Competing with chain restaurants has always been a struggle, but the COVID-19 pandemic has made it even harder for local, independent restaurants to compete with chain restaurant behemoths. But that doesn’t mean all mom-and-pop restaurants are doomed to fail. In fact, the best way to fight chain restaurants isn’t to try to mimic them, but rather to hone-in on the specific strengths inherent to local restaurants.
When businesses scale up, it’s easy to start prioritizing quantity over quality, which often happens to large chain restaurants. That opens up a market for high-quality, individualized dining experiences. Rather than trying to drum up the same kind of a business as a chain, make each individual interaction as special as possible. That means buying the best ingredients, serving the best recipes, and facilitating the best interactions between your customers and the wait staff. If you focus on quality you should start seeing more business, especially since people are much more likely to write a review for a local restaurant.
The benefit of a chain restaurant is that the food and the experience is the same wherever you go, but that’s not the only type of dining experience people are looking for. Independent restaurants should play to their strengths by thinking local, which can include everything from choosing a local wholesale food supplier and adding a local delicacy to the menu to displaying local art and having local musicians perform on weekend nights. While chains are trying to create a universal experience, independent restaurants should be tailoring the experience to the wants and needs of their specific clientele.
While national chain restaurants can afford TV spots, independent restaurants have to be a bit more strategic in their restaurant marketing strategies. The best way to rally the community behind your local restaurant is to rally your support for the community. This can take many different forms, from sponsoring a local sports team and donating your food to a local charity event to holding beer naming contests and offering a restaurant loyalty program. Remember, building relationships in the local community will develop good will, and if you have the high-quality food to back it up, it should lead to loyal customers.
While chain restaurants have the benefit of name recognition, they’re also beholden to decisions from the top that may or may not be right for their individual location. Take advantage of your flexibility by trying new things and accommodating the local clientele and current food trends. If, for example, you’re noticing more and more vegetarian diners, update your menu to include vegan burger options. If more and more diners are looking for no-contact curbside take-out and delivery options, prioritize designing an in-house online ordering system and in-house delivery options. Remember, your size means you have the ability to tailor the experience to the people you’re serving.
If you’re looking for fair prices on high-quality ingredients or need help with restaurant marketing or menu development, now’s the time to contact McDonald Wholesale, your local restaurant supplier in Oregon, Washington, Idaho, and California.