6 Biggest Challenges All Restaurant Owners Face

All restauranteurs face many of the same challenges. Take heart in the fact that you are not alone, and that these common challenges also have strategies for overcoming them.

By approaching these challenges as opportunities, you can make your business stronger and increase your chances for success.

Challenge #1: Create A Unique Selling Proposition

Standing out from the crowd is one of the toughest challenges any restaurant will face. To cut through the competition, successful restaurants are able to differentiate themselves by specifying what makes them better. Grubhub outlines the following steps to formulate this unique selling proposition:

  • Distinguish Yourself. Pinpoint what makes your restaurant distinct, such as using only sustainable ingredients, offering authentic ethnic cuisine, or family recipes.
  • Identify Your Customer. Target specific customers who will connect with your distinct characteristics, rather than trying to appeal to everyone.
  • Spread The Word. Craft a statement that succinctly summarizes how your unique selling point will benefit your target customer, and use that in every marketing piece.

Your unique selling proposition will differentiate your restaurant from the competition and attract customers that resonate with your brand.

Challenge #2: Formulate a 360-Degree Marketing Plan

Being able to follow through on a unique selling proposition is another sticking point for many restaurants. Here are five key components to implement in a thorough marketing plan to promote your unique selling proposition, capture and retain customers, and make you competitive.

  • Social Media: Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are singularly effective platforms for creating your brand personality and engaging with customers. Post relevant content, pictures, promotions and more, and also  check out Grubhub’s tips on converting customers into social media brand ambassadors.
  • Modern Website. According to Grubhub, 77% of restaurant searches begin on mobile devices. Make sure your website adjusts automatically to different devices and is mobile-friendly to capture this audience.
  • Online Ordering. Grubhub exposes you to thousands of hungry diners looking to order right now, attracting new customers and streamlining operations.
  • Review Sites. Encourage customer input, and respond to reviews to frame your brand positively, and attract inquisitive diners.
  • Loyalty Programs. Certain rewards programs on Grubhub’s platform encourage loyal customers to invite family and friends, which markets your brand and attracts potential new customers.

Challenge #3: Standardize Branding

Maintaining consistency in marketing is another obstacle to overcome. With different elements and multiple people contributing to your marketing plan, preserving uniformity in brand and marketing imagery and content can prove difficult.

Yet, by establishing a clear set of rules, standards and guidelines for everyone involved to use, you can help keep your branding consistent:

  • Brand assets. Create a guidebook with specific details on logo usage, colors, graphics, fonts, etc. to ensure every piece of your marketing puzzle fits together and is consistent.
  • Brand Personality. Identify your brand voice and style for posts, ad copy, and more so that all messaging is on point.

Challenge #4: Offer a Streamlined Menu

Sometimes restauranteurs present menus that just don’t work well either for themselves or their customers. Here is some tips on how to create a menu that reflects your brand and drives sales purposefully:

  • Be Selective. Grubhub finds that keeping menus simple and featuring items that align with your brand is one strategy that can lead to more orders.
  • Use Space Strategically. Place your highest-margin items at the top of sections and pages and use graphical “eye magnets” to highlight certain items.
  • Write Persuasively. Create appealing yet pithy descriptions that whet appetites and set accurate expectations.
  • “Soften” Prices. Focus attention on your items (not prices) by nixing dollar signs and leader dots.

Challenge #5: Staff Effectively

Staffing is an on-going situation with many moving parts that can be difficult to manage. Because staffing will account for more than a quarter of your budget, it’s vital to your success to handle it effectively. Grubhub offers the following staffing pointers:

  • Track Activity.  One major challenge is knowing how many people you’ll need: too few and customer service will suffer, while too many will waste money. To strike the proper balance, examine sales activity through your digital POS system. With historical data, you’ll be able to schedule the appropriate amount of staff.
  • Use Digital Scheduling Software. From receiving scheduling requests, to communicating last-minute changes, to staff finding coverage for their shift, manual scheduling processes can get messy. Digital scheduling solutions can provide a centralized scheduling hub where the entire staff can communicate and collaborate.
  • Schedule In Advance. Your staff has responsibilities and lives outside of work, yet you need to run you business. That’s why scheduling at least two weeks out will keep employees happier and reduce turnover, while allowing you a little wiggle room to accommodate last-minute changes.

Challenge #6: Have Enough Start-up Capital

Approximating start-up costs can be challenging. Grubhub stresses the importance of estimating start-up expenses carefully to avoid depleting reserve funds you’ll need for emergencies and covering expenses for at least one year.

By being aware of these major challenges, you will be better prepared to tackle them proactively, without losing focus or taking your eyes off the prize.

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