If your restaurant is running successfully, it’s easy to leave your marketing, business model, and hiring practices as they are. But a few intentional changes to your restaurant to promote diversity could make your business more inclusive, potentially leading to an improved restaurant culture, new customers, and an advantage over competitors.
America continues to become more diverse, and minority populations are expanding. While your restaurant may have been successful in marketing to one particular audience, chances are that if you can expand the diversity of your restaurant, you’ll appeal to more people and potentially bring new customers into your restaurant. This could mean a greater customer base, increased profits, and a restaurant that is truly embraced by your local community.
Being more inclusive in your restaurant business isn’t too difficult, but it will require some deliberate steps on your part. Even small changes to your marketing, hiring practices, and staff training can have a big impact.
Be More Inclusive in Your Products
Your restaurant’s menu and products instantly give guests an impression of your restaurant, and if these offerings aren’t diverse, you may be unintentionally alienating potential customers. For instance, certain cultures may prefer particular dishes; making an effort to include those on your menu can make those guests feel welcomed.
Expanding your menu isn’t the only way to promote inclusion within your restaurant. The physical menu, itself, also needs attention. If your restaurant is in a community where people speak multiple languages, consider designing your menu to include each of them. When you offer dishes that come from a particular culture, make sure that they are referred to with their traditional names, which will make them more familiar and recognizable to your audience.
Your product packaging and overall branding is another opportunity to be inclusive of multiple cultures. Specialty labels for pre-packaged food such as craft beer, take-home bags, menus, and more can help your restaurant to stand out from the competition and better connect with your audience. You can hire a professional artist to create artwork that is engaging, culturally driven, and unlike anything your competitors have. Consider hiring minorities to design this artwork, and then incorporate the images throughout your restaurant’s branding.
Focus on Diversity with Your Restaurant’s Staff
When it comes to making people of all cultures feel welcome in your restaurant, your staff plays a significant role. Implement cultural sensitivity training for all of your staff so that they understand the nuances of different cultures, their dining habits, and even how to welcome a family that speaks a different language. This training can also make staff more aware of the local cultures and your restaurant’s efforts to be more inclusive.
If a significant portion of your guests speak a different language, focus on hiring staff who can speak those languages and who can help to make those customers feel more comfortable. Be sure to consider the different languages that your staff speak when creating work schedules, and try to have at least one bilingual staff member present in every shift.
You might also teach all of your staff how to speak some basic phrases in multiple languages. While guests who are fluent in another language may also speak some English, showing that your business is making an effort to communicate with them in their primary language can make them feel appreciated.
Restaurant Marketing for Diversity & Inclusion
After changing up your products and making your staff more inclusive, you’ll need to change your marketing to reflect your new business branding. Diversity plays an integral role in creating effective advertising; people who see themselves represented in advertising and messaging are more likely to respond to that advertising. This means that focusing on making your advertising more diverse can result in increased profits from your marketing dollars.
In taking your marketing to the next level, you should focus on incorporating diversity into your advertising, social media, website, and more. A rebranding of your restaurant is one way to do this. Other strategies include announcing and promoting your new labels and artwork (referenced above), providing cultural context to your new menu dishes, and scheduling and promoting cultural events that your restaurant will be hosting.
You can also get involved in your local community by supporting or sponsoring cultural events, causes, hosting fundraisers for a good cause, and more. You might host a community night or other event to celebrate your newly rebranded restaurant, allowing guests to sample your new dishes and see the changes that you’ve made to your menu and marketing.
Embracing inclusivity in your restaurant can have powerful, lasting effects. Should you decide that expansion is right for your restaurant, these methods can help to grow your customer base, giving you the traction and support you need to become a bigger restaurant brand. Whether you ultimately want to expand your restaurant into other locations or just want to bring in more customers in your current location, designing your business to be more inclusive can be a powerful and positive strategy.