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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

How to Increase Sales in Your Restaurant

                                   Increase Sales in Your Restaurant Business

I was recently reviewing some stats about one of the article directories and one of the most reviewed articles had to do with bringing repeat business to a restaurant.

In my previous post about Surveying your way to Success I mentioned how this simple, yet effective tactic can help your business.

Why? Because surveying is one of the simplest ways to increase sales in a restaurant and develop repeat customers that continue to return again and again.

Today’s topic and about increasing sales not only applies to restaurants but all small businesses who want to grow and increase sales.

Providing good service is one thing…Providing great service is an entirely different story altogether.

The restaurant business is tough enough as it is, so don’t make it tougher on yourself and your staff by looking for short cuts to increase sales.

Do not make it complicated, because it’s really a very simple formula.

Here it is:

Great Food plus Great Service equals satisfied customers who will return if you continue to treat them right.

Notice I didn’t say anything about price in that equation. Price was not mentioned at all but is important so make sure to pay attention to it.

So let’s stop looking and searching for the magic bullet that is going to make our restaurant overflow with repeat customers. Use the formula above and keep it simple.

Now let’s talk about a few of the missing ingredients that you can add to your service menu and begin to increase sales.

1. Personalization. The missing ingredient in almost every restaurant I have continued to frequent in the last 20 years is personalization. Yes, personalization.

How many times have you been back to your favorite restaurant yet none of the people  remember your name? This is a tragedy, yet so many establishments just don’t understand that a person’s name is very important to him or her.

I happen to frequent many of the same restaurants ….

One in particular – the owner remembers my client’s name and he’s friendly to me but never once that I can remember has be called me by name. He also does the same thing to my client’s sister, who also happens to be part owner of their business.

2. Connection. Once you personalize you can connect. Connect with your customers. Connection is the key. The Great food + Great Service = happy, satisfied, returning customer. Yes – if you really want repeat business the food has to be good to great and the service just as great. But the connection must happen along the way to crank up the repeat business machine.

Very few restauranteurs that I’ve run across are taking advantage of building solid relationships with their customers. At least in my travels I have rarely ever seen this.

So let’s stop looking and searching for the magic bullet that is going to make our restaurant overflow with repeat customers. Use the formula above and keep it simple.

Remember it’s all about your customers. You make them feel great, they tell their friends. You make them feel bad with inconsistencies in your food and service and they’ll tell their friends and possibly not frequent your establishment ever again. This is not new news but with social media, reviews, citation sites, texting and email means word spreads faster than ever before.

So it’s more important now than ever before that you work on providing the best experience to your customers, new and old. That’s what we did at The Tiny Store.

After all, it’s not about what you want – it’s about what they want.

Dave Krygier

Restaurant Marketing – Survey to Success

When it comes to the business of food there’s no better way to success than through the stomachs of your customers. After all you want to retain as many customers as possible, right? You want them returning weekly or monthly, right? Then quit wasting time and find out what they really like to eat! Find out what they want and desire to eat and survey your way to a growing repeat customer base.

Survey your way to success in your restaurant business and do what few other restaurant owners are willing to do. How do I know this? Because I travel a lot and what I’m sharing with you is rarely done, at least in the many different establishments I’ve frequented in the last 20 plus years.

Survey you say! Yes, and it’s really simple to do.

It’s what I did at SOTS. Surveying and tracking were one of The Secrets of The Tiny Store and these two were what enabled me to do what so few other companies in our industry had done before.

When it comes to restaurant marketing, simple surveys can be what separates you from the pack.

Here’s what you do:

Survey – Yourself.  Yes, you the big boss does the actual yakkin’ and asking! Just be yourself, friendly and ask some questions. Then when you get done, go back to your office or tablet, or notepad and write down the questions, answers, date and name of the customer. It’s a simple solution, especially if you run a small establishment and need immediate feedback.

Survey – Have managers and supervisors talk to your customers and then document what they say. It can be casual and friendly like inquiring about the service and what they thought of the meal.

Survey – By having your best employees or managers doing the actual survey for you. These employees can become your best allies as they ask customers simple questions and get real time feedback. Make sure to set up a reward or incentive program for the employees so you receive the most accurate information and they look forward to doing the work.

Survey – Using social ignitors before, during and after the meal. These little gems can bring repeat business if you go about it the right way. Give your customer a free appetizer or drink or something of value that says you care. Even offer to deduct something from the existing bill if they fill out a survey card right there in the restaurant, go online by a certain time or simply answer a few questions if they are open to do this.

It’s a simple process to survey. Keep it that way and learn what your customers like to eat and provide great service. It’s not rocket science.

To your restaurant’s success,

Dave Krygier

Secrets of The Tiny Store

PS – I have found that the email auto-responder can also be a great way to keep in touch with customers and do simple surveys just by asking a few questions at a time.