The surge in people dining out presents both opportunities and challenges to restaurant owners all over the world.
For one thing, it means that there are plenty of people for you to target. But it also means that the market and industry is more competitive than ever before.
If you want to reach more customers and get them coming through the doors, here are 10 ways to make it happen.
1. Offer Discounts for Return Visits
One of the big dilemmas restaurant owners face is not persuading diners to come back again in the future.
With so many rivals to compete with, you need to give customers a reason to come back once they’ve tried out your food for the first time.
This is not always easy, but offering them discounts is one reliable option. Most people like “free stuff,” or the presentation of it, and when they’re getting a bargain, they are more likely to come back a second time.
So, consider offering small discounts for people who have booked a table at your restaurant a while ago but haven’t returned since.
When they have eaten at your restaurant for a second time, they will be more likely to come back again and again.
2. Offer Something New and Entertaining
Maybe your business is failing to identify itself. Every restaurant needs to have its own identity that helps to differentiate it from other options.
Try offering something that no other restaurant in the local area is offering:
- Offer a unique dining experience that is totally different from what people get elsewhere.
- Apply an interesting theme to the restaurant and its design. Many restaurants successfully manage to do this.
- Simply offer new forms of entertainment to draw more people in during the evening. Whether it’s live music, a quiz night or live comedy, give it a try. It might be the best move you ever make.
3. Make Sure Your Location is Visible
The front of your restaurant is what people will see when they walk by, so you want your business to be as visible as possible.
It should look and feel like a high-quality restaurant when people see it for the first time.
Ideally, your location will be somewhere that makes it possible to get lots of passing trade. If you’re stranded in the middle of nowhere, it’s difficult to get natural exposure.
There are many tactics to employ to make the restaurant more eye-catching to people. You could come up with new branding and a new sign.
It’s also a good idea to put a board outside the restaurant on the pavement. On this board, you could put some of the things that you offer inside as well as the prices. Many people write humorous comments on these, too.
This might help catch peoples’ attention encourage more to step inside.
4. Get to Know Regulars
Most restaurants have a few people who are regulars that keep coming back. These people will provide the lifeblood of the business.
These are the kind of people you need more of if you want your business to thrive and survive into the future.
So, that’s why you should get to know them and let them know that you appreciate their repeat business.
Of course, you need to treat every customer as if they were the most important that ever walked through the door. But the ones that come back time after time are most important.
Build up a friendly relationship with them that goes beyond the simple customer relationship that you have with most people. Solid relationships can be the basis for turning customers into regulars in the long-term.
5. Sponsor Local Entities
Restaurants are local. They exist only in one place, so it’s important for them to become ingrained in the local culture and community if they’re going to succeed.
You want people to feel like the restaurant is a force for good in the community and not just another money-making business. That’s why it can be a good idea to put your money where your mouth is.
Sponsoring a local entity, whether it’s a local sports team or a charity event, is a great idea to try. Think of it as paying for advertising.
Yes, you have to hand over some money. But the potential benefits for the restaurant are huge. It will allow you to show people you’re trying to play a part in how the overall community functions.
6. Invite the Local Food Critic
Most local newspapers have a food critic that writes reviews of different bars and restaurants in the local area.
If your business has not been up and running for very long or you’re struggling for exposure, this can be a good way to get some attention.
Invite them over and let them know that you’ve like them to try your food. Your brand awareness can be given a huge boost.
There is a big gamble involved in this tactic though. You have no idea what they will write. All you can do is make sure that you cook the best possible food for them when they arrive at the business.
They could still write something that is not very positive though. But, having said that, many people in the world of business will tell you that there’s no such thing as bad publicity.
7. Use Online Video Content
A lot of restaurant owners may not worry about the internet as much as they should. There are numerous ways in which the internet can help.
Creating interesting content is a great way of getting people to engage with the restaurant online. It will allow you to show people what the restaurant has to offer.
This is very important nowadays because people like to see where they will be eating before they actually get there.
And if you have a stylish dining area, you will naturally want to show it off to potential customers. See Simplilearn for details on video marketing.
8. Turn an Aspect of Your Menu Into an Attraction
If you have one item on your restaurant’s menu that pulls in the customers, you could find the amount of people visiting rising steadily.
As the word starts to spread about your special meal, more people will want to see what the fuss is about. Of course, it’s not easy to turn an aspect of your menu into an attraction in its own right. But it is possible.
For example, you could come up with a recipe that is unexpected. It could combine flavors that are not normally expected to go together.
If the recipe works well, and people want to try it out, it can only be a good thing for your restaurant. Alternatively, you could put an eating challenge in place.
Then, anyone who completes the challenge could have their photo put on the wall.
9. Offer Party Bookings
Parties might not seem like the kind of thing that you want to be involved in. Many restaurant owners imagine them to be rowdy and not in keeping with the style of their restaurant.
But that is not necessarily the case. Most parties are simply people getting together to have a meal with a large group of people.
And you can make it more special by throwing champagne and cake into the mix.
It’s a great way to open up a new stream or revenue for your restaurant. And as long as you make it clear that your party bookings will have certain limitations, things should be fine.
It’s important to let people know exactly what they are getting when they book if you want them to behave in the right way.
10. List Your Business Online
There are many different websites that list websites of a particular genre.
Some of them are plain websites that list all restaurants in a certain area.
Others are organized by the type of food that is sold. And some are apps that can be used on the go.
Getting your restaurant listed can be beneficial. To start, having your business listed on these websites and apps will simply make your business more visible and easy to find.
This should also lead to more heat of the moment customer visits. For example, someone might be hungry and open their app to find a restaurant nearby. If they are near yours, they will come over.
What are some of the other ways you’ve seen restaurants market themselves?