Opening a restaurant is one of the oldest and most stable business ventures you can go on. Everyone is looking for new food, everyone is looking for good food, and not everyone can get that at home.
But the landscape for a successful business is very different today from when it was even half a decade ago. People have different eating out habits, influenced by new external behaviors, and of course, Covid managed to change the industry forever.
To add to that, the online space is very different from what it once was too. You will need to combine new techniques in opening a restaurant and social media marketing to make a great success of your new venture. Read on to find out how.
Offer something unique
It’s the oldest idea because it’s the best, and it’s more important than ever to give your customers something they can talk about. No longer are they coming out for a good meal. They can get a good meal at home. And with record introversion leading people to prefer staying at home, you really need to give people a reason to come out beyond food.
So, see what you can come up with. It might be as simple as a style of décor not usually seen, or it could serve a gap in the market. Come up with your own based around a gap in the market, like Dans Le Noir, which offers a pitch-black premise and surprise meals. You’re ultimately looking for a talking point. Some ideas went too far, like the trend of offering food on anything but a plate. Foodies won’t want to eat their burger off of a shovel, but they at least hit the nail on the head by making a talking point. Just make sure it’s good to talk.
A leftover element from lockdown that is sure to bring in customers is a takeout service. Once considered low-brow or a hassle that wasn’t worth it, takeout services are now proven money makers. Make sure that you have a hook-up to Deliveroo, JustEat, UberEats, etc. More people are staying in but still want a good meal, which they are still showing off to their friends on social media, we might add. Find out how to untangle all the food delivery logistics with this handy guide.
Lean into your sustainability
One big “gimmick,” if you want to call it that, is food that is self-conscious. People want to know that you can cater to everyone, so look into providing food for all allergies, for all dietary options like veganism and vegetarianism, beyond serving mac and cheese, and aim to provide sustainable meals. Look into organic food and ethical farming, and make sure you let everyone know what you’re doing.
Social media users are not only a lot more aware of the world’s problems today and actively trying to avoid creating more, but they are looking into who they buy from and otherwise support, so make sure your social media accounts show how aware you are of relevant problems and how you aim to fix them.
Give your staff an extra skill.
All that we’ve mentioned, however, has been embraced well by the hospitality industry. At the opening of lockdown, you might have noticed a lot of restaurants sprucing up their outdoor premises in order to entice the likes of Instagram users. We know we saw a lot of fake cherry blossoms spring out in a city where the climate is not made for it.
However, something that isn’t as common and will really make you stand out is an extra skill in your staff. Today, users want to get to know the team, and they want to know the team is well looked after, so you can put your staff through some training to learn a displayable skill, like cocktail mixing, knife skills, etc.
Go wild with it. There is a restaurant in Australia called Karen’s Diner where the staff is (humorously) rude to all the customers, in a new-age protest against the idea that the customer is always right.
Tap into micro-influencers
TikTok and Facebook don’t have a lot in common, but they do have one thing: communities. People are finding their people online. On TikTok, that’s due to an algorithm presenting you with what they think you’ll like, and on Facebook, you have the chance to go hunting for “groups” of your people.
In both instances, there are leaders that are rising to the top. They have a smaller following than traditional influencers, but what few followers they have are very dedicated. They’re called micro-influencers.
It makes sense. Users can look to this leader of their smaller group and know that anything they recommend is made for them because this person is like them. You can use this dedication to smaller influencers to send traffic to your door.
For example, sometimes, the simplest groups are made up of people in a certain area. Market in groups that include your town name in their titles to get everyone nearby interested. To expand, ask micro-influencers who cover food to visit and review your restaurant. Tap into more niche genres, like cocktail mixing, brunch, “scran,” and other genres and trends around food to target who you think would be interested in visiting your restaurant.
Use user-generated content
You will want to encourage user-generated content. User-generated content is essentially affiliate content without the paycheck. Restaurants lend themselves well to this. People visit, take pictures of their food, tag your restaurant, and tell people that they are enjoying their time there, creating buzz around your restaurant.
We’ve already talked about needing a niche or something unique, and this is one big reason why. Even if people don’t like your food, they haven’t entirely wasted their night because you have offered them a photo opportunity. It sounds shallow, but it can make up for a lot of sins. Users will be very excited to show off something different about the restaurant, whether it’s the food itself or the premises, or the extra elements.
You can encourage more user-generated content by featuring content you like on your own page. Sift through your tags and occasionally feature people who left a good review on your page.