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Setting Your Restaurant Apart: 7 Ways to Develop Your USP

A unique selling point (USP) is the foundation of a restaurant’s brand identity. Every eating establishment must set itself apart from nearby competitors in an unconventional way. Developing a USP can be challenging, especially if you recently underwent a brand overhaul or moved to a new location.

These seven tips will help you develop an effective new USP and differentiate your restaurant from the competition.

Assess Your Restaurant’s Background

Every restaurant has at least one 100% unique characteristic. Even establishments within the same chain have their own identities. You can draw inspiration for your USP from many sources:

  • Origin story: Does your restaurant have an interesting history?
  • Location: Is your eatery in a culturally significant location?
  • Unorthodox menu items: Does your menu have distinctive food or beverage options?
  • Secret family recipes: Does your restaurant have recipes customers can’t find elsewhere?
  • Innovative cooking techniques: Does your kitchen utilize innovative food preparation tools or techniques?
  • Dietary restrictions: Does your establishment cater to specific dietary restrictions?
  • Food sourcing: Do you purchase food and drinks from local farmers or other unconventional sources?
  • Traditions: Does your restaurant have any traditions or rituals customers can participate in?

You just have to find one interesting detail in your restaurant’s background. Don’t be afraid to think outside the box. Some eateries have strange USPs. For example, the American restaurant chain “Dick’s Last Resort” employs intentionally rude staff to provide a wholly unique customer experience. Dick’s USP is terrible service, and it works like a charm.

Know Your Customer Base

An effective USP appeals to a restaurant’s customer base. You can’t please everyone, so you might as well focus on your main target audience. It’s much easier to appeal to one niche than a wide range of demographics. 

Location is the most influential factor when determining your target audience. Finding your main demographic should be easy, but the hard part is figuring out customer motivations. A great way to gain insights into people’s behavior is to conduct frequent surveys and offer incentives for participation.

It will be easier to develop a new USP as you become more familiar with your customers. All you have to do is determine which unique detail about your restaurant they would be most interested in. For example, a burger joint in a college town should emphasize features that appeal to students — low prices, takeout options and natural ingredients.

Write a Mission Statement

An effective strategy to narrow your USP is by writing a concise mission statement. A slogan like Burger King’s “have it your way” is a good start but doesn’t communicate the restaurant’s uniqueness. Famous chef Wolfgang Puck provides a perfect example of an effective USP mission statement for CUT, his restaurant in New York City:

“CUT is where New Yorkers broker deals over power meals, and where Tribeca’s residents come to dine, wine and unwind, while world travelers immerse themselves in downtown NYC’s emerging culinary scene.”

This description has a crystal clear understanding of New York City’s customer base. It gives proper recognition to the locals, tourists and high-ranking executives who have the money to eat at a fine dining establishment. It also uses rhyming and charming vocabulary to mirror the restaurant’s sophisticated atmosphere.

Get Employee Buy-In

Employee buy-in is essential for executing any selling strategy in the restaurant business. Your staff must be on board with your new USP. If your USP revolves around a specific feature like a menu item or cooking technique, the employees must know it by heart and be able to explain it to new customers.

For example, barbeque restaurants that use cooking pellets should encourage employees to explain how they work. A simple description of how the pellets produce even heat and smoky flavors that taste different from other cooking methods is enough to interest people. If the staff is well-informed and enthusiastic about your USP, so will the customers. 

Leverage Technology

Once you establish a USP and get the whole staff on board, you must market it everywhere. Use your social media accounts, email newsletter and printed materials to spread the word. One way to set yourself apart is by implementing guest-facing technologies that allow customers to digitally interact within the restaurant.

Make the Necessary Design Changes

You might also have to make some design changes for your USP to be successful. To appeal to a young adult audience, consider adding pool tables and other common games in bars and restaurants. If being family-friendly is a part of your USP, you should have plenty of booths and long tables for larger gatherings.

Be Consistent

You must be consistent. Your USP has to remain your restaurant’s primary point of emphasis. If you’re known for cooking a phenomenal steak, you must train new employees to cook one that meets your standards. Having a catchy mission statement and appealing interior design isn’t enough. You need to practice what you preach and always keep your USP at the forefront of your operations.

Break Through With a New USP

Unique selling points often come from unlikely sources. Explore your restaurant’s background and see if any details catch your eye. Once you find something interesting, run with it and see how your customers respond. It might take a few attempts to find your ideal USP, but once you do, your restaurant will experience a major breakthrough.

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