We are not going to lie to you: It is actually quite hard to stand out from the crowd. In this blog post, we will help you get started. First of all, you need to find your unique selling proposition, your USP.
Don’t worry – you don’t have to rethink your concept or change the product portfolio. But you do need to consider in what way you want to provide superior value to your customers and boost your profitability.
5 ways to differentiate your business
You can get closer to your USP by focusing on ways to differentiate your business. Here are some examples on how to do so.
1) Product differentiation
This is the most visible way of differentiating and often involves psychical and perceived distinctions. It can be the bread in which you serve your sandwich that is made in a certain way or with special ingredients. It could also be other features such as time-limited offers or products for special occasions that require special food, such as seasonal changes, national holidays or awareness day. Ask yourself what the customers would like. E.g. if you offer a kit with picnic food, make sure it includes a blanket and napkins.
2) Service differentiation
It’s often hard to compete with products and prices, but a high service level is a valuable competitive advantage when you want to stand out from the crowd. Train your staff to be polite – but also ready for the lunch rush hour. Not only is it important that your customers feel welcomed and met by an honest desire to help, they also expect a certain level of efficiency. Keep in mind that the main appeal of quick-service-restaurant is effectiveness and low cost. You could also consider offering a guaranteed maximum waiting time.
3) Relationship differentiation
Relationships sell everything, so make sure to build a strong customer relationship. Not only by attracting new customers, but also by making sure to retain and nurture loyal customers. Regulars love that you know their name and their preferred sandwich. It will make them feel appreciated. This requires good service, a personal touch, and maybe some of loyalty program or similar encourage them to keep coming back – such as personal discount cards, free drinks or punch cards where customers get something for free after a certain number of purchases. Remember: Keeping customer happy is more effective than attracting new customers. And word of mouth is one of the best ways to gain traction to your business.
4) Reputation & image differentiation
Even though it can be a relentless battle, the reputation of being on-trend is a good way of differentiating yourself. Offering the latest fashion within the food industry will create natural attention and give you an image of being a first mover. This calls for a flexible menu and colleagues that are always on the lookout for new inspiration. You could also use this strategy in another way – and differentiate your business on superior product quality or performance. No matter what you choose, be aware that this often requires substantial effort in terms of advertising and communicating your uniqueness.
5) Price differentiation
If you want to compete on the price, keep in mind that the perception of what is expensive and what’s not is highly subjective – and every customer has a different price that they are willing to pay for your product. It is tempting to compete on the price, but since it is not easy to have different prices for different segments, this might not be a way for you to maximize your potential revenue. What you can do, though, is to offer discount for students or differentiate the prices by quantity, thereby attracting people working in offices or bigger groups.
Not all differentiation strategies are equally effective for your restaurants. Some methods are more important to invest in than others, and you will need test one at a time to find out, what fits your business in order to stand out from the competition.