As the restaurant industry continues to evolve, it will be more important for organizations to prioritize their restaurant brand strategy to meet customer preferences and differentiate themselves from the competition.
We all know how tough 2020 has been for the restaurant industry. The following year saw some improvements, but many restaurants continued to struggle – especially smaller establishments and those without a national footprint. As a result, restaurants have pivoted to meet consumers where they are: with online ordering, mobile order pickup, home delivery, and more. These same services continue today and will continue for the foreseeable future as the world continues to emerge from a complex couple of years.
Although there is greater flexibility today than two years ago, the restaurant industry is and has faced additional challenges. These include well-documented labor and supply chain issues. A common solution is to leverage greater technology to better understand customer preferences, behaviors and patterns to optimize menu options as well as facility operations. Over the past two years, many restaurants have also relied on shadow kitchens (offsite food preparation) to help them cope with the increased demand for online and mobile order pick-up and delivery. .
But with demand still higher than ever according to the National Restaurant Association’s Restaurant Performance Index (RPI), restaurant brands are looking to optimize their existing spaces to better meet long-term consumer preferences. These include updating existing spaces to create separate pick-up areas for delivery drivers and mobile orders, optimizing car parks for consumer traffic, and exploring or expanding drive-thru services. .
Much like the wider hospitality industry, nationwide foodservice organizations are looking closely at their restaurant branding to ensure it aligns with where they are in their journey. Hotels and convenience stores coast to coast are updating their image both conceptually and physically to better engage customers and capitalize on their positions in their daily lives, and it’s time for restaurants to do the same. According to data from OpenTable’s ongoing restaurant industry survey, the number of diners seated in restaurants is up and growing.
Here, we’ll explore three areas your restaurant brand strategy should focus on to ensure your brand continues to grow while engaging consumers on their terms.
At the service of the success of the brand: Learn about Stratus’ capabilities for the food service industry.
1. Revitalize the dining experience
When was the last time your restaurant interiors were loved? While the hospitality industry goes through cycles when it comes to major overhauls, you don’t have to wait seven to ten years to spruce up your facilities. Taking a priority approach for locations that haven’t had updates in a while is also a good first step. A quick program of indoor refreshments might be all you need to give your customers a delightful new experience.
Updates, as opposed to renovations and major renovations, are lighter programs with updates that do not require long periods of work or major construction or demolition. They are carried out quickly, generally between one and five days per restaurant. Here are some examples of what a restaurant refresh involves:
- Painting and decorating, updating doors and moldings and replacing flooring
- Assembly and installation of light fixtures and minor electrical work, such as new lighting
- Update or install new interior signage, wayfinding signage or graphics
Learn more about refreshes and how Stratus executes them efficiently.
2. Rethink order picking and drive-thru
Over the past two years, collecting online and mobile orders has saved the restaurant industry. Today, consumers have grown accustomed to this method of engagement and expect it to continue. This means that restaurant brands must have solutions to serve this channel. Do your locations have designated mobile order pickup areas? Equally important: are these spaces welcoming, marked and attractive? Many brands simply install a sign on a specific area or require staff located where the hospitality booths are to handle mobile orders.
Proactive brands, on the other hand, have created new areas or revitalized existing spaces that have been optimized for more frequent traffic and service, without impacting sit-down diners. Likewise, proactive brands have completely re-optimized their drive-thru and outdoor menu boards to track, engage, serve and channel customers more effectively. Investing in these areas as part of a restaurant brand strategy can also pay significant dividends. Here are some helpful resources and additional information on this area:
3. Rethink your overall image
An organization’s overall brand is critical to how customers perceive it and interact with it. This applies as much to the physical aspects of branding as it does to the conceptual and emotional aspects. Things like outdoor signage, building exteriors, parking lot conditions, parking lot and exterior lighting, etc., all influence consumer opinion of your locations.
If you’re a high-end establishment, but the exterior of your building is cracked and weathered, your customers are going to experience some cognitive dissonance. If your signage is outdated, poorly lit, flickering, or simply outdated, it could signal to the customer that the brand doesn’t care about its appearance or that it may be in trouble. If your outdoor lighting makes customers feel unsafe, or if it’s outdated and hard on the eyes, the customer experience is affected. And for every location that experiences these issues, you lose even more customers.
Ensuring the clean and functional design and condition of your buildings, signage and lighting systems goes a long way to creating a welcoming image and an inviting space for customers. We all know the impact a negative review can have, so prioritize these elements in your restaurant’s brand strategy to continue earning those high ratings.
Don’t leave your restaurant branding to chance
Stratus has partnered with some of the largest and most recognized restaurant brands in the world. Our team has been entrusted, year after year, with everything from signage solutions and maintenance services to comprehensive multi-site renovation programs. Above all else, we are brand focused – delivering excellence for both interior and exterior brand assets while managing all aspects of the program from start to finish. We manufacture signage, manage a network of over 4,000 field partners nationwide, handle all logistics and warehousing, and even provide efficient final installation for every branded element in your program.
If you are ready to ensure the success and strength of your restaurant brand for the road ahead, contact our team today.