Is Your Restaurant Brand Telling a Memorable Story?

Nearly everything you encounter in life has a story to tell.

That saved concert ticket, that photo of your grandparents, and even that person sitting near you at the coffee shop – all have a unique & memorable story. Your restaurant should be no different.

The truth is, restaurant brands relying on worn-out keywords such as "locally-sourced" and "hand-crafted" to tell a ‘story’ must learn that this is simply not enough anymore (nor should it have been relied on as a strategy in the first place).

These phrases have become ‘cliché’ in this over-saturated industry...welcome to 2019!

Restaurants must now make their story meaningful, personal, emotional, simple, and authentic.

Despite the word “story,” it isn’t even confined to the written word. Colors, decor, vendors, staff members, plating, glassware, packaging—even the simplest visual segments within your brand ‘messaging’—can paint a picture worth a thousand words.

Your brand story should start however, by first identifying the following:

  • Who you are: How your restaurant came to exist today.

  • What you do: The food, beverage, entertainment, and/or experience you provide.

  • Who you do it for: The people you want to serve within your community.

  • Why you do it: Your larger goal; how it benefits your ideal guest & community.

  • How you do it: Visibility into your food, beverage, and/or experience strategy.

  • Where you are headed: How you are evolving and working to create the best for your guests & staff.

This may sound similar to the questions you need to answer when developing your four core statements; vision, mission, values, and culture.

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This is where it all starts. This is the foundation for your story.

Your curated story needs to grab your ideal guests attention and activate their emotions—and that goes for story-telling across all mediums; including your restaurants interior design, curb appeal, advertising, social media, website, supply chain, training, and service – to name a few.

As humans, when you’re invested in a good story, your brain physically responds to it.

How do you feel your guests are currently responding to your story? I am willing to bet that your guests are no different and crave engaging stories, a dynamic in which your restaurant-guest relationship should be built on trust, mutual respect, and common interests.

They want to connect & interact with you as a brand and to be acknowledged as unique individuals.

And not only will a unique & memorable story improve your relationship, but it will also undoubtedly improve your bottom line.

You can do that by focusing on the following, all of which is in your control:

Architectural Design: You have perfected your statements, brand identity, and the main underlying story you want to tell - now it's time to translate this narrative into compelling visuals.

Restaurant brands and visual presentation go hand-in-hand, it should be no secret. You can have a fantastic brand, but if presented in an unimpressive way, it gets lost in the mix while quickly creating brand confusion. The interior & exterior design of your concept is an opportunity to humanize the story of your brand, creating an experience people want to both interact with and build brand loyalty with.

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Generated Content: Powerful content has a great impact when telling the story of your brand. Invest time in unique image & video content as part of your marketing plan. For example, how will your ‘hand-crafted’ pizza using ‘fresh, local toppings’ stand out from every other pizzeria on social media claiming the same narrative? This is your opportunity to create something meaningful, personal, emotional, simple, and authentic. Get creative and think outside the box. Get your entire team involved in helping tell your unique and memorable story.

Food & Beverage: Taking a multi-sensory approach, your food (plus beverage options) must play on the fact that guests not only take-in pleasure through taste, but also from the positive emotions and memories the flavors may evoke; as taste (gustatory), smell (olfactory), and visual senses are forever interlinked into our memories. When you truly understand your target market, you can extract emotions and personalize the food & beverage experience through the use of effective story-telling. If executed properly, stories can stick in the guest’s mind, much longer than a memory of a bite of food or a glass of wine.

Guest Experiences: Whether you’re a neighborhood bar, a QSR with a strong off-premise program, or if you’re a dine-in restaurant, you must believe that every interaction matters. Train your staff to tell the stories behind your food & beverage. Who created them? How did the dish or drink come to life? Don’t rely on words or a long list of ingredients within the menu. Your team should tell a different, highly engaging story for each food & drink option to ensure guests return at a faster rate to try more of your options, resulting in a beneficial bottom-line.

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Culture Management: Your brand personality and culture are what makes your brand unique. This should be reflected in your restaurant's story through a strong (and human!) brand voice. You should ensure you have culture-focused ‘systems’ in place to make sure stories lived by all staff, from leadership down to entry-level positions are easily shareable. In a true and managed story-telling culture, everyone participates. Everyone has stories that they live and that are worth sharing with your target market. Don’t be scared to make this change in your strategy. It’s time to humanize your brand.

It isn’t a coincidence that brands with a story last longer than the ones without. The power of your brand reflects how well your restaurant's guests resonate with your story and tell their networks about their experience with you – leading to their networks telling their networks, and so-on.

Story-telling can also be the fundamentals of a successful brand ambassador strategy.

While story-telling has been around since the start of mankind, in today’s world, we have at our disposal more tools than ever before to tell our stories. Let’s not waste that opportunity!

How to Define Your Restaurant’s Values and Company Culture

Listen on: iTunes | Google Play | tunein | iHeartRADIO | Spotify

On this episode of The Barron Report, Host Paul Barron speaks with Doug Radkey, strategist, consultant, speaker, author, Foodable contributor and founding partner of Key Restaurant Group. In this Skype interview, the two discuss some of the most influential decisions you will make for your restaurant.

Determining your vision, mission, culture, and value statements means understanding your goals.To be able to state them clearly will set your restaurant or any business up for success.

Radkey defines value as “the regard that something is held to deserve; the importance, worth, or usefulness of something.” For your restaurant or bar, it is a statement that informs not only your customers, but also your staff, about the business’ goals and what its core beliefs are.

Watch this video above for insights on the four-step process needed in order to guide your decision-making and help explain your restaurant’s intentions to customers.


SHOW NOTES

  • 8:44 - How Restaurants’ Value Statements Are Crossing Over Into Social Movements

  • 11:21 - Communicating Value Statements Between Management and Staff

  • 15:18 - Trends in Canadian Restaurant Markets


  • 0:15 - Introducing Industry Expert, Doug Radkey & Thoughts on Building a Brand

  • 1:39 - The Basis of Defining Your Restaurant’s Value Statements

  • 5:18 - Defining the Difference Between Value, Mission, and Culture Statements

 
 

Produced by:

Paul Barron

Paul Barron

Editor-in-Chief/Executive Producer


VIEW BIO

Ghost Kitchens, Abandoning Third-Party Delivery Partners and More Challenges Operators Will Face in 2019

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While there is a lot of discussion surrounding cannabis within the restaurant space in addition to new spotlights on fermentation, craft ‘tea bars’, farm-to-table (2.0,) breakfast day-parts, and plant-based food – there are also some ‘trends’ we should expect to see from the operations side as we celebrate the beginning of 2019.

Each individual venue, whether it is a restaurant, bar, cafe, food truck, or lounge etc. has their own distinct problems to solve, but the one constant among successful operators that we see today is their ability to adapt to change.

This means adapting to a change in consumer behavior, cost structure, supply chain dynamics, labor dynamics, and their hyper-local market & competition, to name a few.

Striving to manage the ‘unknown’ within these categories, however, can be quite scary for many new or seasoned, independent restaurateurs.

Operators must innovate to adapt efficiently to the ever-changing external & internal economic conditions – something that is incredibly important, and is arguably more important than ever, as we shift focus into this New Year.

Let’s have a look at the most critical changes operators should be adapting to:

Third-Party Delivery Pushback

There’s no question, delivery, and off-premise dining has disrupted and caused havoc on much of the restaurant industry over the past couple of years – and more so in 2018. The economic models and regulations surrounding third-party applications have recently come under scrutiny by consumers, restaurateurs, governments, and even the delivery drivers themselves.

While delivery and off-premise dining as a revenue channel shows no signs of slowing down – expect independent restaurant operators to change focus and develop their own strategy (online ordering + delivery) to effectively control costs and improve profitability (no more 20-30% commissions) while protecting their brand (through better quality control and customer service) and keeping that invaluable consumer data in-house.

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The Rise of Ghost Kitchens

While independent operators are adjusting to the change in delivery logistics and off-premise dining – they also need to keep in mind another ‘disruptor’ that is starting to emerge. It is what’s referred to as the "ghost kitchen."

These ‘restaurants’ (we use that term loosely) are delivery only and have no typical restaurant venue; where guests can walk in, sit at a table or even pick-up their own takeaway order.

What’s the business model? Their food is only accessible online or through a mobile app, and is exclusive via home delivery.

Thanks to the data that has been made available now to tech giants such as Amazon and the leading third-party delivery platforms (UberEats, Foodora, Skip the Dishes etc.) – expect to see more of these ghost kitchens serving unique dishes with flexible menu options that they know guests will be eager to buy and pay more for due to its level of convenience.

Smaller Foot Prints

Coinciding with the increase in delivery, off-premise dining, and on-demand consumers, expect to see both traditional restaurant start-ups and even already established brands looking to operate out of a smaller footprint.

To maximize a small space that will also drive a high-profit percentage per square foot, restaurateurs need to truly understand their concept inside and out. Operators need to create a variety of financial scenarios and menu choices (and sizes) and determine the absolute minimum needed to execute the concept in terms of space and financial projections.

Smaller spaces utilize minimal expenses in rent, staffing, and other fixed costs - however, smaller spaces often bring in a smaller portion of customers in relation to its size. This is where the right balance in menu prices, menu options, productivity, and the understanding of one’s concept, demographics, and potential flow of traffic throughout its dayparts, is crucial; whether dine-in, take-out and/or delivery.

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Tablet Hell

How many restaurants are operating with the view of a cockpit at its point-of-sale? It seems every data provider, mobile ordering system, and POS solution provider needs to have their own tablet or screen, creating a nightmare for both front-line staff and management alike.

To ease operations as we roll into 2019 – expect to see further partnerships and all-in-one solution providers to hit the scene, consolidating all of the technology into one, easy-to-use platform.

As we know, communication is fundamentally important in the restaurant space, so it only makes sense that operators should be looking to combine their accounting, inventory, sales reports, labor management, vendor management, online ordering, catering, and delivery logistic communications into one database.

Every operation has a different way of doing business with different uses for data. That being said, while having consumer & restaurant data might seem like the goal, finding ways to turn analytics into actionable items for a restaurant should actually be the mindset; something that needs to be a focus in 2019 to remain scalable, sustainable, profitable, memorable, and consistent!

Labor Consolidation

With smaller spaces in addition to the ongoing changes in how we operate today, and not to mention the always increasing wage structure within the industry – it only makes sense for operators to consolidate their labor. This doesn’t mean burning out employees or giving them more tasks then they can handle. It means finding ways to maximize efficiencies.

As you can see so far, smaller is becoming better. With the increase of open concept kitchens in the smaller foot-print restaurants, why can’t cooks cross-over to be service staff when the meal is ready? Why can’t mixologists and bartenders help out in the kitchen and also close out food orders?

Expect to see more of a blended FOH & BOH operations or a ‘one-house’ approach in cross-training to control labor costs, lower turnover, and maximize efficiency.

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With all of this said, are dine-in restaurants or your neighborhood pub a thing of the past? Not necessarily, if the operators create differentiation and memorable experiences while they focus on their own branding.

Restaurants today have to compete with supermarkets, food halls, food trucks, meal kits, ghost kitchens, and other third-party applications. The time is now for operators to innovate and adapt to the ever-changing external & internal conditions of this cut-throat industry.

It is possible to be profitable with a strategic mix of dine-in, take-out, delivery, and catering revenue channels if they’re in fact - open to change!

How to create a “Hidden Gem” by Maximizing on a Small Restaurant Space?

How to create a “Hidden Gem” by Maximizing on a Small Restaurant Space?

With online shopping trends growing each and every year, we have seen a rise in small brand retailers closing their brick-and-mortar locations. This, in turn, has created an opportunity for the restaurant industry, to utilize these smaller footprints for a defined, compact food and beverage concept.

The old adage of restaurants needing 2,500 to over 5,000 square feet of space has diminished over the past five years (minus the recent surge in shared food halls). It is becoming more common to see a 600 to 1,500-square-foot restaurant thanks to the noted retail closures in addition to lower lease cost demands during a time where all other restaurant-operating expenses seem to be on the rise.

However, finding a high-quality location of this size that meets the required foot traffic and other design/operational components to operate a successful restaurant is still a challenge for an aspiring restaurateur.

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4 Ways to Prevent Restaurant Burnout

4 Ways to Prevent Restaurant Burnout

We know restaurant owners, chefs, and managers, more often than not, wear too many hats, leading to upwards of 60 to 80+ hours of work per week.

No matter how much improvement we’ve collectively made in recent times to keep operations manageable, flexible, and “fun,” there still seems to be the long hours, the working on holidays and weekends, and the minimal margins. Let's not forget about the labor restraints, the rising operating costs, and the demand of the overall market to deliver quality food, drink, and experiences; all at often the lowest price point possible.

 It takes sacrifice and required systemized thinking, creativity, social skills, stress management, and a lot of passion to win in this industry— which leads to an enormous amount of personal pressure.  

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