How to Run a Restaurant that Competes with Chains and Franchises

customer service independent restaurant restaurant food cost
How to Run a Restaurant that Competes with Chains and Franchises

If you want to know how to run a restaurant that competes with the chains and franchises, buckle up. While it may seem like they have all the advantages and a steady flow of customers, they pay dearly for both of these things. If you want to run a restaurant that competes with chains and franchises but allows you to keep your independence, here are three tips to outshine them and reap the same benefits. Click below to watch the tip or keep scrolling to read the whole thing.

Being an independent restaurant means you miss out on a lot of the advantages chains have – like the support of a corporate office, ready-to-use operations manuals, marketing programs, training tools and formulas to follow. These are huge time savers and drastically decrease the learning curve of owning a restaurant.

On the flip side, as an independent, you have a lot of advantages the chains don’t have. You get to do whatever you want, say whatever you want, hire whomever you want and change whatever you want. This flexibility makes you nimble and able to adapt your operations to compete. 

So how do you compete? Copy their playbook!

The chains are successful and able to suck so much business from the independents because they rely on restaurant systems. Their systems ensure no matter which location you go into for any chain restaurant, you can count on having the same experience. There is no variation to the menu, products or service. You can’t as a chain – everything has to be the same because that’s one of the ways they keep their food cost low.


But one of the major things you can do when it comes to profitability is change your menu, change your food cost. See as an independent restaurant, you’re special because you get to do it exactly how you want to do it. With the right tools you can run a restaurant that competes with the chains and franchises. Here are three tips to get you ahead of your independent competition and on the heels of the chains around you. 

First, offer exceptional customer service, not that cold, sterile, "Hi, my name is." Rather than that robotic opening, have your team try friendly and complementary lines like:

  • "Hey, that's a that's a great hat. Where'd you get that hat?"
  • "That's my favorite team."
  • "Have you been here before?"
  • "Let me tell you a little bit about our restaurant and some of our features."
  • "Let me get you started with a drink order."
  • "Can I offer you up our specialty appetizer? You could split it. It kind of gives you a little time to look over the menu."

Then take the order, start walking away, turn back and go, "Hey, by the way, my name is David. If you need anything, I'm here to help." And all of a sudden. WOW. Wow customer service because you’re actually bonding with the guests first. You’re taking care of them, educating them, taking their order, helping and guiding them through the menu to have a great experience and then ultimately saying, oh, by the way, I'm here. Since you’ve bonded, they’re going to remember your name. They’re going to understand that you’re here to help them. What a difference from "Hi, my name is." That cold, sterile chain restaurant wilts next to the independent where you can bond with the guests. That's exceptional customer service. You can do that. You can get to know your guests by name. You can start to create regulars and really understand who they are and why they come to you on a daily basis. You can distinguish yourself from the anonymity of chains and franchises. You can make your restaurant the friendly choice over the chains and those cold franchise units. 

The second way to run a restaurant that competes with chains and franchises is to offer consistent food that doesn’t come in prepared packages that you throw in a microwave or in a fake bread oven. When you learn how to use systems for service and food prep, you are using the same tools the chains have but with your independent touch. Your restaurant can be the quality choice over any chain or franchise.

And the third way to compete with the chains and franchises and have the same freedom from your restaurant all those big chain and franchise owners have is to train a great, reliable team to help you run your restaurant. You don't have to be in the restaurant all the time to make it successful. You can build a team that runs it how you want it run and make the money and have the freedom to live the life you want. Your restaurant can be the choice employer for top notch restaurant managers, chefs, line cooks and servers.

Start your journey with restaurant systems to ensure every dish is going out to your guests looks and tastes the same every single time, that your staff is friendly and personable and that you have a team in place to execute it all without you there to make sure it’s done right. You'll be on your way to beating the chains at their own game.

If you would like to learn how to own a restaurant that doesn't depend on you to be successful, watch this free video course that teaches you three key principles to running a successful restaurant.

Be sure to visit my YouTube channel for more helpful restaurant management video tips. 

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