The Independent Edge

The Independent Edge

“In the US, we eat or serve one billion meals a day, and more than half of those are eaten outside the home…that’s a lot of opportunity waiting out there for restaurants, especially the independent ones.”

At the National Restaurant Association conference, USA Today’s Small Business columnist Rhonda Abrams pointed out that the independent restaurant owner has a unique edge in an industry where local cuisines and personalized dining experiences are key differentiators. “Few worlds are changing as much as the world of food, from competition to where people choose to eat - food trucks, pop up restaurants, movie theatres, farm dinners are all redefining the space. But for those who embrace change and become innovators, it’s a great time to be in this business. The shop and dine local movement is strong and positions you well for growth.”

Using notable findings from the latest American Express Restaurant Trade Survey, Abrams shared insights into the growing influence of apps and social media. “Millennials are leading the charge to blend the convenience of technology with socially conscious trends like food waste reduction and locally-sourced ingredients. They’re also more likely than any other generation to order take-out using a mobile app or website.”

Tap into the opportunity:

  • Order, shoot, post, eat, repeat. Nearly three-quarters of Millennials use social media to share their restaurant experience, and Abrams told attendees to encourage their customers to do so, with selfie stations and promos that reward diners for posting on sites like Instagram.
  • Take advantage of the free sites that raise you on search engines, helping diners find you online. List your restaurant on Citysearch, Merchant Circle, Yelp, Google my Business, Manta and local.com.
  • Consider paid promotions on Facebook. “You can target exactly the kind of customer you want to be in front of and reach them with interactive ads. For instance, Lou Malnati’s ‘order now’ or ‘call now’ buttons on their Facebook ads enable customers to contact the restaurant directly and immediately, a real sales booster.”

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