Richard Dirstein discusses how to create a sense of community in your restaurant.
What are the five things that you can do to create a sense of place in your restaurant? First of all, cater to Millennials. Millennials love to share great experiences through their social networks. So how can you create great plating, great tastes, great decor, great interior environment, process, message, structure that really makes people want to share this great experience that they’ve had?
Also, how do you allow them to have it be local and authentic, to make them feel that, “This is nuanced to me and my neighborhood, and not something that the rest of the country is getting?” Again, consistent experience, but locally nuanced for each individual market. Also, give them the opportunity to pay and interact with you in a way that they want to. Let them walk up to the counter and order, or let them order on their watch or their phone. Let them pay with cash or Visa at a counter, or let them pay digitally through a mobile device, a tablet, or a watch.
The next point is make sure that you tell a unique brand story. Again, your value proposition is your most valuable tool. How does that live in your restaurant? What do you stand for? What will you socially endorse? What will you stand behind, as far as charity? Customers want to know. They want to believe, and they will share in that pride that you have on how do you invest and give back to the community. Again, how do you tell a unique brand story? Is there something in the materials and the finishes that engrosses the customer, that brings them in? Is it something that’s tactile? Is it a smell? Quality of ingredients?
Again, I talked earlier about being socially responsible. Point 3 is be socially responsible. Be proud of that story and your commitment to that cause. Customers and Millennials want to have a reason to believe, and they want to believe and most likely are believing in what you’re already backing. Also, make your experiences appetizing, not just the food appetizing. When you come in and there’s great lighting and great seating, and a great environment that truly helps you escape the outside world and really have that immersive, deep experience with your product and your offering, customers will return and again want to share.
Finally, create badge value. Again, I talk to Starbucks a lot in terms of what they’ve been able to do right. Starbucks does a great job of leveraging the cup experience, and leveraging it as badge value. You can have a bad day, and as a premium coffee offering, you feel pretty proud when you hold that cup up to the public and say, “This is a $5 drink I’m partaking in right now.” How can you create that same kind of stickiness in terms of badge value around your product?
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