5 ways independent restaurants and small chains are crushing their competition using today's smart, affordable, integrated technology.
With more and more major chain restaurants opening every day, independent and small chain eateries across the nation are turning to new strategies to help them compete against major brands. Here’s a look at how today’s technology and modern marketing strategies help small businesses thrive in a highly competitive market.
The competitive landscape
It’s likely no surprise that for many independent restaurants these are tough times. Over 7,158 independent restaurants have closed their doors since 2009, while chains have grown by at least 4,511 units. National chains often enjoy the advantage of big budgets, purchasing power, lower prices, a team of experts and national ad campaigns based on big data. Though the challenge might seem daunting, independent restaurant owners posses many advantages over their larger competitors. By combining dedication, local flavor, and a deep understanding of the community with today’s technology restaurant owners can build on their strengths to keep customers coming back.
Use in-store technology to focus on strategy, not the daily grind
Today’s restaurant point-of-sale systems are smarter than ever before and more effective at helping owners control costs. With the move toward tablet point-of-sale for iPad and Android, Granbury Solutions, provides a low cost option for independent restaurants. These easy-to-use solutions simplify ordering with a conversational approach to order taking and a system for managing customer information. Powerful tools such as inventory management, delivery tracking and rules-based discounts help owners drive further efficiencies and maintain control over daily operations. Not only do owners have more control than ever, they can also stay connected while away from their business with in depth reporting, mobile alerts, detailed customer tracking.
Connect to Customers with Online & Mobile Ordering
A key component of small restaurant success lies in connecting with customers. Today’s consumers connect constantly and they expect independent businesses to be accessible via online and mobile devices, just like most chain restaurants. With over 69% of surveyed consumers claiming they have placed a food order on a mobile app, restaurants who add mobile and online ordering can take advantage of suggestive selling technology to dramatically increase ticket averages. As these tools improve order accuracy and make it convenient for customer to order, restaurants see increases in customer satisfaction and order frequency.
Unexpected New Ways to Reduce Costs
As food costs rise chain competitors consistently cut prices, which makes controlling food costs a major area of concern for restaurants. Surprisingly, only 8% of independent restaurants reported regularly counting inventory and tracking variances. Using technology to track variances from ideal usage, identify problem areas, measure usage and analyze item profitability, the average restaurant could save $15,000 or more annually!
Another key tool for reducing costs is an intelligent system for managing labor costs. Using a point-of-sale system with an accurate forecasting tool, businesses can schedule staff appropriately to fit a realistic budget. Built-in tools to enforce schedules and send alerts about overtime help managers keep critical labor costs within budget as well as simplifying administrative tasks.
Rethink Marketing- It’s Personal
Busy restaurant owners often struggle to fit marketing into their daily schedules. Restaurants can often make a major impact on sales by boosting customer retention and frequency. Many owners are surprised to learn that by improving customer retention rates by as little as 5%, they can increase overall profits by up to 95%.
By implementing a customer loyalty and rewards program, restaurant owners can easily manage marketing efforts and build relationships with their best customers through personalized marketing messages. Email and text message loyalty programs provide restaurants with a cost-effective solution for personalizing marketing materials as well as the ability to track offer redemption and response rates.
Granbury Solutions offers a simple, yet powerful solution for automating customer loyalty and marketing efforts. This fully integrated loyalty solution enables owners to educate customers about why they’re better than the competition and turn customers into loyal fans.
Manage Customer Feedback
Another important area of focus for independent restaurants is managing customer feedback. With the increase in consumers searching for businesses and posting reviews online, connecting with customers and resolving complaints is critical. Customer feedback is inevitable so business owners must adapt and use it to their advantage.
A winning strategy for managing customer feedback involves identifying customer transactions and inviting customers to provide feedback via an internal survey system. Responding quickly to complaints and positive comments alike builds relationships with customers and keeps them coming back, even after a negative experience. This strategy enables restaurants to identify brand advocates and invite them to review or share their experience publicly.