Customers are the lifeblood of any business. So how do you attract customers to your restaurant?
It sounds obvious but it is surprising how many restaurant owners stop acting like this is the case once they have been open for a couple of years. Typically, they launch with a big bang, run a couple of promotional events, get some regulars, host a few big celebratory meals, and feel that they take their foot off the pedal, marketing-wise.
Often, that turns out to be a bad move. People get a bit bored with having the same dining experience every time they go in. Other restaurants open in the area and offer something a bit different. Pretty soon the restaurant owner that has not spent much time marketing finds themselves serving fewer diners.
To remain successful, food service businesses need to be constantly marketing. Actively working to attract customers to their restaurants.
Step one – understand what customers want
The best way to attract more people is to give them what they want. You can´t do that if you are not sure what that is.
You may be lucky and find studies online that will tell you what you need to know. But, usually, the best way to understand what your customers want is to talk to them.
You can also try conducting some short surveys via your website, emails, and social media. There are plenty of in-depth guides that show you how to do this.
Examine your sales data to learn about your customers
It is also possible to learn a lot about your customers from your sales data. You can find out:
- Which dishes and sides are the most popular.
- What time people like to eat in your area.
- How much people will typically pay for a meal out.
- Which promotions are working, and which ones do not appeal.
If you run a loyalty scheme, drill down further to learn more. For example, you may discover that at certain times of the day most of your customers are elderly and that they tend to only order the cheaper dishes. If that is the case, you can change your menu slightly to offer more items at that price point, at those times of the day. That demographic is highly likely to tell their friends that you offer a better choice than other restaurants in the area do.
Provide outstanding service
Speaking of word of mouth, offering excellent service is a powerful way to attract more customers to your restaurant. The thing is people do talk about the experience they have when they eat out.
They do it face to face and more importantly they also now do it online. According to research carried out by BrightLocal, 91% of people read online reviews. They have a big impact on the choices we all make. So, giving people a good experience is a remarkably effective marketing tool.
Run special events
Running special events is an excellent way to make sure that people have a memorable meal. They are also particularly good for social media marketing. Usually, people will post at least a few pictures online.
Offer free entertainment
If you can, once a month, at least offer some sort of free entertainment. It could be a live band, a magician, a quiz or opening up a couple of hours early every Thursday to host a book club or run cooking classes.
Be sure to advertise these events on your digital display screens, on social media and in other places.
Offer great value for money
It is important to offer good value for money. There is a lot of competition in the restaurant sector. So, if people feel that your food is too expensive, they can easily eat elsewhere.
Use your sales data to help you to create special offers that will be popular. Advertise them everywhere you can think of. Including, in your restaurant using your digital menu, and tabletop cards and having your servers ask if diners want to know what the specials are before taking the order. Make sure that you analyse your sales to work out which promos work, and which ones don’t.
Target big parties
Hosting big parties or groups of diners is an excellent way to showcase what you and your staff can do. If you leave a favourable impression with 50% of those attending the event there is a good chance they will come back. When they do, often, they will bring friends with them. Sometimes it may even make sense to do a big birthday party at cost.
Regardless of which of the above approaches you decide on, maximise their effectiveness using marketing. Including using our digital screen software to create compelling adverts for your events, services, and special offers. Once created, you can download the files and if you want to use the images or short videos you create on social media. Even give the file to a local company, so that they can display your ads on their digital screens.