- Value isn’t just about the price you pay – it’s what you get for the money you spend. Too often people see the word value and immediately flip into pricing and discount promotion discussions. While these can sometimes help, some of the brands we’ve seen hardly play this game at all; instead, they focus on delivering great experiences while being reasonably cost competitive.
- Value alone rarely creates a truly loyal guest. If your restaurant has high value scores, but little else going for it, it’s unlikely guests are truly loyal. Instead, they are just sticking with you until something better comes along.
Keep it consistent and responsive: Build brand trust
The next stage of building the relationship comes down to establishing trust. While marketing can play a role, this is where operations does most of the heavy lifting – making sure the guest can expect and rely on a consistently great experience when they visit, and that they feel the restaurant cares enough to deal with any issues that may come up. Again, think of it like an evolving relationship. Trust takes time to build, and it’s not uncommon to find the person you thought you knew was actually someone quite different once they let their guard down (and perhaps stopped trying so hard). Can you deliver consistently over time?
Tie it all together: Create brand love
If your guests are excited to come to your restaurant, believe that you offer great value, and trust that you will deliver on their expectations, then you’ve set the foundation for creating “brand love” – a base from which you are well positioned to become their favourite restaurant. While a restaurant obviously has to be firing on all cylinders to achieve brand love, marketing plays a crucial role to create that emotional connection with guests. And, as in any strong relationship, it’s important to keep the marketing messages and similar lines of communication open.
Sustain it: Keep the spark alive
Marriages fail all the time. In some cases, it’s a quick and dramatic breach of trust – perhaps akin to having a surly server bring out cold food late to a loyal guest’s birthday party. But a more interesting analogy is when they fizzle out over time, because couples stop making the extra effort. And this can happen with restaurants. They become established, take their guests for granted, and might stop trying to “wow” them. That’s why it’s so critical to spice it up a little sometimes – whether it be an exciting new menu item, or a server doing that extra special thing to remind the guest why they fell in love with you in the first place.
About the author
Denis Hancock is Director of Consumer Insights at BrandSpark International, a leading brand, marketing, and product innovation research company with over 10 years experience in the restaurant industry.