10 Things Your Competitors Can Teach You About Running a Successful Restaurant

Running a Successful Restaurant

Competition is good. It keeps you on your toes and it keeps you constantly improving. Without it you’ll plateau, because there’s nothing you need to better yourself against. But you don’t just grow because you have competition; you grow because you learn from your competition and react to what they’re doing. That’s learning, and believe us when we say that your competition is a library of information for you to digest.

You should be learning from your competitors because they’re definitely learning from you.

1. Local Delicacies

What is your town known for? Are they proud of their Rhubarb pies? Do they have some of the cleanest meat in the country? Take a second to see what other restaurants are serving in ways of local delicacies and then incorporate that into your menu, but in a way that’s uniquely yours. You want to beat the competition, not be them.

2. Public Outreach

Take a look at photos and info from previous big events in your town, like Independence Day, Halloween, Christmas, and so on. Now take a look at what restaurants in your area did to contribute to these events and do what you can to match and/or outdo them. People love eating at a restaurant that lives with the community, not just within it.

3. Food Preferences

Each community comes with its own tastes. Some towns will prefer heavy sauces while others will take pride in their veggies. By doing a little field research on the restaurants already in business, you can fairly easily pick out what your customers like to eat. This doesn’t mean you should change your menu to include the same foods as them, it just means that you should change some of your recipes around to cater to these specifics. Even adding some additional sides or sauces will be enough.

4. Promotions

If there is an established restaurant in your area, take a look at the kinds of promotions they offer. Chances are that after years of being around they’re sticking to the ones that worked, so work with that and add them to your own repertoire.

5. Trends

Pan through every competitor in your area. Take a look at what they all have in common and then take a look at what makes them all different. Those similarities will most likely be created because of the preferences of the town you live in, and you should get to know those trends very quickly.

6. Social Media

Every restaurant these days is on social media in one way or another. If your competitors aren’t, then you have a great advantage, but if they are then scour their sites. See what they’re doing, how they’re interacting with the community, and then imitate and improve upon it.

7. Seasonal Specifics

This will be especially useful during your first year. Just like Starbucks is known for their Autumnal Pumpkin Spice Lattes, other restaurants in the area will be known for their seasonal menus as well. If people prefer desserts in the Summer, don’t make a spicy hot meal your seasonal gastronomic offering. Your competitors sure aren’t.

8. Advertising

Traditional media isn’t dead, so take a look at what other restaurants are doing in terms of advertising. This isn’t so much about getting your name out there, but rather putting your name in with where they are. You want to be part of the list, and then once you’re on it, pull ahead with a little ingenuity that you’ve brought along with yourself.

9. Their Weaknesses

Most importantly, take a look at what they’re lacking. You have a lifetime of experience with restaurants and what you want, so go eat at a couple of restaurants from the competition pool and write down everything you didn’t like about your experience. Then go to your restaurant and make sure no customers can ever say the same about the experience you provide.

10. Your Weaknesses

All the advice we’ve given you so far will be followed by your competition, so use this fact as a mirror. Check to see what they’re seeing in you and how they’re changing in response to you, and keep an ear to the ground for what others are saying about you. This will be one of your greatest tools in the battles to come.

Competition is both a gauge and an encyclopedia, letting you know everything you need to know about the local area as well as giving you an idea of what you’re lacking in. The information you can get from your competition is invaluable, and you should get really good at collecting it.