Quick tips to stay competitive in the restaurant market

Who remembers when every restaurant would shut between lunch and dinner? When the only coffee available was filter? When steak was considered the fanciest dish on any menu? In the main, the industry has moved so far beyond what used to be considered “hospitality” that it’s crazy to look back at what used to be. But with so many amazing venues and cool concepts on the market, it can be difficult to stay competitive.

Which is why we’ve come up with a list of all the ways you can diversify your business. We’re sure you’ve thought of most of these already but it can be handy to have it all listed in one place. Onwards!

Get on the mocktails 

We’re all a lot more health-conscious now than in the past. And with increasingly tough drink driving rules, a lot more of your clientele are not drinking alcohol when they go out. Instead of pushing overpriced fizzy juice or another OJ on your guests, why not move into mocktails? Things have moved on a lot since the only thing on offer was a Shirley Temple and now even places like Michelin-starred Galvin at Windows is offering low and no alcohol cocktails that have people raving. Some of our favourites to get you started:

Diversify your softies

If you’re not really a mocktail kinda place, how about diversifying your softies or  non-alcoholic drinks? The rise in craft beer has also meant that non-drinkers have a lot more to choose from than Kestral. Beer giants Brewdog have one called Nanny State, Furstenberg do a pretty decent 0% beer, and some of the smaller ones are following suit too. There’s even low-alcohol wine now that gives all the taste with none of the falling over. Aside from low/non-alcoholic versions of drinks, Fentiman’s do a great range of exciting soft drinks, as do Whole Earth, and many local businesses that are worth checking out.

Get caffeinated

Have you been in a Starbucks after dinner-time recently? They’re so busy!  Many non-drinkers have taken to social media recently to bemoan the lack of places they can go in the evening that aren’t a soulless chain, or where they feel the need to drink alcohol. And with record numbers of pubs closing and record numbers of coffee shops opening, it seems clear where those drinkers are going. So it’s time to get in on the action and stop the stream of people ignoring your venue for a Costa. Make sure that your customers feel comfortable ordering coffee in your venue by providing a well-executed, well displayed selection. And make sure the coffee machine doesn’t get “turned off” after 8pm…

Kids’ menu

It can be surprisingly hard to figure out if a venue has a kids menu or not, see what times they let kids in, and if there are any areas children aren’t allowed in. For many parents, this means they end up going where they think will have minimum  fuss. And that’s why you should make it clear anywhere you can that you welcome children, updating your Facebook, website, Insta, and Google My Business. Also, with recent rises in healthy eating, serving up something that’s not chicken nuggets and chips is definitely a good idea. Consider doing smaller portions of adult meals, veggies on the side rather than chips, and healthy juices rather than a coke.

 

Private dining

Another area that is often under-advertised, private dining can be a great way to really maximise your profits. Many venues have a private dining area that they will sell if people call up to enquire, but isn’t advertised on their site. This is often because handling the online enquiries can be complicated. However, if  you’re a ResDiary user, you can use our enquiries widget to deal with requests for these areas. Pop it in a prominent position on your site, upload menus, and set up deposits for larger parties through your diaries. When you have a party of 25 in on a quiet Wednesday, you’ll be delighted you put the work in.

Cut the meat

Do you know how many people are cutting out meat recently? It’s a lot. In fact, according to The Guardian, over a third of people in the UK have cut out or are reducing their meat intake. With an increased awareness of sustainability and how eating meat affects us and the planet around us, now is a good time to tap into the veggie crowd. We’re not saying to scrap your menu and become completely plant-based, but it’s worth adding a few options or tweaking dishes that you already have on the menu.

Afternoon tea

A hugely popular option, especially at weekends, afternoon tea is one area of the industry that’s growing. It’s also a really easy area to diversify and branch out. We’ve seen lots of places doing themed afternoon teas or adding prosecco or gin to attract more people. But why not go even further? There are plenty of ways to branch out. Some examples:

  • Gents afternoon tea featuring burgers, pints, and loaded fries.  
  • Cocktail afternoon tea with tasty drinks and cocktail themed cakes
  • Themed afternoon teas. We saw an incredible Alice in Wonderland one at a hotel recently.

Delivery

We’ve touched on this in a recent ebook and for good reason. People now spend 73% more on home delivery than they did ten years ago, meaning it’s a booming market. Generally, food delivery is less expensive than eating out, and as people look to save money it can really only grow more. You can choose to either sign up to one of the big guns (you know the ones we mean) or go the traditional route and hire your own driver. Do bear in mind that this can put extra stress on your kitchen so take a look at doing a reduced menu or only offering delivery at specific times.

Be Instagrammable

We’re almost cringing writing that but honestly, looking good online is important. So much so that some restaurants are opening up with the purpose of “being Instagrammable.” They’re installing feature walls, basing their menus around looking good in pictures, and have their own hashtags. We’re not saying you have to go that far but having a gorgeous online presence can definitely attract people to your venue. Here’s some ideas: 

  • Look your best: no more blue rolls sitting out on counters ruining the perfect shot, hide the D10, and make sure the place is clean. 
  • Get plants: nothing says “Insta-perfect” than some greenery in the background. 
  • Get on the latte art: it’s actually quite easy and probably the most Instagrammed thing on the internet. 
  • Get an Instagram (and be active on it): it might sound pretty obvious but using Instagram is a great way to connect with your customers. If they tag you in photos you can reshare them or put them on your stories, you can give shoutouts to regulars and you can show people browsing how great your venue is.