A rose by any other name

What makes you different, better and special? Your Unique Experience Proposition defines your brand and keeps your customers coming back.

In a marketplace full of gimmicky themes, snazzy jingles and celebrity spokespeople, how can you stand out from the crowd? By creating a Unique Experience Proposition. Unique Experience Propositions (UEP's) can be large or small, nationally-recognized, or famous within your city limits. They might be simple and elegant, or pack a punch like the Hooters girls. Your UEP may stand alone, or it may be several things that set you apart. Whatever the shape or form they take, your UEP boils down to you and your employees delivering the ultimate WOW to your guests!

How would you like your restaurant to be remembered? What would you like to stand out in the minds of your guests? My claim to fame had nothing to do with my skilled table service, the beautiful ambiance, or the fantastic seafood. (Sorry to brag, but it was a great spot.) Our unique experience occurred in the last five minutes of a guest's visit.

We gave away roses.

Yes, roses at every table, every night. At the end of the meal, the server would present the guest check and then hand a beautiful rose to each lady at the table.

We never had a first time visitor complain about being given a rose — they were always surprised and thrilled. Our returning guests, always looked forward to the special treat. I know for a fact that our roses were often a topic of conversation among friends. I thought it was a great way to get word-of-mouth advertising. Don't you?

What are you already known for? What is the UEP associated with you? Find it, and build on it. Your customers already have a brand impression of your operation. If you can align who you think you are with who your customers think you are, your UEP will emerge strong.

Take advantage of the senses. The singing servers at Max's Opera Cafe delight the ears. The thousands of pieces of historical, whimsical and just-plain-weird stuff that line the walls and hang from the ceiling of Fanny Ann's or Madison Bear Garden is a feast for the eyes.

Remember, no matter how spectacular or unique your UEP is, it's no substitute for a consistent and flawless execution of the basics. My roses would have just wilted if our service didn't shine, the food didn't WOW! and the restaurant itself wasn't clean and attractive. Core competencies and foodservice fundamentals ultimately keep your customers coming back.

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