Hospitality is a tough business, as any Restaurant or Café advisor will tell you. Everyone knows this, yet everyone looking to get into it also ignores it.

It is a fact that opening a Restaurant or Cafe could be one of the worst investments you could make. That’s a big statement coming from someone who works in a Hospitality Consulting. I’m afraid it is the truth. Most restaurants fail.

You might ask then why anyone would want to be in such a business with such a high failure rate. Answer- The rewards, when executed correctly. Just like any other high-risk investment, the rewards are high. If you manage to get the formula correct and open the right kind of restaurant in the right location you could see higher than average profits, some of the more successful establishments, exceeding profits of 30% on sales. This could mean you can pay off your investment quickly and have lots of residual cash flow.

What is this magic formula you might ask? Unfortunately there is no clear answer to that question. Some highly experienced business people struggle in this unique industry and some very talented chefs have also failed due to a complete negligence to understand even the basics of business.

Simply put: Food is just like any other commodity. You buy or produce at a certain price, you then add your touch or not and sell at hopefully, a higher price, allowing for all your expenses in between. And I mean ‘all’ your expenses. Quantifying them, now that’s not so simple. (Refer to my costing blog)

There are many reasons for such a high failure rate in this equation. This blog will concentrate on one. Uniqueness, Or lack of.

You need to provide your customers with a reason to come to you and not spend their hard earned cash with someone else. Your claim to great food great service is not unique. Every other restaurant or cafe owner will make the same claim. Of course great food and service is very important but what will truly allow you to stand out from the rest is to tap into emotion.

50% of every buying decision is driven by emotion.

Think Mercedes, stands for affluence/pride. L’Oreal ageing cream, stands for hope/happiness. Jenny Craig, stands for health/fear. All strengthened by emotional connections.

If you make an emotional connection with your customers you will be remembered long after the pleasures of taste or efficiency. To create nostalgia or be remembered as very accommodating or nurturing, you will create an emotional connection. Your food and service can support a unique selling point, they just will not be the unique selling point.

No product can help to build a meaningful connection without looking at three aspects.

1) Who? It isn’t just enough to pick a demographic of let’s say 18 to 49 years of age. To emphasise such diversity, this could include, people who have never had sex but also people who could be grandparents. Judging on an emotional front as well as practically, their views about what they eat and the effects it has on their wellbeing are worlds apart.

2) Why? Why will your customer care about your product? It is not enough to announce your hero shots. You must be explaining, or better still demonstrating the effects and the value of your product to your customer. Without showing, you’re just talking to your graphic artist.

3) How? How can range from, how does it work, to how does it compare to your competitors. Your customers will often establish a relationship with you by relating it to something they already know.

Lastly, (I cover this in greater detail in my image blog)

Are you effectively communicating your products personality and benefits through your choice of imagery and have you provided a strong enough environment to create an understanding and connection with your customer?

In today’s world, visual perfection has become the norm.

We can go deeper in detail and show the effects theatrics could play in your food offer but for now we at least we can plant the seed so you can determine what it is you truly want to be known for. And how you can create an emotional connection with longevity.

At Copper Pantry Restaurant and Café Consulting, my aim is to teach you from the mistakes I have made. Please check out my other blogs and drop me a line if you have any queries. Good Luck.

Best Dishes

Sean McBride

sean@copperpantry.com.au