Your Customers Need a Reason to Come to YOUR Restaurant Instead of Your Competition
Study Your Restaurant Competitor’s Menu
We all can be guilty of thinking that our food is so good that people will line up out the door to eat it. This is a big mistake, just as millions of mistaken restaurant owners before you who are now out of business.
You cannot survive in a competitive market if you do not know your competition.
MAGAZINE’S Definition: Identifying your competitors and evaluating their strategies to determine their strengths and weaknesses relative to those of your own product or service.
Fortunately, in the food industry, learning about your competitions menu is probably the easiest research you could imagine. Just go get a hard copy or find their website and study away!
Generally the rule to follow is all restaurants within your trading area of 5-10-15 mile radius, are in competition with you.
Some restaurants will be competing with you more directly than others.
An example of this, if you own a pizza joint, other pizza restaurants will be competing with you more directly than a burger place or a sub shop.
You should consider any restaurant in your trading area competition but direct competitors should be studied more than secondary competitors. Direct competitors include any restaurants nearby with a similar menu, atmosphere, price or target market.
The National Restaurant Association suggests that all similar restaurants within a 15-minute drive from yours should be considered direct competition.
Even the nearby grocery store can steal your business.
For example, if you own a sub shop and the nearby grocery store offers subs made to order or prepared and ready to go ones, at their deli or take-out counter, they are probably taking away some of your business, and you need to consider this as you develop a menu and marketing strategy.
Another indirect study option is read any reviews you can find; with all the different social media formats out there reviews are at your fingertips.
The best part of online restaurant reviews is that they are usually written by the customers themselves. Furthermore, the reviews are often more truthful than the information you would get from a customer satisfaction survey or from asking customers directly. Begin your online research at some of the following sites:
Other ways to gauge your competition
Most local newspapers will contain a food section or designated day of the week towards reviews be on the lookout for any mention of your competition. Free papers or magazines listing entertainment, things to do or place to visit will often contain reviews of restaurants, bars and events.
Often times, customers in your restaurant will be talking about the competition in comparison with where they are currently eating. Ask your servers and other staff to keep their ears opens for any comments like this.
And by all means go out to eat, especially at your direct competitors’ restaurants!