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Helping Your Restaurant Thrive in a Bad Area: 7 Tips

Among the top criteria for restaurant success is location — or is it? While establishing your restaurant on a busy downtown street is ideal for getting customers through the door, not everyone is lucky enough to grab the perfect spot. 

What makes for a bad restaurant location? Industry experts will say residential neighborhoods and anywhere with low visibility and poor accessibility are not places you want to be. Likewise, areas with higher crime rates will also deter potential customers. 

Fortunately, quality restaurants can still thrive in less-than-ideal locations. While it’ll require more effort to entice customers to visit your eatery, these seven tips can help your business succeed wherever you are. 

Market Exceptional Quality 

An effective marketing strategy does wonders for any restaurant. For those in bad areas, marketing is non-negotiable. Start by contacting people in your restaurant’s neighborhood, including distributing flyers and hanging signs near your establishment. If your restaurant has low visibility, ensure your signage is attractive and eye-catching. 

A more robust marketing approach could entail hiring a marketing agency. However, there are ways to approach digital marketing successfully on your own. For instance, set up social media accounts and include local tags on each post. Other things you can do include:

  • Creating a free Google My Business account
  • Claiming your restaurant listing on Yelp, TripAdvisor and OpenDoor
  • Leveraging localized influencer marketing
  • Establishing email marketing
  • Investing in paid advertisements
  • Reaching customers through SMS marketing

You should also ask satisfied customers to leave positive reviews for your business online. According to research, 82% of customers read online reviews before purchasing items — another 93% say reviews influence their buying decisions.

Uphold Superior Taste and Service

Whether you’re in the right location doesn’t always matter — your restaurant’s success will always hinge on quality food and customer service. When you serve the freshest ingredients from delicious menu offerings, customers won’t be able to resist stopping in. 

Providing superior customer service and a memorable dining experience is equally important to good-tasting food. Invest in your restaurant’s decor to deliver a comfortable ambiance. Hiring the right waitstaff and cooks also ensures quality service. Invest the money you save on high rent in proper training for staff. 

Opt for Automated Cash Management

Generally, inflation leads to a rise in burglary and theft, posing a significant risk to restaurants. You may already be on edge if your restaurant is in a bad area. Quick service establishments are especially vulnerable. 

Transitioning from manual cash management to an automated system can better protect your employees and revenue from crime. Manual cash management requires leaving the store to deposit and withdraw cash, putting staff in danger of crime outside your eatery. 

An automated system eliminates the need to leave the restaurant, enabling you to handle transactions, reconciliations, deposits and reporting internally and out of sight. The last thing you want is for bad players to target your business, further hindering your restaurant’s reputation for safety.

Purchase Business Insurance Policies

Business insurance premiums can be costly, but you’ll be happy to have a policy in case of an emergency. Restaurant managers finding ways to thrive in bad areas will especially benefit from property insurance and business interruption insurance. 

Suppose you have to shut down temporarily after someone vandalizes your restaurant. Business interruption insurance helps cover essential operating costs, such as lost revenue, rent or lease payments, loan payments, payroll and taxes. 

Commercial property insurance will cover the damages. Remember, it can take a while to hear back from your insurance company after filing a claim. They must first collect the necessary information and evidence before repairing your establishment. Rest assured, you will receive a notice of intentions within 30 days of filing your claim. If you’re still waiting to hear from your insurance company as you inch closer to the deadline, you should call to ensure you get what you’re eligible for.

Adopt a Unique Selling Proposition

A unique selling proposition (USP) is whatever makes your restaurant stand out among the competition. You can count on customers lining up at your door once they discover your “secret sauce.”

Ask yourself what’s special about your restaurant. Is it your origin story, an innovative menu, a unique business model or catering to a specific diet? Some establishments pride themselves on distinctive menu items, from entrees to beverages. 

Your grandmother’s old-time macaroni and cheese recipe may be a hit with diners, or you could be known for putting an irresistible twist on everyone’s favorite cocktails. Who wants an ordinary strawberry margarita when there’s a cocktail with avocado and jalapeno slices during happy hour?

Pinpoint your USP and use it in all of your marketing. Eventually, customers will realize they can’t get what you have anywhere else. 

Explore Delivery Services

Customers might be hesitant to venture to your restaurant if it’s in a dangerous area or inaccessible — all the more reason to consider delivery options. Since the pandemic, food delivery platforms have become commonplace in the restaurant industry, delivering convenience to patrons above all else.

Consider installing a phone line for customers to call in their orders and adding an online ordering option on your restaurant’s website. Thanks to delivery apps like UberEats and GrubHub, restaurants no longer need to worry about purchasing a fleet of delivery cars. 

Even if your restaurant predominantly caters to take-out and delivery orders, remember customer service and quality assurance count as much as they would for eat-in diners. 

Implement a Loyalty Program

Give customers an incentive to visit your restaurant with a loyalty program. According to a 2022 Deloitte survey, 47% of people use loyalty memberships several times monthly, while 32% do several times weekly. 

Loyalty programs could include a free meal after however many visits or a points system for discounts. Members may also access exclusive menu items, prompting others to sign up.

A restaurant app makes it easy for customers to track their membership rewards and streamlines the process for you. Considering how much time most people spend on their smartphones, an app is also an effective way to disseminate promotional information and upcoming restaurant happenings.

Don’t Let a Bad Area Set Your Restaurant Back

For whatever reason, the perfect location may not be available for you. However, there are ways to boost your chances of success in the restaurant business. Focus on what makes your eatery shine and leverage whatever services and options you can to stand out.

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