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How To Shift Restaurant Specialties and Venues

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A restaurant owner smiles and poses with an employee, who is holding a sign that reads “open.”
Change is one of the most natural aspects of building a successful business. If you are bringing new changes to your business in the food industry, you may be uncertain about the best ways to approach them.  There are many different reasons for a business to shift specialties and change venues, including a change in your focus cuisine or your business model, such as a shift to catering or retail. You may be striving for a bigger community presence or more resilience in a volatile industry No matter the reason for the change, there are steps you can take to help increase the success of your new specialty or venue right from the start. 

Tips for Shifting Specialties

Shifting specialties in your restaurant can be a daunting task.  However, incentivizing your customers to try your new items, increasing your marketing efforts, and practicing new specials with your staff can increase your chances of success. 

Incentivize Trying the New Items

You’ve created a menu full of exciting new items—but you may be wondering how you’ll get your customers to try them.  One strategy is to incentivize trying the new items. Some incentives include: 
  • Offering samples of new menu items, or one free item per table on the first day.  
  • Discounting the new menu items, or a small selection of the new menu items for a short period of time after they are introduced. 
  • Offering discounts for large groups who purchase the new menu items.  
These incentives, when offered in conjunction with the arrival of new items, can motivate customers to try out new favorites that may be more satisfying as opposed to their tried-and-true favorites.  You can also use incentives if you’re opening business operations, such as the addition of a food truck. For example, you can offer customers a discount in your restaurant if they show a receipt from your new food truck. 

Increase Marketing Efforts

If you are shifting your specialty, you’ll also need to shift your marketing efforts. You’ll need to introduce your community to the new-and-improved version of your business.  You can showcase new items, highlight the work of your staff members, and spread the word about new locations and ventures. These marketing efforts can include local newspaper and television ads, as well as social media posts targeted toward your key demographics.  

Practice New Specials With Staff

Before you debut your new menu items to the public, you first need to work with your staff. During the development process, you can include staff by: 
  • Asking for input and suggestions for new items throughout the initial creative brainstorming process. 
  • Inviting your staff to sample the new menu items and learn about the ingredients and process. 
  • Training each staff member on the creation of each item so that they are prepared for the items to be included on the menu. 
Taking your time in practicing your new menu items and specials with your staff will ensure that your customers have an amazing experience in your restaurant once the new menu is launched. 

Tips for Shifting Venues

Shifting your venue often means a complete shift in how you run your business. You may be shifting from a food truck to an online store or from a brick-and-mortar restaurant to a farmer’s market stand.  No matter the type of venue change, it is important to communicate clearly, advertise early, update your information online, and make sure you’re covered by insurance. 

Communicate Clearly

When shifting venues, communication is key. When communicating with staff during the transition, some important considerations include: 
  • Scheduling: If your employees’ work schedules will be changing with the new venue, detail these changes in writing and set aside time to speak with employees who have questions. 
  • Location: Make sure each employee is aware of the new address and can find their way there. 
  • Expectations: If you are shifting from a brick-and-mortar location to a catering business, expectations may be different — particularly those regarding personal transportation and clothing. 
  • Professional development: If the shifting venue requires further training, inform all employees of the training dates and the new skills they will be taught. 
You will also need to communicate clearly with your customers. You are changing location, and possibly changing the way your business operates. With all of these changes, you’ll need to communicate the following to your clientele: 
  • Location: Share your new location on all social media and update search engines and local directories. 
  • Pricing: Your pricing may be shifting along with your location. Share this information with your customers. 
  • Goods and services: Any new goods or services being offered should be outlined on your website and social media. 
  • Changing policies: If you are changing any policies, such as gift certificates or group rates, outline these changes in writing. 
Communicating clearly with your customers and staff will help you to smoothly move to a new venue with minimal disruption and confusion. 

Advertise Early

Don’t wait until your new location’s opening day to start advertising. One way to improve your new venue’s chances of success is to let people know that your new location is in the works.  You can begin advertising your new venue up to 90 days before the grand opening. This gives you the chance to build up to the opening, increasing public awareness and interest over time. Some options for advertising include: 
  • Digital advertising: Purchasing advertising space on websites you know your local community and target market are visiting can increase your brand visibility. 
  • Local ads: Flyers, posters, and events in your local community are a great way to increase interest in your new venue. 
  • Social media: Targeted social media ads can directly reach your community and give them a more up-close and personal look into your business. 
The goal of all of your advertising efforts should be to encourage one action: come visit this restaurant. 

Update Online Information

Once you’ve opened your new location, you’ll need to update your information online. Some places to look when updating your information include: 
  • Google: Your address on Google Maps should be updated to reflect your new location. 
  • Social media: Changing your address and phone number on all social media accounts is essential. This includes Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, and others.  
  • Local directories: Any local business directories should be updated to reflect your new number and address. You may need to reach out to your local chamber of commerce. 
Changing this information promptly can help you to avoid any confusion from your customers as you work to build your shifting business. 

Make Sure You’re Covered

If you are shifting locations, you may also need to change your insurance coverage. Those operating a catering business or selling at a farmers market stand need different coverage than a brick-and-mortar store.  Depending on the type of business you operate, you’ll need different types of coverage, including general liability insurance and damage to premises rented insurance.  Whether you are trying to develop a new menu or finding insurance for your new location, taking these steps can increase your restaurant’s chances of success
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