By Judy Henderson
By now your renovated restaurant is no longer just a dream and is getting close to becoming a reality. As the final touches are being completed, now is the time to make sure your relaunch plans are set for success.
Since my expertise is design, I’ve asked my communications guy, Michael Ford, owner of Vancouver’s Detail Communications, for a few words of wisdom.
According to Michael, “Communications isn’t rocket science. You simply have to figure out who you’re talking to (audiences) and what you want to say (key messages), then talk to them in a way that truly reflects who you (your brand) are. Then, stop talking and listen.”
In my opinion (shared by Michael), if you’re going to the trouble of renovating your restaurant, it’s a good opportunity to rename it, too. Really, the time to think about this is at the beginning of the process. That way, the design will reflect the new name and colours.
Regardless of your decision to rename or not, the key to a successful relaunch is keeping your existing customers, staff and suppliers in the loop throughout the design and construction stage. You want them to be eager for the doors to be flung open again so they can eat, work and deliver just as they did before.
Michael’s advice here is clear: get your key messages together. Figure out what’s changed. Italiano Ristorante becomes European Kitchen. Smaller plates and a bigger, more social bar. Pick the top three or four changes and turn them into your key messages. It’s these key messages that are repeated in all your communications with stakeholders, customers, staff, suppliers and beyond.
The real task here, however, is to widen your reach and open up your new space to new faces and wallets. If you followed my advice in the planning stage and took some time to see how the market and demographics (age/income/tastes) are changing, and in what direction, then your next steps should be clear.
While the construction is underway and you’ve nothing to do (just kidding) take some time to expand your audience. One way is to follow potential customers on social media. Search for hashtags like #restaurants #greateats or #goodfood. Find the “influencers” in your market and engage with them.
Also consider partners that complement your brand. If you’re a healthy lunch spot, partner with local gyms or yoga studios – hold a contest like a member draw for a free lunch – and collect the email addresses. Don’t spam – get your new market to opt-in to your email list.
Find bloggers that look to review new spaces and invite them for a tour – a little goes a long way. Don’t forget the local press – a media prelaunch party with some key customers, done well, can propel a new spot into being the spot!
About the author:
Judy Henderson is the owner of Inside Design, a Vancouver firm that focuses on modern hospitality design. Based in Vancouver, B.C. with a list of global clients including; Hilton, Western and Coast Hotels. Inside Design has an experienced team with a reputation for innovative design and precise project management.