You can spend hours trying to crunch numbers and improve your margins, but at the end of the day, real growth is all about how many people you get to walk through your door. Today’s restaurant market is more competitive than ever with diners’ attention divided between familiar chains, growing grocery delivery options, and other independent restaurants trying to stand out from the crowd. If you want to make sure people are thinking about you when they’re hungry, follow these tips and tricks.
1. Create Campaigns Based on Local Events
Local events can bring in large numbers of tourists plus an influx of local residents who wouldn’t usually be out and about. They all have to eat somewhere.
Even if you’re not directly participating or even in the same neighborhood, large local events will likely create more traffic in all directions. This includes people coming into town, locals looking for a quick meal on their way to or from the event, or people who want to do something outside of the main event area.
To take advantage, tie an advertising campaign into the event. This could be as simple as running an ad campaign in the run-up to the event. Of course, an even better tactic is to run a special during the event days to give people a reason to stop by.
2. Get Involved in the Community and Let Everyone Know It
Eighty-two percent of consumers consider social responsibility, including community involvement, when choosing where to spend their money. Even the remaining 18 percent isn’t out of reach — while they may not necessarily favor your community involvement, they’ll still remember your name if they see it more.
Your involvement options range from direct charity to sponsoring events to setting up a food stand at a popular local event. Whichever you choose, there are three groups of people who you want to reach.
- The participants who will see you there.
- Additional participants who become aware of the event through your PR campaign and decide to participate and check you out at the same time.
- People who may not be able to attend but will decide to support a restaurant that’s involved in the local community.
How do you let people know what you’re doing? Through standard channels like press releases, social media, and traditional advertisements.
3. Turn Your Regulars Into Net Promoters
- Detractors who will go out of their way to tell people about a negative experience.
- Passives who won’t share their experience with your restaurant at all.
- Promoters who will actively tell people to seek you out.
There is no publicity like free publicity, and promoters are the best way to get it. The easiest way to earn promoters is to tip passives who already like your restaurant over the edge into becoming promoters. On top of generally good service and things like remembering their names, this might include things like loyalty discounts or coupons for bringing in a friend.
4. Have a Story
What sets your restaurant apart from all of the others? If you don’t have a story, you’re just another diner competing on taste and price. But what really keeps consumers coming back is shared values — 64% say that’s why they continue a relationship with a brand.
Your brand story might be tied to your personal background, or it can be an entirely fictional legendary tale. What’s important is that it sets the stage for what customers can expect. This might be something basic or often used, such as New York bagels or Chicago pizza, or it might be a completely immersive tale like a medieval dinner show.
The end result should be that customers and the press don’t just talk about your food. They talk about where it came from, how it’s just like back home, or how they felt like they were traveling somewhere new.
5. Become an Expert
Don’t just talk about co