20 IDEAS TO GET NEW CUSTOMERS IN YOUR RESTAURANT
Marketing restaurants has changed dramatically over the years. What worked 10 years ago, or even last year, doesn’t usually work anymore. It can be a struggle to find new customers for your restaurant with social media, new technology and more competition than ever before.
Here is a quick list of ideas that we put together that every restaurant, big or small, should be doing to attract more customers to their restaurant.
1. TAKE AMAZING PHOTOS
Your food is what brings people into your restaurant right? After all, they’re there to eat. So shouldn’t you have really, really good looking photos of your restaurant’s food? Invest in a decent camera and start practicing your photography skills. If you can, hire a professional food photographer to take the photos for you. Use these images all over your website, social media and in other advertisements to get people craving what you offer. Photos are shared around most often online and will attract new customer to your restaurant.
2. OFFER FREE WIFI
Wi-Fi is very important, and in some cases a necessity for a lot of restaurant customers. Many people decide on where they are going to eat based on whether or not you have Wi-Fi. Your customize want to socialize online or even get caught up on work while at your establishment so it’s important to give them that incentive to come in.
3. KEEP A SMARTPHONE IN THE KITCHEN
Having a good smartphone in your kitchen at all times is worthy of your investment. Have your chefs and staff upload pictures in real-time to Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and other platforms easily and quickly. Customers want to see what’s happening right now, and they want to see pictures. Pictures are an easy source of content to post online to find new customers and get them engaged with your restaurant.
4. KEEP YOUR WEBSITE SIMPLE
We’ve seen a lot of restaurant websites and the majority of them have extremely poor delivery. Keep it simple. You don’t need a fancy flash website (because it most likely doesn’t work on mobile) and you don’t need that annoying background music, it adds nothing. Most websites have way too many distractions from what people are actually there to look for. Your menu, contact info, location and hours of operations should be easily visible. Anything else is just filler that isn’t needed.
5. SCHEDULE LIVE MUSIC
Everyone loves a little dinner entertainment. Scheduling live music consistently at your restaurant brings people in the door as it gives you events to promote and makes your restaurant look like the place to be.
6. BE ACTIVE ON SOCIAL MEDIA
Social media is one of the most powerful marketing tools for restaurant owners as it’s where your customers are hanging out. Your restaurant needs to be on your customers mind when they are thinking about where to eat. Social media allows you to engage with your customers to keep you on their mind and bring them into your restaurant.
7. USE EMAIL MARKETING
You need to start email marketing if you’re serious about getting customers in the door. You can easily start collecting emails on your website with an option form. Offer something like a $5 or $10 off coupon in exchange for their email address. Use these emails for a newsletter promoting your new menu items, upcoming events and specials. Don’t spam people as you’ll begin to annoy them. An email once a week to once a month will benefit your restaurant and your customers.
8. OFFER BIRTHDAY GIFTS VIA EMAIL
With regards to email marketing, capture your customers birthdays when they opt-in to your newsletter and let them know that they will be receiving a special gift on their birthday. When it comes time, email your customers on their birthday with a special coupon for a free appetizer or dessert. Most people celebrate their birthday with a big group at dinner. Giving them an incentive to choose your restaurant on their special day can both increase your sales and introduce new people to your restaurant.
9. HOST WINE TASTINGS
Chances are you serve wine, or at least you should be. Hosting a wine tasting event brings people together inside your restaurant for a new experience. They’ll be able to taste different wines that you serve, learn how to properly drink wine and develop a new appreciation for it. By hosting this in your restaurant you’ll also be giving people who otherwise wouldn’t be there a glimpse of what you have to offer. Put on a good event and they’re sure to come back!
10. START A COOKING CLASSES
Let’s face it, people don’t eat out every night. But when they’re cooking your recipes that you taught them at home they will be reminded of how great your food truly is. Keeping your restaurant on your customers mind is key to creating a loyal customer that comes back time and time again.
11. GET TO KNOW YOUR REGULARS
It’s not always about finding new customers that haven’t been to your restaurant. It’s much easier to make more with what you have. Getting to know your regulars on a personal level can greatly benefit your business. By getting to know them you’ll be showing them that you truly do care about them and their experience at your restaurant. Keeping a customer loyal can be much more profitable than trying to find new customers.
12. SHOW SPORTING EVENTS
A lot of people want to go out somewhere to watch the big local game. Why not be the place to be to watch it? Use big sporting events as another event to host at your restaurant. It doesn’t take much to promote and you’ll bring in large groups of people looking for a place to stay, eat and drink for several hours.
13. HOST HOLIDAY PARTIES
Holidays are an important time for restaurants that you must take advantage of. Almost everyone is looking for a place to have a holiday dinner with family or friends, host an office party or just a get together. Make sure people know that you accept reservations for holiday bookings by posting it on your website, social media sites and in your email newsletter.
14. SHARE YOUR RECIPES IN A BOOK
This relates to the idea of hosting a cooking class at your restaurant. People don’t always eat out, so when they’re cooking at home you still want them to be dreaming about your restaurant and food. By sharing some of your recipes, perhaps in a cookbook, you’ll make people remember that special dish they had at your restaurant; which is why they bought your book in the first place.
15. OFFER GIFT CARDS
While this may seem like an old, warn out trick; it works. I can’t count the number of times I, or someone I know, has gone to a specific restaurant solely because we had a gift card. The fact is, they bring people in. Once a customer is in your restaurant it’s your job to turn them into a loyal customer with your food and service. If you do so, you’ll more than benefit from giving away a few bucks in free food.
16. MEET THE CHEF
It can be a fun and exciting experience for a lot of customers to meet the chef behind your great food. Foodies will love the opportunity, and some may even blog about the experience, so put on a special monthly event to meet the chef of your restaurant. Don’t forget to promote it!
17. USE VIDEO TO TELL YOUR STORY
Sooner than later the majority of the content on the internet will be video. There is simply no better option for you to get people excited about dining at your restaurant than with an enticing video. It doesn’t need to be expensive, but make sure you have someone who knows what they’re doing to film and edit your story.
18. OPTIMIZE YOUR WEBSITE FOR LOCAL SEARCH
Everyone now uses the internet to search for where to eat out or order online from; and there are a lot of options to choose from. You need to optimize your restaurant for local search otherwise your restaurant’s website will be buried in the never ending list of competitors.
19. OFFER ONLINE ORDERING
Who has time to eat out anymore? Unfortunately, not that many people. If your restaurant offers takeout or delivery then you should have an online ordering options on your website. People hate to make phone calls these days, everyone emails and texts. Not to mention answering the phone at your restaurant wastes your staffs valuable time. Make everyone happier by letting your customers order food directly from your website. Make the process even easier by accepting online payments.
20. GET GOOGLE+ REVIEWS
Google+ reviews are crucial for your restaurant too not only look good to potential customers, but to be found at all on Google. People trust reviews, and choosing a restaurant you’ve never been before for a special occasion is taking a big chance. The more reviews you have the more likely people will trust that they’re making a good decision by dining at your establishment, assuming you have mostly good reviews that is.
And we have an extra tip for you!
20. Keep the environment organized
A restaurant with nice and clean tablecloths, new napkins. A clean environment with background music where the employees are with their uniform neat and matching. It may seem silly, but these are details that do not go unnoticed by your customers.