When you run a restaurant, every tiny detail matters. From window treatments to silverware, guests pay attention to everything they see. This also includes the brand messages you are sending—both your own, and those of your vendor partners.
When it comes to the tabletop, the brands you offer your guests matter. From jam and jelly packets to sweetener and ketchup, your customers’ opinions and experiences are influenced by the array of products you serve. While some restaurants are able to take a scratch-made approach to every item, this simply isn’t feasible for most concepts, so vendor partnerships are vital.
“There is a benefit to [brand partnerships] when it comes to time savings and labor savings,” says Kyle Algaze, chief operating officer at Maryland-based Iron Rooster. “We do about 99 percent of our own products, but there are times when it saves us time and it will save us money.”
But restaurants can’t simply serve any products. One of the most important reasons it is important to think about the types of brands you’re using on your tabletops is quality. If you serve amazing food but your customers don’t like the condiments and tabletop products you serve, they may not come back.
Another factor to consider is that today’s consumers are more discerning than ever, and while taste and quality are important, consumers also want to know that the brands they interact with have similar values. Serving brands that have values that don’t represent those of your restaurant or your customers can be bad for business. Likewise, partnering with brands with similar missions can amplify your message and add another layer to your restaurant’s overall experience.
Many consumers may also come to your restaurant with their own preferences in mind. Diners often have strong brand loyalty to items they purchase and use in their own homes, so choosing partners they are already familiar with can help consumers feel comfortable in your restaurant.
“You just know what you’re going to get from a product, and it’s something a lot of people have grown up with when it comes to brand names,” Algaze says. “They identify with it and recognize it. It makes the experience more appealing.”
This also helps consumers know what to expect from products, making for a better eating experience, Algaze says.
“We’ve made our own spices before, and we’ve made our own ketchups before, and a lot of times people just associate brand names with what they are used to and what they recognize, and they know what they are going to get,” he says. “That works in the favor of us as well because we do a lot of scratch made cooking and handmade, but sometimes you just need to put the brand name on the table to let people know you’re in a good place.”
Finding out what products your customers already love can be a great strategy for determining what brands to use on your tabletops. You may find that certain brands carry more weight than others or that your consumers have strong taste preferences for certain products.
“Talk to your guests and find out what they like and what they don’t,” Algaze says. “Sometimes when it comes to a certain brand people that you want to use, people identify with it in certain ways, so it’s about knowing your clientele and what you want to accomplish. Your guests because they will tell you exactly what they want to se, and that’s who you should listen to.”
Though it may seem simple, the condiments and tabletop brands you serve at your restaurant matter. A restaurant’s dishes and signature creations will always star on menus, fostering strong brand partnerships can further satisfy guests and enhance the customer experience.