How Small Restaurants Can Compete With Big Chains

There are hundreds of restaurants around the globe with name recognition. These chain locations are multi-million dollar companies that customers frequent because they are familiar with. It can seem intimidating to open a small restaurant when you know you'll be competing with these established chains, but you have something the big chains don't have. You have charm, passion, quality, and many other amazing benefits for your community.


Don't be discouraged from opening your own restaurant because of the big chains. There are ways you can thrive as a restaurant owner and make special connections with your customers that these large restaurants can't. It will take some creative planning and perseverance, but with the right tools and integration strategies, you can thrive within the hospitality industry, even as a small restaurant. Here are just a few ideas to help your small restaurant succeed even when competing against big chains.


Stay available across multiple platforms.

The restaurant industry is so much more than just welcoming people into your dining room. From reservations to pickup orders to catering, you've got a lot of avenues for business opportunities. The key to maintaining your business is to make your food and menu items readily available. This means promoting your delivery orders and takeout options as much as you promote dine-in.


There are several ways to encourage online ordering outside of your own website. Thanks to ordering mobile apps, customers can easily order from many vendors in one location. Restaurants of all sizes have ordering available on GrubHub, ChowNow, DoorDash, Uber Eats, and more. As a small restaurant with limited POS capabilities, it may be intimidating to handle all those orders. That is where Cuboh can help. Cuboh offers POS integration where all your ordering information from third-party delivery apps is combined in one tablet. This helps you easily handle different online ordering systems while getting hot and ready food out to the customers every time. Keep up with the bigger restaurants by offering delivery and delivering great products every time.


Create a stellar, unique menu.

Chain restaurants all have the same or similar menus. In a way, this is why people enjoy them. They know what they like and can takeaway the same food every time. However, the menus are often fairly boring and bland. There's not much room for creativity or uniqueness. As a small restaurant, you can take advantage of the chance you have to experiment and offer a custom order. You want your diners to be impressed and have their tastebuds re-awoken. While chains may have a higher quantity of locations, you can make the quality of your restaurant unforgettable. When you focus on creating that stellar, unique menu, people will start flocking to the doors to get a bite.


Make personal connections with your community.

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Oftentimes the smaller restaurants and the mom-and-pop shops offer a greater opportunity to connect with the community. Where large chains have corporate ownership and different rules and regulations, you get to focus on your community. Rather than rushing people out the door, you can sit down and offer direct customer support. You can host birthday parties or game nights with a much more personal touch than a large corporation can offer. When customers get one-on-one interactions with owners and staff members, it fosters customer loyalty and shows them that they are important to you.


Come up with creative marketing tactics.

You may not have the big-budget marketing companies and ads on TV during Sunday football games, so you need to develop other creative ways to market your restaurant. Focus your efforts on your local community. Drive a food truck to the farmer's market on Saturday mornings and pass out coupons. Sponsor a baseball team to get your name on the jerseys, then offer discounts to the players—partner with the local theatre to offer a promotion for dinner and a show with included table reservations. You don't need fancy billboards or add-on newspaper clippings to get people into the door. Aim to expand your customer retention in different, creative ways.


Don't forget to build an online presence.

While you won't have as expansive an online presence or social media following as some big chains, it's important to have a digital platform for your restaurant still. Be sure you're on the map with accurate web info, contact details, and the correct hours. Bringing in new customers means providing information they can easily find. Have a Facebook page, update your restaurant website regularly, and maybe even consider a mobile application. The 21st century is all about the digital world, so be sure you're keeping up by maintaining your own little corner of the internet.


Start with a strong business plan.

Many chain restaurants are merely another store in a large franchise. This means they have an exact business plan to help them hit their bottom line. As a smaller restaurant, you don't have that luxury. You are building a business plan from scratch. Be sure you have a great plan in place for every aspect of running your restaurant to set yourself up for success. From a reservation system to affording food costs to inventory management, have systems in place to help you handle the ins and outs of running a successful restaurant.


Remember the importance of word-of-mouth advertising.

As a local restaurant, you are important to the overall community. Be sure you're always fostering great customer relationships because word-of-mouth advertising will be one of the key features in getting you new customers. You want to create great experiences that your guests can't wait to share with their friends. Positive reviews can make a huge difference and help spread the word about your restaurant.


Become a fun, good place to work.

Big chain restaurants can often deal with high turnover rates for employees. Because of corporate rules and regulations or even bad management, these locations spend time, energy, and money when they constantly have to hire staff. Creating a happy work environment will help you compete. By creating a true team that works hard and enjoys their time at the restaurant, you are building something extraordinary

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