Being Different Than The Competition

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Being Different Than The Competition

“Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower” Steve Jobs

To be a leader in your industry, you must be an innovator. You have to always be raising the bar so everyone else is always trying to catch up to you. It is the same in the restaurant industry.

How are you going to be different than your competition? Is it going to be customer service, your food, how you deliver it? What is it going to be?


For instance, have you ever heard of the pizza shop called “The Slice of The 80’s?” It was established in 2008 in Westland Michigan. They hold true to their name. The inside of their restaurant is completely decorated with 80’s themed posters and arcade games. They were featured in an issue of PMQ magazine with 3 brightly wrapped cars that look like they are straight out of the 80’s. Vehicle wrapping is one of my favorite kinds of advertising. It cost about a 1/3 of the cost of a billboard and last a lot longer.

Having a Menu Item for Everyone

It took me five years to open my first restaurant. I love looking through my notes from when I was first trying to open my first restaurant. Once of my notes says “I want to have a pizza for everyone. Like a pesto shrimp pizza.” When I finally opened my first pizzeria I wasn’t looking at this book when I made my menu but sure enough, I have a pizza for everyone. And I do have a pesto shrimp pizza. My thought process behind my menu was I wanted everyone to be able to enjoy a pizza from my pizza shop. If they didn’t like my sauce I wanted them to be able to find a pizza on my menu that had a sauce they would like. I wanted my name to come up in conversation when talking about pizzas with friends and family. For instance “have you tried that pizza from ______ it is amazing it has buffalo meat on it and ….”  My approach did work. I heard all the time if you want something different call Dukes Pizza Plus. I looked at it as anyone can make a good pepperoni pizza if you can’t and you own a pizza shop there is something wrong somewhere. Not everyone can make a “Tractor Pull pizza” 

The names of the pizzas followed the same approach. I wanted them to be unique. Everyone has now gotten creative with the names of their food on their menu. Anywhere you go now you’ll see a “meat-a-soaris pizza, or a meaty man's pizza” You need to be more creative than that nowadays. We left are pizzas that we felt anyone could make alone with normal names but our more unique pizzas were named things like “The Tractor Pull” which came with BBQ sauce, cheese, bacon, onion and pulled pork. It is one of my favorite pizzas, it really is delicious.

Customer Service

How are you going to treat your customers? Nowadays customers expectations are at an all-time high, and prices are at an all-time low. Customers want to be treated like they are kings and queens and you need to treat them this way or they will find another place to go right.

Some restaurants treat their customers with attitude. An example of this is Dicks Last Resort. The first time I even heard of this type of restaurant was when I went to a food convention in Columbus Ohio. We stayed at the Hyatt hotel which was located one block over from Dicks Last Resort. I just thought it was a cool name until I did a little research. They are known for their outrageous serving style. They serve their food and treat their customers with an attitude which I thought was pretty cool because it was different. There are other restaurants located throughout the United States that serve their food similar style. It is a way to set you apart from the rest of the restaurants.

Most restaurants treat their customers with amazing customer service. You want that customer to remember the good experience they had when they came to your restaurant.

Customer service is part of building a raving customer verse a one and done customer. Do something that is going to make them remember you, that sets you apart from the rest.

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