Opening day is one of the most exciting days for restaurateurs. The staff are all excited, and you can't help but feel like this is really happening. You've finally made it! But what about after that? How do you keep people coming back to your restaurant?
There are a variety of methods to increase restaurant foot traffic, depending on the type of clientele you want to attract or already have. Make sure that your restaurant's design, social media interaction, and dining experience adequately welcome your guests and go hand in hand with your brand.
Customers will be able to find you when they need a place to eat or order out when you stay up to date and constantly remind people that you are open for business all day, every day.
Continue reading to discover restaurant industry ideas so you can accomplish your foot traffic objectives.
Claim your business listing
Claiming your business listing on Bing, Yahoo, Google Business, among others, is the first step to getting your restaurant in front of other businesses. These platforms allow new customers, within a certain radius, to find you when they are looking for restaurants nearby. This will inevitably help drive foot traffic since it increases your visibility.
If you can, use Google Maps and search for nearby businesses in your area and see how your company compares to others. Make sure that you are easily pinpointed on the map to easily be recognized when clients search by local range.
Furthermore, these listings allow you to add pictures, which many people don't take advantage of. You also have the option of using text over images, which will attract people to your listing since you have the power to describe them in more detail. You may need to optimize your photographs for each listing to enhance your chances of getting noticed and at the same time, ensure quality images are at the forefront. Photographs have a tremendously positive impact on someone's decision to try your food, especially if they see previous customers posting their positive experience!
Claiming is simple: just create a profile through the business listing website, and add your restaurant's contact information. From there, you can claim it for free by verifying yourself with an email address.
A great way to drive restaurant foot traffic through search result pages is by using keywords in the description of each listing. It's important to save these keywords relevant to your venue so that you can grab customers' attention while searching.
Eventually, you will have access to your data; such as your search views, clicks on your website, customer patterns, and more. This information can be used to make a strategic plan for your online presence while maintaining your digital presence.
For example, if you notice that customers are clicking on the link in your listing but not going to the website afterward, this could mean that they need additional information about dining at your restaurant or contact information before they will convert to customers.
Use the tools available on the business listing website and make sure that your restaurant information is complete, accurate, current, and optimized for search engines.
Improve your website
You're probably thinking that your restaurant's website is the last place you need to be concerned with. It should come up in any relevant searches, right? Unfortunately, the answer isn't always yes. If your website isn't easy to navigate, you may be losing clients from this first impression and if your website is not easy to find, in store visits will not be as probable.
Without a properly optimized site for search engines like Google and Bing, it can be difficult for customers to find what they are looking for. This is especially true if you are not including keywords in your restaurant's description, name, and other areas on the site that customers would search to find businesses like yours.
If you have an existing site that isn't ranking high enough in search results, it may be time to consider updating the design or building a new one from scratch. Having a responsive, mobile-friendly site is essential since many customers are using their smartphones to search for local restaurants anyway.
Optimizing downloadable content ensures that your website doesn't crash or has a hard time loading between clicks and scrolls. According to Rewards Network, data shows that 39% of people will not wait long for an image to load on a website, therefore it contributes to loss of business.
Some other steps go a long way towards improving your restaurant's online presence, such as optimizing your restaurant website for all devices and posting fresh content on a regular basis.
If this all sounds overwhelming, you're not alone. Many companies know the value of having a website, however their skills or their time frame may not serve them in this scenario. One way out of this is using a website creator such as Squarespace, Wordpress, Wix, Webflow, etc. Over the years, these have improved to the point where business owners do not require any website creation skills to have a beautiful and functional website. Which is a sigh of relief!
Another option is to eliminate any headaches and ask a web designer to do it for you. This can often be more costly depending on if you hire a beginner or an expert in the field. Just remember to be patient and provide the designer with the most information you can about your business and your preferences so that you won't be disappointed with the end result.
Let them know you're open
No one wants to go to a restaurant and have it be closed, or struggle to find the opening hours online. Hence, make sure that your restaurant details are available on every platform possible, both in person and online.
Provide all relevant information, such as your restaurant's phone number, address, and opening hours in person (entrance, windows, doors, menus), and online (website, mobile app, social media).
Remember to also provide an email address or offering a chat box on your website for customers who want to reach you and your staff directly. This can be the difference between someone choosing another restaurant over yours - if they have difficulty finding it otherwise!
Additional tip: Find a good spot on your premises to post your menu so that people can see it more easily; both when you're open and when you're closed. You will be surprised how many customers will pass by and give it a look, which potentially translates to future customers!
As a general rule, it's important to be consistent throughout all of your platforms since social media is key to customer reach. When posting online it is a good rule of thumb to occasionally thank your customers for supporting you.
Be sure that your social media accounts are frequently updated with what is going on at the restaurant, such as daily specials or a photo from an event you're having. Customers want to feel invited and be entertained even if they can't make it in person!
Use location to your advantage
The ambiance of your restaurant for both its interior and exterior is important, as it is what attracts customers to you. It is the first impression that potential walk-ins base their decision on to visit you or not. Attracting foot traffic comes with a few setbacks if people are not immediately drawn to you.
Take a step back and evaluate your restaurant as objectively as possible, as any person would when walking by or entering your premises. What do you notice? Are there any factors that may be driving your image down?
Some examples of customer deterrents are:
- mildewed walls
- unwashed windows and tables
- ripped or broken signage
- peculiar smells
- invasive weeds
- dead greenery
- pest traps
- dust accumulation
- rusted or chipped paint
- crooked or warped foundations
- stained ventilation grills
- broken or damaged doors, handles, or railings
- unclean dishware
- unprofessional or unmotivated staff
- improper ventilation (humidity, heat, strong cooking scents)
- overflowing garbages
- noisy environment
- broken and/or blinking lights
- overly crowded premises
- rotting or scratched wood
- lack of decor
Once you find these deterrents, make it your priority to do what you can to fix them. Your restaurant's condition is a reflection of your service and can easily make or break the impression you wish to put forward.
Tip: Take the time to plan your restaurant's interior so that it matches what you're selling.
On top of creating an atmosphere that people can sit and relax in, make sure that the restaurant is clean and well-maintained. If you are known for having good food but a dirty place, it will turn people away who would otherwise enjoy your services.
In addition to creating an appropriate atmosphere inside of your restaurant, think about what kind of experience customers want when they come through the doors. Is it a quick stop for lunch and then back to work? Or do they want to enjoy the ambiance of your restaurant as if they were on vacation?
For example, if you have a burger place then make sure there are seats and tables specifically for those who want to eat in; as opposed to having only take-out counters or no seating at all.
No matter what, make sure that you are able to accommodate everyone who walks through by having staff ready at all times. If customers feel like there is nothing going on in the restaurant, and your entertainment is not to their liking, they will not stay.
Maximize your space for better foot traffic
Everyone knows that restaurant size matters. When people walk into a restaurant they have the impression of what it would be like eating there based on how much space you have available to use as seating or for entertainment purposes.
If your restaurant has an open concept design then make sure that enough space is given so everyone can feel comfortable and private.
One way to maximize space is through proper lighting and furniture placement! Keep in mind what kind of ambiance you're going for (classy, casual, hipster, eclectic, etc.) and be mindful of the amount of people placed in one area.
You want to make sure you're making use of every inch that you have available and be able to do so without disturbing your customers or taking away from their eating experience (i.e. get creative with storage).
Don't forget that your storage spaces are always best kept unseen from the public, however you may adjust as you go to minimize this interaction. This is especially true for your staff, since navigating in a dedicated storage regions reduces potential accidents or visible clutter to your customers.
By making such efforts, you will seem more inviting and more approachable, which in turn saves you a lot of money trying to repurchase dining chairs and tables in the future.
Use windows as assets
As aforementioned, the way you work your space can determine your restaurant foot traffic. One quick way to manage your windows is to have your customers fill up seats situated near them, especially those visible to any passerby.
Once you do so, you will realize how full your restaurant will look throughout your operating hours. This tactic is proven to influence positive emotions in those walking by, since a full restaurant equals a sought out restaurant; which means your restaurant is worth their time.
Another tip is to consider digital signage on your windows, such as a light up message or a tv. This is a great way to advertise your restaurant and allows you more options for advertising at different times of the day. You can advertise specials or events quickly, and easily take advantage of the rhythm of your restaurant as changes take place.
As a reminder, the menus you originally decided to post on your premises can more easily be changed too when using digital signage.
Use images at your disposal
The last thing people want is to read your menu, purchase food, and then be disappointed once they receive it. You will find that showcasing your food on your windows, indoor / outdoor signage, menu, or your website, you have the ability to control the shock that may occur.
Having images of your most popular and unique dishes can also influence the customers' ordering decisions. These images inevitably reveal what their money can get them and the portions are another factor in the amount of food each person will order.
Let's say someone decides to walk in and order something they read on your menu, yet the portion is way too small. This could have been avoided with images and the customer would then have the chance to order more food if need be. Your portions are often what adjusts over time, depending on what sells and what feedback you receive from clients.
Create indoor and outdoor interest
Restaurants need to be able to suit their customers' needs not only through their food but through their atmosphere. For example, if you have an upscale restaurant with a lot of disposable income in your area, you should focus on making the experience as luxurious and comfortable as possible.
For a more casual restaurant with lower prices, being customer service oriented is key,; such as ensuring that everyone is satisfied during their meal and once they prepare to leave.
The most cost effective options are to invest in statement lights to add to your space that go with the mood you wish to set.
This could be a moody and warm restaurant, so simple under-cabinet lighting on each table is ideal.
If you want your place to have an outdoors feeling, then string lights are the way to go! You can set them up in trees or around poles and they do wonders for replicating the outdoors.
Dimmer switches are also a great option for controlling the mood, so you can have certain parts of your restaurant lit up if needed.
When it comes to creating an inviting space and ensuring that guests feel comfortable in their surroundings, lights do wonders!
Another option is to decorate with indoor plants that do not need much maintenance to survive. This is crucial because if plants are starting to die and aren't maintained, the life will be sucked from the atmosphere of your restaurant. Avoid having plastic plants as this will only cheapen the look of your restaurant and not provide you with the cleaning properties that real plants have.
3) Unique art
This is a great option for restaurants that have some extra space on their walls and are located in an area where people will appreciate the art.
It's also important to note that you can always change your artwork depending on what season it is, or if there are any holidays coming up. It's best not to have one set image displayed all year round as this will lead to it not being noticed (unless it's a statement piece).
You can avoid this by hiring an artist (local or not) to paint a unique mural which goes along with your brand image. Thus, repainting for the seasons won't be necessary because it already aligns with your brand (unless touch ups are needed).
If you do not have the resources to do this, painting your premises with an accent color or adding pops of color with decorative objects can do the trick. However, make sure that your space is navigable if objects are being placed around.
Tip: Use paint that is meant for outdoors as these are better at resisting wear and tear as weather conditions and time take place.
4) Outdoor seating
If you have the space and the budget to add outdoor seating, you can greatly increase the traffic in your restaurant. As stated by Fast Casual and Simmons Research Group, outdoor seating can increase revenue by 33%. You can do so by adding picnic benches, a patio, a terrace, sidewalk tables, or even small benches spanning beside your windows.
First, you are able to advance your restaurant by including an area that is completely different from indoors. However insects are inevitable and can't be as easily controlled near food.
Tip: You can avoid bugs by using natural deterrents such as citronella candles, sweetgrass, and lavender. You can also do so by minimizing the amount of spot lights added to your space.
Second, people can choose where to dine - even on the days with promising weather, they will definitely spend time at your restaurant rather than other indoor options nearby!
Third, you can distribute people around and not have people feel crowded within the restaurant.
Fourth, an outdoor dining area can reduce the noise within your restaurant.
Fifth, your restaurant will be more noticeable to those walking by.
Sixth, outdoor arrangements can lead to people staying longer on your premises, which can encourage more sales.
Seventh, saves space indoors for customers waiting for pick up orders, staff dealing with delivery orders, and those coming for a quick bite.
5) Free samples at the door
Did you ever recall a store or restaurant just by the free samples you received? Or have you recalled the location and business rather than what exactly you were given?
Offering free samples at the door can work for all types of restaurants, but will best cater to fast food chains and casual diners. The goal is to encourage people to enter your restaurant by starting to give them a taste of a unique product.
Make sure that you have an employee distributing them to control the cleanliness of your service.
Tip: You can offer a small sample of anything but make sure to keep it preference based (offer what the majority likes). Choose wisely! specifically an item that you have the ability to produce more of quickly in case you are running out or the item is going stale.
This is an excellent tactic because if they do like what's being offered, they will be willing to come back again or even recommend your restaurant to their friends and family.
As a result, this can drive foot traffic as people outside the restaurant will be aware that you are offering free samples and might even encourage others who have not tried something new in forever!
Sample giveaways can pull people into your business, and ensure that signage clearly describes which food items are being offered and what they contain (in case of food allergies and preferences).
Music can set the mood and atmosphere of your restaurant, but also draw in potential customers.
You are able to give people a reason for dining at your restaurant over others by offering music they would enjoy. This will help with capturing an audience that is not only looking for food items on the menu, but looking for an experience.
Tip: Make sure you are mindful with the amount of sound you create to be respectful to neighbours, whether they be businesses, apartment / home dwellers, tourists, wildlife, etc.
7) Creative signage
Your restaurant needs to stand out and not blend in with the rest of your location, whether it's a shopping mall, strip plaza, or simply on its own.
You are able to create signage that is memorable by using bright colours for text and creatively displaying menu items. This will help drive foot traffic as people driving or walking by might be interested if they are not already aware of your existence.
Tip: Make sure that your signage is large enough to be read by those in vehicles regardless if they are driving, parked, etc. You can also consider larger signage if you are situated in a visually cluttered region (where other signage may take the attention away from your restaurant).
One thing to consider is to have a fixed main sign with your restaurant name and an indication of what you do such as:
Creative signage doesn't have to stop there, you can promote upcoming events, release new promotions, place fun messages, or even advertise a new menu item.
Tip: Sandwich boards are an alternative to expensive signage, however they may not be as effective in visually cluttered regions.
Know your customers
Understanding what your customers want comes with time and patience.
You need to ask yourself what your restaurant is all about, who do you want to serve your food items or drinks, and how can you cater to them? You are able to further understand these factors by checking reviews on social media sites like Instagram, Facebook, Twitter as well as directly asking customers for their opinion.
Tip: Make sure you are taking note of distinct feedback, whether it is positive or negative. You can use this information to tweak your menu items and restaurant design in order to continuously better yourself as a business / brand.
You should avoid leaving unanswered reviews since it can tarnish your customer service. Thus, have dedicated restaurant operators reply to them; preferably within the hour they have been posted because 1 to 3 negative reviews have the potential to turn away 67% of possible customers.
You can also ask your customers for their opinion through surveys which allow them to share their experience either on the spot or with questions you wish to unravel.
Tip: Surveys can be done through email, websites, and social media sites. You want your surveys to look professional and inviting so make sure they have a unique design (not plain text) that will inspire others to take the survey seriously. Indicate how long it would take to complete the survey and offer a redeemable coupon to those who take the time to do so.
By continuously reviewing this feedback, you need to find patterns in their purchasing behaviour based on the average check size, visit frequency, and customer lifetime value. You can then use this information to determine the successful items at your restaurant and in what quantities customers order them.
Tip: You may come across patterns where you notice that people are not spending as much money on certain days or times, so consider offering more value deals such as a lunch special menu item for half the price. This way you get return business and those customers may order more food items throughout the day.
By motivating returns with such incentives, you are able to not only boost sales but also generate more interest in your restaurant. Keep track of the number of people who visit on these special days / times so that you can see if it is working for boosting sales or traffic flow.
If this information shows positive results, consider using a loyalty program where customers earn points towards free meals based on how much they spend. You can even add a bonus point system if customers mention your restaurant online, refer their friends to you, or share photos of the food items at your place!
Tip: Make sure that whatever program you sign up for is simple and easy enough so all customers understand what it takes to earn points towards rewards.
If you are still struggling with foot traffic, consider researching which menu items appear in the "Year in Food", where the most sought out food is listed. You can then use this information to further optimize your restaurant menu. You can also track food trends and check if there are any recurring themes on social media.
You will want to make sure that these items are highly desired by your customers so always consider what they want and how you can provide it to them.
Along with this, you need to remember to keep your customers engaged with your restaurant, since any other restaurant can start including trendy food items on their menu.
Therefore, consider holding classes on your premises showcasing these trendy food items. What this does is show your customers that you are willing to teach them the art of cooking, which is a great motivator for them to come back and visit your restaurant.
Tip: Find the right balance when it comes to holding classes. You can have the classes catered by you which will give people an incentive since they are not only learning about cooking techniques but also enjoying food samples!
Hire the right staff
Invest in your employees and make sure they are properly trained to engage with customers and provide them the best experience.
You want your waiters and waitress' to be knowledgeable about what is available on your menu, as well as able to recommend items based on customer preferences. By having good staff members you can also display a more personal touch when it comes time for hosting events.
Keep your restaurant updated with the latest trends in service, design and cuisine to keep customers interested in what you are offering.
Staff behavior is important since having a cohesive team fosters a community between your restaurant and customers. You need to delineate what makes your best employees the best and work on those qualities during training when introducing new people in.
Of course, your work is not done here. You need to continue encouraging your staff by welcoming them to a fun environment with competitive salaries. You staff is one of the factors that contribute to restaurant foot traffic, therefore pay close attention to those who continuously improve your restaurant and encourage professionalism.
One way to know this is through managing the tips and understanding who is often coming back with more. You can monitor this by looking a your POS data and finding the customers who tip well and those who come back for more.
By having a refined staff, you can create an action plan to further boost foot traffic by utilizing the right marketing strategies along with your restaurant design / services and online presence. By matching these three aspects - food tech & style, customer behavior and employee training - you will be able to successfully increase foot traffic.
One crucial point is to let your staff know when they do a good job. Whether it be as their hard work occurs, if a positive customer review is communicated to them, or as their progress is recognized in your data.
Last but not least, do you have the right number of staff? It is important to have enough staff members so that you do not overwork them, but also ensure they are able to provide the best service possible throughout your restaurant.
This depends on a variety of aspects depending on what kind of food and services your restaurant offers.
So ask yourself: How many business hours am I running for in a day? How many staff members do I need for each shift in order to provide the best service and a memorable experience? What is their capacity of work during these hours without feeling overwhelmed or tired?
Hire more people if you feel they are unable to serve your restaurant's needs, but be mindful to limit staff when there's a shortage of busy hours.
Remember, your restaurant's success starts with creating a memorable experience for your customers and your staff.
Events are a great way to boost interest and awareness around your business. It makes customers come to you instead of deciding to go to your competitors.
When scrambling to find event ideas, we recommend keeping an eye on the city website to come up with local promotion ideas for the meantime. Your goal is to involve yourself with the local community and to set yours apart from the rest of the restaurants in your area.
In terms of food, you can host sample events where free samples from your restaurant's menu are provided for those who attend. This helps people understand what kind of cuisine is offered at the restaurant as well as giving them an idea about how much they should buy.
These events can also be used as a way to market your restaurant and build relationships with those who attend. About 88% of customers searching for local businesses are known to visit that restaurant within a day. By knowing the needs of customers through these types of events, you can provide them more personalized service on future visits which will drive foot traffic in itself!
What about non-food related events? These could include:
- Charity events for local communities
- Art shows and live music to attract a creative demographic
- Seminars or talks about the business in general, such as its challenges and opportunities.
- Host non-traditional holidays and events
- Board game, trivia, painting, drawing nights
- Book clubs
How about combining food with non-food events? These could include:
- Sample cocktails and wines with hors d'oeuvres at a wine tasting event.
- Serve free appetizers, side dishes or desserts based off of your restaurant's menu during an art show to attract those who like the cuisine but may not be aware that it is offered there.
- Ladies nights
- Happy hour specials
By combining non-food related events with food, you can attract a larger audience and boost your restaurant's awareness as well as name!
Don't forget to let people know about these types of events through social media or word of mouth. Give them an incentive by providing free samples if they mention the event on their social media accounts or have them follow your page to keep receiving updates.
There are several ways to stand out, but you have to be creative and apply tips to what benefits your restaurant strategy.
Businesses often go through slow periods, especially during a recession since people aren't splurging as much. Therefore, having some tricks up your sleeve can help you get through these times and increase your exposure.
Here are some examples:
- Pitch yourself for awards
- Teach an online course (free or not)
- Host quick how to videos on social media
- Go live on social media
- Offer a deal on a National Day or an uncommon Holiday
- Live comedian
- Open mic night
- Poker tournament
- Food trucks
- Special food and drink tastings (beers, wines, cocktails, appetizers)
- Donate leftovers to food banks
- Offer compostable delivery packaging
- Accept reusable takeout containers
- A free dessert for birthdays
- Distribute coupons on the street
- Provide catering for local businesses and events
- Student discount nights or senior citizen discount nights
- Early bird specials (starting from 6 am until 8 am)
- Crayons and drawing paper for children
- 1 free tea or coffee refill with purchase
Sell signature items in batches
Great tasting food, drinks, and desserts will leave customers wanting more every time they visit your establishment. Why not offer them for sale in batches? What better way to make them bring some of their favourite items home after their stay?
Pricing is another important component, so make sure you offer items at competitive prices based on the market and other restaurants in the area. You must also ensure that these items are rare to find or unique to you, whether that be an imported product or a homemade product. You wouldn't want to be selling a wine that anybody can get at a local liquor store for cheaper.
Dedicate a region to sell these products. This could be a separate freezer, refrigerator or cupboard on display. This can also be a separate kiosk with all the products you offer for sale in one place (like a mini store).
Examples of this can be:
- Cupcakes: for sale by the dozen or half-dozen.
- Sauces: for sale by the jar. Such as Alfredo sauce, guacamole, truffle sauce, etc.
- Ice cream: for sale by the tub.
- Olive oil: for sale by the litre.
- Specialty spices: for sale by the gram.
- Beer: for sale per unit, per half-dozen, or per dozen.
- Wine: for sale per unit or per case.
- Cake: for sale per unit or per slice.
- Smoothies: for sale per bottle.
the options are endless...
Cater to different groups of people
Who's your target audience?
The demographics of your restaurant should determine what events to host. For example, if you are aiming for a younger crowd, hosting board game nights or trivia would be great because it is something familiar with this demographic and can attract them easily.
If you are targeting an older generation, consider having more relaxed nightlife where they do not have to shout over loud music or have to compete with younger adults.
If you are looking for a more professional crowd, hosting seminars and talks about the restaurant business will get their attention because they may be thinking of starting up one themselves in the future! You may get away with having dedicated "quieter" regions for customers who wish to reserve for important business meetings.
Another factor is, are you targeting the right customers? You may have a menu and atmosphere with a potential to cater to a different target audience more effectively.
For example, if you have more affordable menu items, consider catering to a younger audience, such as students and families.
A good way of catering to different groups is by holding more than one event at once. Another option is to see which customers your competitors are attracting to their restaurants. This can inevitably increase sales.
Another uncommon question to ask yourself is, are your customers a good reflection of your business? If not, why? And who are they instead?
An example of this is really nailing the atmosphere of your restaurant through design, staff, menu, and menu pricing. If not, it is very easy to start welcoming unwanted guests, whoever that may be to you.
For example, if you are in a low income area, your restaurant may attract people who like to drink and party.
If the atmosphere of your restaurant is more upscale and sophisticated, then your atmosphere conflicts with this target group. It may be beneficial for you to adjust aspects that are driving your business away from the target group you decide upon.
However, you may not always have control over who you attract to your restaurant, so be respectful nonetheless because you may gain regulars without you expecting it.
Accept different payment methods
Accepting multiple payment methods can increase sales, but it also depends on the type of restaurant you have and what fits your business plan.
If you are running an upscale restaurant with high-quality ingredients, fine dining pricing may not be ideal if they cannot pay by credit card because of the fees it may incur.
However, if you are running a fast casual restaurant with affordable menu items and take-out options, then credit cards can be an ideal payment method because your customers want to move quickly in order to get back into their busy days or nights.
It is also beneficial for restaurants that have an online ordering system by having the ability to accept credit cards because it lowers the risk of losing money.
The best way to know what payment methods you should implement into your business is by checking out competitors and seeing which payment options they are accepting in comparison with yours. This can give you a good understanding on deciding which option not only fits for them, but also fits for your restaurant.
One of the most recent payment methods is phone scanning, especially among younger generations. This method is great for people who do not wish to carry cash and want a quick payment option.
However, this does come with the risk of increasing credit card fees because you are using their phone lines in order to charge them so it may be beneficial for you to look up how much processing companies such as Square or PayPal will cost per transaction as well as the percentage they take out.
After doing research, you can then decide whether or not it is beneficial for your restaurant to implement this payment method into your business because there may be a decrease in sales and increase in fees if implemented improperly.
Therefore, being able to adapt and change with time and technology allows businesses to survive and grow.
Partner up with food and beverage establishments
Consider partnering with other restaurants, chefs, or businesses that are related to your restaurant industry or something you would like more exposure for!
A good example of this is having a restaurant open up right next door with different cuisines offered. Your restaurants can partner together by doing cross promotions and sharing the same marketing strategy, especially online. This will benefit both establishments in the end.
To make this partnership seem more authentic, consider hosting food festivals and other types of events.
For example, if your restaurant is offering a taco bar and the one next door offers smoothies, you could have a Taco Bar Smoothie night where customers can enjoy both for an affordable price! It gives each group something to look forward to.
This is known as a special menu item that is offered for a limited time - even as short as the special of the day.
You can also consider featuring your customers on social media ! Try hosting an Instagram contest, giving away a free meal to the winner.
This will not only drive people to your business but also increase brand awareness. Your restaurant may even be given credit for continuing the trend - just search #foodcontest or something along those lines.
By researching relevant social media hashtags for restaurants, you may be able to engage with more customers and attract the most relevant audience for your business. What this does is create user-generated content for your restaurant.
Another thing to consider is having flexible working hours that can accommodate all types of customers, not just the ones who work during the same hours you do.
For example, if you are in a mall food court with other restaurants around you, try opening up for later night dining so people coming out of stores or shows looking for a bite to eat have the option to dine out.
Working with your neighbors can be beneficial for everyone if done correctly! Customers will appreciate having more options and you may even get some regulars from businesses around you too.
What else can you do? Well the options are endless.
You may want to partner up with a chef and create a specialized item on your restaurant's menu.
You may want to consider partnering with a specific food truck.
You can also communicate that you are open to partnerships by advertising on social media or encouraging bands, artists, creatives to post on a bulletin board in your restaurant to advertise their work.
Just make sure to choose something that meshes well with both parties involved.
Doing this will provide connections for your restaurant that may lead to future opportunities!
The goal is not only driving foot traffic but to retain customers.
Make sure you are always communicating with customers, whether it be through email or social media by posting promotions and events going on in the near future - make them count.
Build a web presence
The first thing you can do is spread the word about your restaurant the traditional way.
You can do this through print advertising, television commercials and billboards.
However, you may want to consider becoming active online as well.
This is a great way to get in touch with new or potential customers that are looking for what you have on their social media feed! A good example of using your restaurant's web presence would be to offer specials that only your online audience can enjoy.
Other ways you can promote your restaurant is through word of mouth, reviews and sharing deals or promotions on social media - this means having an active account with posts!
If people like what they see when scrolling their feed, they are more likely to stop in for a bite at least, and if they love it, you can bet their friends will hear about it too.
Don't forget to customize your restaurant's online presence! This means getting active on social media and having a website that is easy to navigate.
Make sure potential customers can find you with ease by doing some basic research like using the right keywords when naming your restaurant and making sure your website's address is easily remembered.
Make it easy for people to find you online! If they can't, they'll never know what amazing food await them at your restaurant. By doing so, you are building relationships with your customers, since you are interacting through posts, stories, and staying current on their feed. Almost like you are reminding them that you exist - since there's hefty competition in the restaurant business.
By getting people to interact with your website and social media pages, you can increase foot traffic to your restaurant. How can this be done? Well, like we mentioned earlier, pictures are your asset. Encourage your customers to take pictures and post online, hire a professional to showcase your menu in style, or go as far as curating an aesthetic.
This all comes down to creating shareable content and offer incentives (prizes, features, follows, shoutouts) to those who share your page on their socials.
Increasing your social following comes with hard work, however what works for others may not always work for you. Remember to remind yourself about the style and atmosphere your restaurant and what it is meant to represent.
Following all the trends will only make you blend in, so use with caution.
Dedicate priority to devices
Branching off the previous topic, devices are used by almost every individual that enters your restaurant. Therefore, what better way to have customers stay longer and possibly order more by offering free Wi-Fi. It can also be seen as an incentive for in house visits in the first place.
You can go as far as implementing more outlets and having them placed close to your restaurant tables for customers to charge their devices. Customers will see that you have them in mind even in the design process.
Another way to keep your guests around is through different services and amenities you offer, like having an ATM on premise. This will make them feel special (and not think twice about leaving) since they are accommodated for any possible scenario.
Implement delivery services
If you are interested in driving more foot traffic to your restaurant, then you may want to consider implementing a delivery service. Offering this option is just another way for customers to find what they need on their own terms.
This will also mean that people can quickly have access your menu which means they know what food they want to order and can do so from the comfort of their own home.
As we mentioned earlier, update your menu often and stay up to date with the products you want to have available for delivery.
That being said, you don't have to have every item on your menu available for takeout. You have the power to curate it to the most popular products which you know people will order time and time again.
Be sure to choose menu items with different prices to ensure there's something for everyone's budget, and don't forget to clearly list the prices of each item!
Another crucial point is to have all of your ingredients listed on your website to avoid any allergies from taking place or even avoid disappointment with orders.
When implementing a delivery service, you need to account for many other factors which you can further read about in our blog post "How to expand your restaurant with food delivery").
As a restaurant owner, you have several things to take care of and keep track of. You can never be prepared for everything that comes your way, but the right tools will make all the difference in guiding decisions.
Pay attention to online reviews
Online reviews can make or break your restaurant's reputation. So naturally, you should put in the effort to respond to them and understand how to adjust your restaurant to your customer's needs.
Responding to both positive and negative reviews is a tedious task, however it is crucial to assign either a staff member to respond to them, or have yourself check them from time to time.
Not only is this a great way of staying on your customers' good side, but it also gives insight into what they like or dislike about their experience. This will help establish an idea for future events and how to make improvements where necessary. It's essentially a form of customer service.
You can also simplify your life and implement a review monitoring software to remind you when new reviews have been posted. You can never be too sure about what is being said online, so it's important to keep up with your restaurant and communicate in a timely manner.
Putting all the right elements together goes a long way when trying to drive foot traffic to your restaurant! Having an organized network of communication will help you stay current and you improve your restaurant by encouraging people to leave reviews.
Use a Net Promoter Score
The Net Promoter Score (NPS) is a metric that measures customer loyalty and is calculated by asking customers one question: "How likely are you to recommend our company to a friend or colleague?"
It sends an important message to the business owner about how likely their customers are to recommend them.
The score ranges from 0-10, with 10 being the most loyal of recommendations and 0 being the least. A high NPS may be seen as a type of aspiration level in which companies strive for, while a low NPS may indicate that there needs to be improvement in order for customers to send more referrals.
Net Promoter Score is sometimes called a "single question," because it only requires a single response. For this reason, it is very easy to understand and results are quick to interpret.
Ensure that customers know they can provide feedback for improvement. You may come across some people who will be satisfied with the quality of service but unhappy about certain things such as noise levels or lack of seating.
If the number of people who would give negative feedback exceeds those giving positive or neutral feedback, it might be time for some new marketing techniques such as introducing different dishes, changing the restaurant layout to fit more people, or even re-evaluating your menu!
Implement a customer loyalty/referral program
The questions you should be asking yourself are:
- How often does this customer visit? Daily? Weekly? Monthly? Yearly?
- How long do they stay? 30 minutes? 1 hour? Longer?
- What do they order?
- Did they ever leave you a review?
- Have they ever reserved?
- Are they inviting their family, friends, or acquaintances too?
- How many people do they usually bring in?
When introducing a customer loyalty and referral program, you are directly telling your customers that you value their dedication to keep coming to you. You are essentially improving relationships with the most loyal customers.
- A loyalty program is a process in which a retail customer earns points when making purchases, and they typically receive an award such as a gift card or store credit when they reach a designated level of reward points. Customers redeem their rewards at checkout by providing their card.
- A referral program is a service or offer that rewards customers for introducing other potential customers to the company. It's as simple as giving a friend a discount for their order, and thus allowing them to try your restaurant.
Whether it is a buy one get one free drink, 50% off of their next meal, or two way deals with referrals, giving away something extra goes a long way when trying to drive people in the door. A good practice is to have a maximum amount of rewards given out, or make it exclusive.
You can do this by gathering and automating data on your clients either through reservation data, POS data, or directly asking them for their contact information. Then, you will be able to send promotions and offer a loyalty card to your regulars.
If you plan on directly asking them, find the right time to approach them. Do not disturb them while they are eating, or you might not get the chance. Try to do it when they are in between meals such as them waiting for dessert, or after they have paid for their check.
People are generally happy when you give them free things, so they will be more than willing to enter their contact information. And who knows, maybe it can lead to a future partnership down the road!
At the end of the day you are getting more for what you already have and cost cents on the dollar compared to traditional advertising channels like radio or TV ads. Not only that, but you are also building trust between your brand and customer base since they will learn to rely on their peers for suggestions about where to go.
Campaign effectiveness can be measured through sales data (real revenue), but you should also consider other metrics such as the number of new customers acquired from each campaign. Keeping track will help you determine what has worked and what hasn't by seeing which communication channels are most effective at encouraging happy customers.
Customer loyalty is essential in driving people into restaurants because it helps keep up a steady flow of customers. It is a long way when trying to drive foot traffic, so being organized and understanding your customers's buying habits will help you stay current with what they want!
Lastly, be sure to advertise this on social media. Let your followers know that you offer these programs and what benefits they can receive in the long term.
Stay in touch
Now that you know what you can do to keep your loyal customers, we will talk about your other customers because they are important too.
Staying in touch starts with following up with your customers after their stay. You don't have to directly find each and every one of your customers because you may not even have information on them. You can do a simple social media post or story encouraging your customers to comment and leave a review if possible on your page.
For those customers which you have their information, either send kind messages by email or mail (flyers), offer online shoutouts, or give them a brief call. If they don't answer, leave a message saying that you would appreciate their feedback on your website or social media and that you value the time they take to do so.
If you choose to start with flyers, make sure you are also reaching other people in your area. Usually, sending a range of 5000 to 10000 mailings can be sent for maximum return on investment (ROI). This is because you might not want to just target your loyal or existing customers and instead, welcome every potential customer.
If these methods don't seem appealing for whatever reason, then perhaps follow up with a short questionnaire. Make sure it has key information such as where they dined (hopefully during their stay), whether they are interested in any deals or promotions, if they would like to be contacted again, and just overall find out what you need to know about them.
Once the customer has completed it for you, thank them with an offer that is unique only for them! There might also be a couple of questions where there can't really be one answer- make sure to follow up with them for this too!
Being relatable is the key to staying in touch. Customers want someone who can relate and connect, not just some store front trying to sell you something. If they see that there's more than just a business relationship between you two then they are going to keep coming back.