It’s Time to Stake Out Your Turf

When you started selling drinks at your restaurant, you (hopefully) assessed your competition to price yourself properly, to offer enticing specials and signature drinks, and to understand what was working and failing for your competitors. You built your drinks offerings around those and hey, you’ve been successful! Give yourself a pat on the back for all your hard work… because now it’s time to do more hard work. Today is the day you really start establishing your “turf.”

The hard truth you have to hear

I’m sorry to have to tell you this, but your restaurant has been running with a gang. Whether your restaurant runs with the Sharks or the Jets is something I can’t tell you, but Daddy-o, if you don’t talk to your restaurant soon, there are going to be some tough rumbles going on near you. Those rumbles won’t just be in your neighborhood either, and it won’t be with your rival gangs either—there is some serious in-fighting happening in your restaurant’s gang. This makes your restaurant’s turf so much more complicated than just the boundaries of a neighborhood. Your restaurant’s turf is where it defines its very survival.

It’s time for an intervention

You want to avoid this rumble. After all, your restaurant requires a lot of care and attention from you, so if this rumble is really hardcore, your restaurant might not make it. I don’t want your restaurant to lose an important fight, and I don’t want your restaurant to lose face with the other gang members, so tonight’s the night. You need to make a power move before the other restaurants in your gang start plotting. You need to define your turf.

How to define your restaurant’s turf

Restaurants, and yours in particular, have a complicated turf. Location is part of it. Cuisine is part of it. Drink offerings are part of it. Price is part of it, and ambiance is part of it, too. The bad news is that defining your turf is going to take some effort on your part, but the good news is that there is no better time to start than right now.

When you start defining your restaurant’s turf, you need to identify a lot of ways that you can compare your restaurant to all the others in the gang. In other words, before you know how powerful your restaurant is, you need to first figure out your restaurant’s true strengths. You’ll want to come up with a healthy list of strengths, try to aim for thirty. Some ideas to get you started thinking in the right direction are:

  • What type of drinks do you offer?
  • What’s your price range?
  • What are your hours?
  • What other types of restaurants and bars are around you?
  • Who are your customers?
  • What type of overall experience do you offer? (luxury, easygoing, etc.)

What gang is your restaurant a part of?

After you’ve created (and answered) your turf-defining questions, you’ll finally be able to identify all of your restaurant’s rivals, even if they’re trying to be sneaky and pretend they don’t want to fight you. Perhaps your restaurant is part of the Family-Restaurant-with-Big-Name-Beers gang. What about the Swanky-Vintage-Cocktails-with-Tapas gang? (I like that gang. They’re cool.) Maybe your restaurant is a scrapper: it’s part of the Microbrewery gang. Once you figure out which gang your restaurant runs with, you can figure out some crucial information: how to become king.

Make your restaurant the king

For your restaurant to become the undisputed ruler of its gang turf, your restaurant needs to school all its rivals. First step: identify your rivals’ strengths. Second step: exploit them.

To identify your restaurant’s rivals’ strengths, you’ll simply go through and carefully answer the questions you developed earlier… but you’ll answer them as if you were one of the rivals. When you’re done, you can analyze the results. Are rival gang members better chefs than you? Do they have better hours? Do they offer really great live music? Figure out what they have that your restaurant doesn’t. Then, use their strengths against them. Train your restaurant to what they do… but better.

You can win this war.

Photo licensed by Roberto