A question that troubles all entrepreneurs entering the hospitality business for the first time is ‘How to start a casual dining chain and take it to success?’ The answer to this isn’t actually much rocket-science and if given careful thought, it is quite simple to comprehend. Listed below are 7 ways to successfully start and run a casual dining chain:
Good food: There is nothing that can attract foodies back to your place more aggressively than good food - food that they would want to have again and again and would recommend to their friends. This is the major differentiator between some restaurants that tend to remain popular among only local neighbourhoods while some tend to attract customers from faraway areas. Good word of mouth publicity beats any kind of paid advertising mediums in rasing the standard of your business.
Menu Decision and Trials as per the audience: The menu needs to be decided on the basis of what audiences you would want to cater to. What is the kind of food people in an area love? How unique is your menu and how likely is it to attract new customers? Equally important is to carry out trials to test if a new menu would work or not- What are the new things that the customers are looking at trying? Are they looking for good cocktails to compliment the food?
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Courteous Staff and Hospitality: One thing that your customers are most likely to remember about their time at your casual dining place is how they were treated by the staff. This is the major thing that might decide if they are likely to return or not. Guests might love your food, but due to a single rude behaviour of one of your staff, they might never recommend your place to anyone. Hence, the staff needs to be smart and courteous, understanding of the guests’ needs and be able to tackle situations with ease. They should be able to take bouquets and brickbats with equal fervour.
Ambience and Interiors: Another important point that attracts your customers is the ambience and interior designing of your place. While a closed place with posh interiors might work for some, others may prefer a more casual open-air setting. The lighting of the place, the kind of seating spaces available, the music played on the speakers- they all set the mood and tone of the place and hence, the mood of your guests.
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Location and Investment: One major mistake that entrepreneurs tend to do is choosing the wrong location for their dining place. Guests are much more likely to visit your place if you are located in a conveniently-reachable location or neighbourhood. Even if you serve great food, people are not likely to visit you if you are at a remote location and not easily accessible. A good investment on the location becomes highly important and a key factor in deciding the restaurant’s long-term success
Trials: It is always imperative to run your restaurant on a trial period for at least a week before its launch. In this period, you need to measure what is working for your guests and what is not. Do they like the food preparation? Is the menu easy to read? Are the ambience and lighting easy on the eyes? It’s a period to take feedback and implement before launching the place for the world. It also helps your staff to get used to the setup and be prepared for any shortcoming.
USP: Why should anyone visit your casual dining place? It’s one question on which the entire success of your chain might depend on and should be carefully thought of. How are you different from all the other dining places in town? What sets you apart from everyone else? What is the unique experience that guests can get at your place? Why should guests choose your place in the first place? These basic questions need to be cautiously answered and worked towards.