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A virtual networking warm-up

As attendees of past RLCs can attest, many of the event’s management lessons come not from any stage, but from the 1,200 restaurant chain executives who pack the Westin Kierland. Conference activities, including this year’s expanded roster of Monday morning diversions, are planned expressly to foster give-and-take between peers. Attendees have consistently cited those networking opportunities as a main reason they attend the RLC.

To jump-start the process, a number of RLC attendees were recruited ahead of time for some virtual networking. We asked them to share their thoughts on what will undoubtedly be a major quest for those who come to Scottsdale Sunday: How to differentiate their brands in the eyes of consumers.

“The key to differentiation is embracing your company’s culture and brand voice, and weaving that into everything you do—from P-O-P in the restaurant, to how the crew interacts with your customers, to how you connect with your customers on your social media pages.”
—Paul D’Amico, president, Moe’s Southwest Grill

“Above-and-beyond service is a key factor to stand out from the crowd. Each guest needs to feel like they are immersed in something truly exceptional.”
—Jason Shkorupa, vice president of food and beverage, MGM Grand

“The key to differentiation is to engage and innovate on consumers’ terms, doing so in a disruptive way, yet one that holds true to the core of your brand. We like to say that it’s not ‘Bold or Fresh or Fast’, it is ‘Bold and Fresh and Fast’.
—Chris Tebben, vice president of marketing, Pei Wei Asian Diner

“Our people make the difference at Fridays. Our team members love to serve guests, have fun doing so, and are passionate about being the best. Our team embraces our promise of “In Here It’s Always Friday,” delivering a one of a kind experience.”
—Ricky Richardson, president, TGI Fridays USA

"A big piece of what makes Buffalo Wild Wings tick is the experience—beer, wings and sport—and the commitment to consistently deliver the experience along with great product and service. Add that to PhaseNext Hospitality's commitment to deliver the brand in an exceptional way everyday—and you have a winning formula."
—Roz Mallet, president and CEO of PhaseNext Hospitality, a Buffalo Wild Wings franchisee

More first-hand recommendations on differentiation can be found in the special leadership-themed April edition of Restaurant Business magazine. 

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