Creative restaurant concepts and promotions have become increasingly important for generating publicity, attracting diners and distinguishing restaurants from their competitors. Using creative ideas offers many benefits for keeping restaurants fresh and trendy, but restaurateurs need to manage even the most creative approaches with traditional management skills and proven business strategies. New ideas attract customers and keep energy high, but regular customers who return every day prefer that menu items and service remain reliable. Getting too creative or trigger-happy about new ideas and promotional initiatives could damage regular business, so developing a structured methodology for applying new ideas ensures greater chances of success.
Seeking Feedback from Trusted Experts and Advisers
New restaurant ideas often cost more than anticipated, interrupt established business, fail to satisfy the company’s brand or generate less business and publicity than expected. Savvy restaurateurs get feedback on their proposals from trusted advisers, other restaurant owners who have used similar strategies and business consultants. Checking with staff members in the front and back of the house is also essential for ensuring that changes work as hoped. Polling customers through loyalty programs, surveys and word-of-mouth inquiries also delivers better intelligence about proposed ideas. Possible problems of any creative business idea or promotion include:
- Forgetting that business creativity should solve more problems than it generates
- Failing to train staff in how the new ideas work
- Possible undercapitalization
- Using ideas that don’t match the restaurant’s brand
- Copying other restaurants instead of introducing original ideas
- Not assessing the competition’s reaction
- Trying promotions at the wrong location
- Appealing to a general audience instead of targeting the restaurant’s customer base
Matching New Ideas with Restaurant Style, Demographics and Brand
Restaurant changes and promotions should always match the restaurant’s style of cuisine and customer base. Integrating the changes might involve making changes in décor, advertising strategy, loyalty program or accounting system. Cautious managers might want to try new ideas as seasonal promotions, special celebrations or temporary events to gauge responses, refine planning and avoid major disruptions to restaurant routine. Treat any new idea as if writing a business plan for a new company, and do a thorough study of competition, demographic trends in the area and talent and equipment needed to get started.
Planning Logistical Details Beforehand
Logistics must support the plan or promotion for launching new menu items or services. Restaurants need to have sufficient trained staff to handle the launch, enough inventory to satisfy anticipated demand and a supply chain to replenish inventory. New ideas that are based on sustainable local foods, need to be arranged with reliable vendors. Planning details need to include the following solutions:
- Equipment and training to handle production
- Changes in front-of-house operations to ensure that new endeavors work successfully
- Ability to escalate inventory and operations to meet unexpected demand
- Promoting to the right audience
- Changing menus, logos and interior design if appropriate
The hospitality business generates many challenges for restaurateurs who want to keep their operations fresh, creative and fashionable without alienating core customers. Planning promotions and starting new endeavors depend on thorough planning and matching the ideas with style of cuisine, existing customers and targeted prospects. Creative ideas generate excitement among staff and customers, but they also create problems if not carefully considered in advance.
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