I spent nearly 2 months investigating about restaurant owners across the globe, trying to find a way to help my clients and friends achieve above 45% ROI. I did some research about people in leading tourism driven states. I ran into some lucky fellows who explained their experience such as:
Adam Willner, 39, founder of a Pan-Asian restaurant in San Francisco who started with half a million bucks in 1996 and was swimming in millions very soon, insisted good staff is a valuable source.
“You have to make sure you have the right people for the job,” he said. “The basic truth of the restaurant industry is that you are only as good as your last meal. And there is really no substitute for that,” Willner added on marketing matters.
Todd Graves, 32, founder and CEO of Raising Cane’s Chicken Fingers is another great example. He started with $140,000, yet his annuals sales projection skyrocketed above $30M very soon. Graves identifies financing as the main start-up obstacle. When seeking loans for his restaurant he was laughed out the door by numerous bank managers who argued southern Louisiana locals would never be interested in a restaurant serving nothing but chicken fingers. He realized he would have to come up with the money himself. After 8 months of hard work in LA and Alaska, he came back home to Baton Rouge and convinced investors to put more into the project. The best advice Graves received was, “Concentrate on progress rather than perfection.”
Steele Platt, 45, founder and CEO of Yard House started with $150,000 back in 1995. Platt raised $900,000 without the help of friends or family. In ‘04 he had a whopping sales estimate of $70 million.
“I would say it’s 70 percent savvy and 30 percent luck,” he said in explaining his success. Platt was a millionaire by 26. And the best advice he got on day one? “Don’t take no for an answer. Overcome the obstacles set by others who try to talk you out of it.” Platt urges aspiring restaurateurs to know their competition.
I have to also mention 40-year-old Sheila McCann, founder of House of Bread. Her start-up expense was $188,000 in 1996 and yet tripled her income in the first eight years. Being tenacious was one of the strategies McCann used to break into this business. Her advice for start-ups? “Don’t give up. Be persistent.”
I consider these success stories as very classic, and this is exactly what my old man always used to tell me about being persistent, hardworking and etc. But the reality nowadays is quite different. As a matter of fact, if you want to stay in line with the competition you need to focus on a subject enjoying the most traffic overall. Only then can you guarantee your restaurant will actually receive the most attention and render more ROI.
Where to look?
With more and more consumers opting to shop online through the Internet and mobile services, your online presence will perhaps be the most crucial factor of your business’s ability to generate leads, and possibly convert those leads to customers/guests.
Some experts will argue that increased traffic depends on search engine ranking, which in turn is solely dependent on the technical aspects of your site, such as load time, caching features and keywords. I believe that while technical aspects are crucial and must be taken into consideration, you must tailor and optimize your online business with your customers in mind, not the search engines. It is no use directing traffic to your website if visitors will not find the content they are looking for.
What is Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)?
Most customers initiate their sales through search engines such as Google, Yahoo, and Bing. Surveys show more than 95% of users never go beyond the first page of their search results. Therefore, being ranked top in search engines is perhaps the most effective factor that will draw visitors to your website when looking for a specific service you offer.
Content Management and Marketing
Visitors will be disenchanted if they browse to your site and find poor content. One of the most important factors in generating leads is to constantly have your site filled with fresh and engaging content. Proper content will encourage visitors to stay on your website and return for more later on (and possibly persuade others to visit your website as well).
First of all, make sure your website’s pages are well-structured and their content is well-researched, making you stand out amongst others in your field. This will be the first step to establish trust in customers new to your website. Blogging, comment management and guest posting will also help visitors to have an active role in the development of your website’s content, providing them more reason to revisit and look for updates. Needless to say that good content is per se an important SEO factor and will help improve your search ranking.
Social Media Marketing
Hundreds of millions of users (more than one billion in the case of Facebook) are using social media on a daily basis. Social media offers cost-effective and easy-to-use facilities to find and reach out to people who are interested in your line of business. This effectively makes social media one of the best mediums to find customers and draw their attention to your products and services, and with the right account setups and proper strategies you can quickly generate a windfall of new leads for your site.
Of course, you can still try to go out and try marketing for your restaurant in the old fashion way. Working hard is something that will never perish through the evolution of man and society. It is more the mechanism that differs with time. A simple website can work for you 24/7 with no need to hire staff, a reception guy or operator girl. Social Media Marketing spreads your brand into thousands and millions of screens, no matter their size. A simple restaurant application can help you plan a loyalty program encourages your guests to return. As they say, “You can’t eat tech, but it can beat you”.