One of the keys to success in any business is standing out amongst the competition––at your restaurant, make customers feel like they can’t get the same dining experience anywhere else. For some, this might mean having unique decor or a noteworthy theme. For others, this means taking a direct approach with consumers to offer them exactly what they want. Whether you’re a one-of-a-kind boutique restaurant or a mass-market chain, there are creative ways to specialize in the dining experience and make customers feel valued. 

Deals, deals, deals!

There’s nothing more fun than an alliterative discount like Wendy’s “4 for $4” menu or KFC’s “$6 Mix ‘n’ Match.” Customers are attracted to the whimsical nature of the name, which sweetens the deal regardless of the quality of the food. Meanwhile, getting a chance to try multiple items on the menu for a low price opens up options for adventurous eaters who don’t want to splurge. Who knows––maybe your next customer will find their favorite menu item and become a regular.

Be a jukebox hero

Get some groovy tunes! Though listening to good music is rarely a criterion people look for when heading out to eat, it’s a subtlety that could make or break a meal. It’s often overlooked, but background noise has the potential to subconsciously improve one’s mood––and thus leave you with a more satisfying memory of your food. Don’t forget to be aware of your audience: if you are a restaurant trying to bring in a younger audience, create a playlist that includes popular, hip music trends. For all, beware of overly loud or harsh music that is likely to overtake the conversation. However, if customers find themselves grooving along while eating, it is a guarantee for a good review of their dining experience.

BYOB: Bring Your Own Beverage

There’s nothing more personal than a bottle of fine wine from your home collection. Likewise, for the whiskey lover who wants to bring their favorite bottle to a nice dinner, a BYOB restaurant may be their best option. While many folks celebrate by trading their kitchen aprons for a night on the town, some are reluctant to give up their first choice drink––which, for a true connoisseur, may be hard to find at every restaurant.

Boost your birthday game

We’ve all felt the embarrassment of ten waiters surrounding your table, clapping and chanting birthday songs while the entire restaurant looks on. While their efforts should not be taken for granted, try offering a more personalized––and less publicized––birthday honor. If a guest chooses to spend their birthday at your establishment, show your appreciation and originality by coming up with unique ways to celebrate your customers on their special day. Perhaps take them on a quick tour of the kitchen, or let them choose an appetizer on the house. There’s nothing wrong with a single candle atop a scoop of ice cream, but if your restaurant has the resources, there are more exciting ways to make your guest feel valued on their birthday.

Know your guests

While it’s definitely possible to create a personalized experience for all your customers, pay attention to the regulars. A little business intelligence goes a long way––make sure you know loyal customers’ names, a personal detail or two, or their go-to orders. If a customer feels taken care of by restaurant management, the chance that they will come back is exponentially higher. Creating lasting relationships between shareholders is a keystone of a successful business.

There are countless creative ways to make your restaurant more enticing to each customer. By listening to what your patrons want, you can better address their preferences to keep them coming back. Of course, being true to the character of your restaurant is equally as important––don’t feel like you must give up your values while catering to individual whims. Rather, you can build stronger brand identity by offering original, specialized dining experiences that will let you shine amongst the competition.