Updated 04-29-19. If you're a pho restaurant operator, you know that beating your competition is one of the keys to stay profitable. However, beating the competition is a tricky business. It takes both organized operation behind the counter and superior customer service in front of the counter to beat your competitors.
Here are 5 ways a pho restaurant can beat the competition to stay busy and stay in business:
- Know your customers, what they want and satisfy that want. Knowing your customers is a lot more than getting customers' feedback on what they would like on the menu. If you decide to add that new dish because 4 people request it, or change your recipe based on 3 customers saying your pho broth is too salty, then making such changes is a bad decision. You need to really understand your customer base as a group, before you decide how to correctly meet their needs. A few people making noise is not what your restaurant should operate on, unless they represent the majority of your customers, in which case you have a much bigger problem. But before anything else, serving great tasting and consistently fresh foods will always get you the customers you want.
- Know who your competitors are. Not just other Vietnamese or pho restaurants, but any restaurants attracting the same or similar demographics. Food services in your area all battle for the same lunch, dinner or weekend eat-out dollars. You have to look at it this way: Just because the other guy is selling hamburgers doesn't mean he's not your competitor. You should know all food service businesses around you, and what/how they sell, then you can create a strategy to influence the customer's decision to choose pho over hamburger.
- Learn from your competitors' mistakes. If you pay attention to what your competitors do, again regardless of the food they serve, then you can learn from their best practices as well as their mistakes. There's no reason to copy what your competitors do, but there's real value to avoid repeating their operation and customer service mistakes in your own pho business. These are free and valuable lessons, so make good use of them.
- Know your own numbers. Food costs, labor costs, sales numbers, breakeven points. Know your numbers, understand what they mean, and make changes and improve your operation based on your numbers. This is an often overlooked but critically important step in any restaurant operation, and it's the only way to know how your pho restaurant is doing. Once you become proficient with using your numbers to guide your operation, you can start improving those same numbers, resulting in improved bottom line.
- Use an effective marketing mix. You cannot run a successful pho restaurant without effective marketing. Traditional marketing, 4-wall marketing, online and social channels. You must find an effective mix of marketing strategies that work for your situation and your concept. Continuously test and improve your marketing techniques. But don't be deceived by what you think marketing is and what it means. While this subject deserves its own post, I'll keep it short here with the following: almost all elements of your operation is a part of marketing, including order taking, food presentation, and customer service. In fact, a good rule of thumb is, any thing or activity that is customer-facing is a part of marketing. Pay attention to this and you can't go wrong.
So there you have it, the 5 ways your pho restaurant can beat the competition. Put them into practice, and make them a part of your day-to-day habits of your management team.
But wait! I have one more pho restaurant tip to share with you:
- Keep your menu simple and serve only what you do best. The large menu of hundreds of items of existing Vietnamese and pho restaurants is becoming more and more a thing of the past. Once the "old school" pho operator generation is gone, the new younger generation pho operators and market demand itself will dictate the simplification of pho menus. Already happening are a new crop of pho operators with creative, simple and delicious Vietnamese menu without a hundred items on it. I believe this development and trend will continue, and all new pho restaurants can do themselves a big favor by starting out with this.
Of course running a successful pho restaurant is a lot more than just those steps mentioned above. But everything else being equal, and assuming that an owner is serious about running her pho restaurant properly, these tips will give the operator a huge advantage over the competition.
The bottom line is, if you focus on these things and become proficient and efficient in doing them, then you would have taken care of the 20-80 principle (20% of effort giving 80% of result) for your pho restaurant business. Most importantly, once you've learned how to focus on these critical areas, you'll be more prepared, and highly motivated, to identify on your own the next 5 critical things to tighten up to take your business to the next level.
Have a question or comment? Please leave them in the comment section below and I'll provide some answers for you.