There are few industries more competitive than the restaurant business. We’ve all heard the statistics about the large percentage of restaurants that fail in the first year. But if you’re reading this, you’re probably not part of that group. You’re still around because you have something that consumers want, and you’re making it work. The trouble is that competitive advantage in the restaurant industry is public knowledge – if you want to find out what guests are getting from your competitor that they’re not getting from you, you just have to show up to your competitor’s location and sit down at a table.

Fortunately, not everything about competition in the restaurant industry is so easy to recognize and replicate. The strongest competitive advantage you have comes not from what you offer, but how you connect with the people around you.

Employees as a Competitive Advantage

Your employees are the face of your company. The culture you create internally becomes a reflection of the culture your guests experience while at your restaurant. Keeping a full and happy staff starts with engagement. When employees are engaged, they’re more loyal. When employees buy in to your restaurant’s mission and vision, they see your success as their success, too. The stronger your connection to employees, the stronger their connection to guests.

Guest Loyalty as a Competitive Advantage

For a restaurant’s competitive advantage to be sustainable, it must be difficult for competitors to imitate and achieve. What’s more unique to you than you? How you work the room on every shift, reach out to regulars, and get involved in your community is something your competitors simply cannot replicate.  It’s about changing the idea of “service” into the concept of “serve-us.” When you create a unique experience for your guests just in the way you treat them, you’re offering something your competition is not.

Vendor Relations as a Competitive Advantage

From your liquor distributor to your training provider, vendors rely on your success for their own profitability. When you do well, they do well, and vice versa. You probably already have many vendors wanting to help you with marketing promotions, but you need to lean on them for more. Vendors often have access to industry trends and innovative ideas they see through their other clients. When you develop strong relationships with vendors based on trust and respect, they’ll share the wealth of their knowledge.

Get More Restaurant Management Tips

The restaurant management section of our blog is dedicated to helping you meet your leadership goals. Check it out!