A restaurant analyst today said that 12,000 additional casual restaurants of the Applebees, Chilis, Fridays, Bennigans type will need to close.
A restaurant closing is not normally a headline in any paper; but 12,000 will make headlines anytime.
So why was Applebees the darling of the stock market, a favorite of consumers, and the fastest growing chain just a few years ago?
Chilis, Fridays. Ruby Tuesday all expanded at the same time. But they were indistinguishable in their menus, pricing and decor. If someone blindfolded you and placed you in a booth with a plate of food, when the blindfold was removed you couldn’t identify where you were.
Can a customer identify what is different about your service? Is your only point of differentiation your price?
If you have attended SFS you know the only way to differentiate your business is by wowing the customer and turning her into a cheerleader.
The casual restaurants are all trying to compete with more and more specials and discounts. In other words they will try to bring in more customers but with less profit. This is the slippery slope of no return.
No company, cleaning or restaurant, has ever downsized to greatness.
Look in your neighborhood to see which restaurants are still doing well. I can guarantee they are independents who are serve unique food with personalized service. They know their customers and make them feel special. The same values you provide your customers.
Don’t let your company be a Bennigans.