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How to Market a Restaurant that Could… Not!

It’s a really bad day when I hear about another small business that is going to close down and shut its doors to never open again; especially when it’s a fairly new restaurant in my own neck of the woods. The sad thing is that this restaurant I am referring to was one we were looking to work with, but the owner refused to get together with us to help him drive traffic and new business.

Over the past 6 to 9 months I’ve been watching the show Restaurant Impossible on the Food Network along with a few other shows with similar formats. What drew me to this show is the simple fact that these small businesses seem to be so close to going under, and then Chef Robert Irvine comes in in just a few days to save the establishment.

What’s been so intriguing about the RI show and the others that are similar to it is the simple fact that there are so many restaurants failing throughout the USA. It really blew my mind when I saw that there were four shows having to do with restaurants in trouble and then a local restaurant by our home went under along with a few others.

Should we have done something different in the ways of prospecting? Maybe so, but at this stage of the game, getting to a restaurant owner who thinks he has it all figured out is like attempting to break up pavement with a hammer.

Here are few steps you can take so you Know How to Market a Restaurant, Increase Sales and Avoid Losing Customers:

  1. Track your food costs.
  2. Create and Implement a Staff Manual. 
  3. Survey your Customers. It’s cheap and will open your eyes.
  4. Setup & Optimize Listings on Urban Spoon, Trip Advisor, Google and Yahoo. This is the short list.
  5. Market your Restaurant via Mobile. This means phones and tablets, so you’ll need an optimized site that is easily viewable and clickable.

Now even with these tips and suggestions we share with you here at Click and Mortar Blog and at Small Biz Mechanix, you still might get stuck or even very frustrated.

I mean even the Restaurant Impossible crew could come in and fix your place of food and beverage, and you still might fail or have continued trouble, if you don’t change your mindset, staff, food or marketing.

That’s right…

You, the owner or manager, need to start with your way of thinking and this takes work and time.

In one case, RI did their thing and supposedly fixed the ailing, failing restaurant but some thing didn’t gel or setup correctly and this establishment ended up with some bad reviews after the fact. This is really sad considering that the owner had a fresh start and lots of momentum created by a crew that knows how to set things straight.

So, I would recommend that you, Mr./Mrs./Miss Owner or Manager, review the tips above, look in the mirror and then get busy!

To your restaurant’s success,

Dave Krygier

PS:  BTW – if you really want to know how to market a restaurant and increase sales, connect with The Small Biz Mechanics and they’ll set you up. 🙂

How to Market Your Restaurant Online – 5 Tips You can Use Today

When it comes to restaurant marketing it surprises me how many establishments just don’t seem to understand the power of online reviews and what their customers are saying about them.

This past fall I found myself meeting with a local restaurant owner that had some serious issues with the bad reviews that one of his many restaurants was experiencing.

In this particular case the restaurant we met at was one that I had frequented since it first opened, and overall the food was pretty good. Certain items on the menu had become favorites and pricing was pretty reasonable. But when it came to service, this is where I felt the ball was being dropped. Sometimes the service was pretty decent and other times it just seemed mediocre.

The one big thing that stuck out in my mind was that I didn’t know who the manager was? In all of my visits to this restaurant I had never been able to pinpoint or determine who was actually overseeing the restaurant?

So I decided to contact the owner to see if he was interested in meeting to discuss my findings and he agreed to get together. Now this took a few times and ultimately a combination of a phone call & text message got the owner to sit down one Saturday afternoon.

It was a pretty short meeting and as we were wrapping up he said something to the affect of, “Usually when I get done with a marketing meeting I’m not excited, but this time I am really excited.”

The ‘exciting part’ was that this owner now understood that he had a problem and it could be fixed. The question remained as to whether he would take action in-house or hire us to do the clean up? More on this in a future article.

So let’s get back to How to Market your Restaurant Online.

I mean how does one go about promoting online and getting the word out about the great food, service and whatever else it is you bring to the table?

Here are my Five Tips you can put into use today:

1. Create and Setup Profiles on the top citation sites, search engines and social media outlets. Once the profile is created, make sure to continually optimize it so reviewers are kept up to speed about your establishment.

2. Monitor each and every one of these Citation Websites, search engines and social media outlets for reviews about your restaurant.

3. Promote Citation Sites that have credibility and your customers are posting to about your business. In other words, if your customers are mostly using Urbanspoon or Tripadvisor, make sure your profile is optimized(with video and pictures – where permitted), you are responding to reviews, and consider testing some advertising on mobile devices.

4. Utilize Social Media outlets to attract, create buzz, and connect with both prospects and existing customers. This is more than the occasional post or tweet. It takes daily effort, so consider having a few different people work on this. Plus you can 

5. Get a Mobile App for your restaurant and promote it to your customers both on and offline. This will pay dividends if your app is developed correctly and you use the promotional features.

In closing, how do you market your restaurant online and really make it work?

Use the five suggestions above and then tap into as many online sources as you can afford to invest your time and money into. This way you can test each source and find out which ones drive the most traffic and bring the right kind of prospects to your table.

Until next time,

Dave Krygier

PS – Should you get stuck or need a little help with marketing your restaurant online, The Small Biz Mechanic has the latest recipes to help you get there.

How to Market a Small Restaurant

How to market a small restaurant is not as difficult as it seems and in this day and age if your food is really good and the service is good to great, then your chances for success will most likely increase.

It all starts with the vision of the owner. If this is you and you aren’t skilled and experienced with marketing, then find someone (a solo-specialist) or a team to develop a plan and help implement it.

The restaurant business is tough as it is and you need every advantage to make your establishment grow and prosper. So the people that you surround yourself with are very important.

So here are the real basics of how to market a small restaurant:

1. Planning: You can wing it or you can plan it. I prefer the plan it method. Just like you plan your menu and the ingredients that you put in your food. Keep the plan simple while being flexible enough to adjust where and when necessary.

2. Operations: Always remember that you need a certain number of customers coming through the door every day that you open. Plus you need a certain income per day in order to keep the establishment open for business. Make sure you know what these numbers are including food costs and daily labor, otherwise it’s really hard to test and invest in marketing. Without tight controls all the marketing and promotion will go up in smoke.

3. Service: Once customers arrive in your world – treat them like friends and make their experience so enjoyable that they want to come back and will refer their sphere of influence your way. I call this ‘breaking into the sphere’ and it’s pretty easy to do if you have good to great service. This ‘BITS’ program builds repeat business and grows the small business clientele.

Ok – enough of the basics – now let’s get down to brass tacks:

Wanna know how to market a small restaurant? Here are a few out of the box ideas to help give you a boost:

1. The Bait: Do what this owner did and go around to all the local businesses and give away free sandwiches or whatever you offer on the menu. Along with the free food make sure to bring some menus and an incentive card that gives the prospect a reason to come visit your establishment. Now some will say that’s a lot of money, Dave! That’s the wrong attitude to have my friend. Remember, it’s all about getting to your customers stomach and there’s no better way to do this than through a personal visit with free food or beverages.

2. The Survey Method: If your small restaurant is located around other businesses, take a day or two and go meet and greet the owners, managers and employees. Take a survey with you and if possible some food samples. Ask simple, direct questions and be friendly. The idea here is to find out what your potential customer’s needs are and what they would be interested in. The survey is powerful and will tell you a lot if you line up the questions and keep it informal.

3. PR & The Local Media: Use your local media outlets to help promote your small establishment. Remember – everyone needs to eat, even the gal on TV and the guy who writes his column in your paper or news website. Make a connection. Get feedback. And customize a sandwich or appetizer just for the individual.

How you market your small restaurant doesn’t have to be through conventional methods or channels. The bottom line here is that the more you think outside the box and test, the more you’ll learn about your customers and be able to market to them.

Need more marketing food to bring those hungry customers into your small restaurant?
The SmallBiz Mechanic may have just what you need. Touch bases and see what he can cook up for you in his customized marketing kitchen.

To your small restaurant success,

Dave Krygier