Service Industry Branding
How to ensure your brand promise and experience always delivers
According to the National Restaurant Association, there was over 1 million restaurants located in the U.S. in 2018 with projected sales at around $825 billion dollars. In Louisiana alone, restaurant sales were estimated to be around $10.3 billion. With consumers spending almost 48% of their total food budget on eating out, it’s easy to understand why so many choose to jump head first into the food service industry. Unfortunately, nearly 60% of all new restaurants fail within the first 2-3 years of opening, which makes both the learning curve and entry level into the service industry extremely hard and often costly.
It would be easy to break down the reasons why so many restaurants don’t make it. Some of the most notorious reasons include bad-tasting food, bad customer service, and bad restaurant locations. Clearly, no amount of marketing can save these types of establishments from themselves. Inexperience though seems to be one of the biggest factors. Managing staff, food costs, and consumer expectations can be the Achilles heal of so many well-meaning restaurateurs. This all comes way before any marketing successes or failures come into play.
In regards to branding, the same key factors apply to the service industry as they would to any other business. It begins with understanding who you are as a business, an understanding of your target audience is, and most importantly, pinpointing what your brand promise is.
A restaurant’s commitment to its brand promise will help ensure that they are delivering on consumer expectations on all levels, whether it be the food, the service, or the overall customer experience.
Remember, the consumer is control of your brand, and while you can help influence it, you can’t manufacture the outcome. According to Holly Everett with Upserve.com:
- 90% percent of guests research a restaurant before dining.
- 57 percent of those guests viewed restaurant websites before selecting where to dine.
- 33 percent view other guests’ reviews prior to dining.
Based on these statistics, it is essential that restaurants not only provide a positive guest experience, but also include a positive online experience as well. This includes having an optimized, mobile-friendly website that features menus, hours of operation, and branded messaging that properly captures the essence of the brand itself.
Driving traffic to your site is also an important element which comes from having an effective Search Engine Optimization (SEO) plan, as well as a social media presence that forms emotional connections with your target audience.
Understanding and implementing SEO can be challenging, but it is vital to ensuring people can find you online. Same thing goes for social media, whether your using Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or Youtube.
Managing social media is often considered to be one of the biggest challenges, but in truth, that’s the easy part. Discovering which channels are right for your audience and providing content that will best resonate with them is the real test.
Being authentic should always be the guiding force as you engage your audience online. If you receive a positive review, for example, be sure to thank them. If it happens to be a negative remark, thank them as well. Just like you wouldn’t have an argument with a guest in the dining room, you should never have one with them online.
In the end, none of this really matters if the food, service, and experience fail to deliver on a consistent basis. These are the backbones of your brand promise, and no amount of branding will help if you can’t ensure these basic deliverables.
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