers and Suppliers

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The greatest barrier to successful collaboration is the conventional mindset of a combative relationship with suppliers. Negotiations are perceived as a zero-sum margin tug-of-war, with the relative power balance determining the result.

Achieving Competitive Advantage through Collaboration with Key Customers and Suppliers
By: Don Johnston

An Evolving Operational Focus
In the past when companies pondered corporate strategy, operations had been peripheral to the discussion. Operations were considered a technical matter with one way of doing things and therefore not, strategic. Strategy is about products, markets, and competitive advantage with divergent possibilities.

Operations were seen as a series of puzzles with single best solutions. The realization that optimization of parts did not optimize the whole led to new focus – operational management went up a level from looking at individual tasks to looking at whole processes. During the 1960s, Japanese manufactures obtained competitive advantage by optimizing operational efficiency, which meant lower prices, flexible production capabilities and a reduction in lead times. Operational considerations became a key theme in strategic discussions.

During the 1990s, companies like Dell took this further. The computer market was changing faster than any other market had done in history. Dell began managing operations by synchronizing functional activity into a single corporate heartbeat. An order instantly drove procurement, which drove production and then distribution. The result was a further drop in lead times, inventory requirements, and operating costs along with flexibility. Operational efficiency was Dell’s sole source of competitive advantage and it reaped enormous market share gains.

Collaboration – The Next Step
The historical trend is clear. The impact that one activity has on the next means they cannot be optimized in isolation. The result is that operations have become the key corporate strategic consideration. Yet the nature of competitive advantage is to elapse as competitors replicate it, which places a continual onus on companies to find new differentials. This begs the question – what next?

The answer lies in another step up in the way we view corporate operation. We need to look beyond the borders of the firm in our search for operational efficiency. Optimized company operations can only be achieved through alignment and coordination with the agents up and down stream. Collaboration with suppliers and customers is the essential vehicle of the 21st century for achieving competitive advantage from operations.

The benefits of Collaboration

1. Sharing demand signals
The first step to collaboration comes through information sharing. Across nearly all industries, companies play a guessing game (called forecasting) to estimate the products and quantities that their customers will demand across different markets. Even if a company gets it just right it still needs large inventory buffers to cope with demand variability, thus dramatically reducing its capital efficiency. It is imperative to compress lead times to meet demand rapidly and lessen these negative effects – this can negate the production-cost benefits of today’s off-shoring vogue in China. The butterfly’s wing effect on forecasting and ordering means the end demand signal gets wildly distorted as it echoes up the supply chain being reinterpreted and exaggerated at each turn. Inaccuracies are amplified at each stage, leaving suppliers facing high-stake production gambles.

The answer is simple – relaying end user demand signals and likely future order quantities to suppliers up the chain. This is the single biggest benefit of collaboration and it comes at virtually no cost reducing much of the variability from the forecasting calculation. A supplier’s response will be a much closer fit to market demand if information about likely order quantities is shared. Typically, inventory levels can be reduced by two thirds, service levels sky-rocket while lost revenues evaporate, and supply costs are cut by a quarter when demand information sharing is implemented correctly.

2. Efficiency through alignment
The next step is operational coordination. Working capital naturally collects at the borders of the firm. Finished Goods nearly always account for much more inventory than Work in Process, mainly because of the typical inadequacy in coordination between supply chain entities. Accounts receivable tend to be swelled by disputes and billing problems, which would be ironed out instantly if they were internal issues. Most companies currently allow working capital to accumulate at the point where their processes meet those of their customers and suppliers, which provides a great opportunity for freed cash flow and increased capital efficiency.

Costs can also be reduced dramatically through simple operational coordination between suppliers and customers. Systems, processes, and organizations can be joined up much more effectively to eliminate unnecessary duplication and increase the through-put and flexibility of both supplier and customer organizations.

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The interfaces of goods delivery/goods-receipt, invoicing/invoice-processing and collection/payment all exhibit the same misalignment and duplication. The painstaking effort spent on internal efficiency is negated by a clumsy operational weld between suppliers and customers. Functions get managed to performance metrics, which encourage activity that runs, counter to the efficiency of the organization, let alone the total supply mechanism. Firms should optimise their impact on their key customers’ total cost of supply. Configuring and managing the organization to better align with key customers and suppliers facilitates a more fluid transfer of goods, cash and information up and down the supply chain. This provides a win/win of capital and cost reduction at the same time as enhanced revenue levers for all organizations involved.

3. Joint exploration of strategic options
The final step is a strategic coordination-unlocking new market development and product development possibilities based on co-exploring avenues to competitive advantage. This is only attainable once trust has been built through information share and some steps in operational integration. With the foundation of operational collaboration set, customers and suppliers can combine in entering new markets, coordinated off-shoring and shared selected R&D to explore exciting product development opportunities and condense launch times.

Overcoming the Zero Sum Mindset
The greatest barrier to successful collaboration is the conventional mindset of a combative relationship with suppliers. Negotiations are perceived as a zero-sum margin tug-of-war, with the relative power balance determining the result. This precludes a focus on win-win value driving activity. Suppliers and customers end up perpetually wasting and reworking because they see opening a constructive dialogue as weakness or even as surrender. Many executives fear a loss of flexibility through higher switching costs from greater collaboration. The truth is that most firms’ key supplier base has not changed dramatically over the last 2 years, so collaborative activity would have been massively beneficial as the payback period can be. Still, this does not irreversibly affix firms together – competitive pressures still work to drive down prices and provide the incentive to offer the best value.

Another fear is that companies would give away their competitive advantage to customers or suppliers if they collaborate. The reality is that core competencies do not vanish through sharing demand information, or through bridging operational rifts. The reason that there are few truly vertically integrated industries is testament to this – core competencies dilute and effective organization is impossible over too lengthy a chain. Such anxiety may be unfounded, but the fear is real and debilitating. This is why companies should commit progressively and in parallel, reaching a point acceptable to both parties; from information share, to operational alignment, through to symbiotic strategic planning. As a further development, (depending on the concentration of the end user markets for a product), a company can then extend its collaborative relationships further up and down the supply chain to suppliers’ suppliers, customers’ customers and beyond.

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As with preceding operational evolutions, collaboration will doubtless be pioneered by some companies and shunned by others. Far from the micro/technical operational thinking of the past, collaboration offers a strategic perspective, divergent options and colossal profit, and capital efficiency benefits. Until it becomes universally adopted, collaboration is the most promising source of competitive advantage from operations available today.

Author Bio
Don Johnston is a consultant with the REL Consultancy Group www.relconsult.com – REL’s financial consulting services are all about generating improvements in cashflow. As experts in working capital management REL has been associated with some of the world’s most successful companies for over 30 years, focusing on all of the three key areas of payables, receivables, and inventory.

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