(More) Ways For Restaurants To Increase Sales (part Two)

14 Jul

GAINING NEW RESTAURANT CUSTOMERS

                             By Stu Leventhal

In this day and age it has become mandatory for any business wishing to compete in the market place to have a good internet presence. The communication technology has advanced so much that a restaurant business ignoring social media, email campaigns, blogging and advertising online cannot possibly keep pace with competitors who are internet suave.

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Going into all the many different opportunities the internet offers to capture your share of any market, would take a lot more time and space than what we have here in this article. Let’s just say, it is important for your restaurant to have a website, a blog, a Facebook fan page or two or three and a twitter account at the bare minimum. A presence on Pinterest, Google+, and management that is Linkedin, would be the next goal. And, it keeps going from there; Youtube, flicker…The list keeps getting bigger and bigger. And each of these platforms can produce customers for just about anyone who takes the time to learn the best methods of utilizing them. The problem is they all work differently and they all take time and effort to master and then implement.

Now is  good time to state that all our other sales tactics, marketing ideas,  promotion attempts and advertising must be posted and shared on as many of these big social media sites as we are using; Twitter and Facebook being priority number one! Every time you implement something new offline, you need to reinforce it through your online presence. Done properly, this will maximize each new promotional effort you implement because it will be magnified on all your different platforms.

Social media is an ongoing commitment. To be successful, you must start to view yourself as the social butterfly of your community. Heard it through the grapevine, must become heard it through your restaurant blog! Heard it on your Facebook page! Read it on your website! There are truly, tons of things to talk about. Once you accept the awkward rule of successful Social Networking which is never to post advertisements about yourself or your business on your own website or blog. This goes for all social media sites as well. It is considered tacky! If you insist on breaking this rule, soon no one will be reading your posts.

Now, since 90% or more of your posts have to be about something other than your own self-promotion and/or the promotion of your business that opens many doors for possible material for you to publish. Any topic of local interest is free game as well as national and international news and developments in your industry, field or specialty. Now I know you are getting tire of hearing everyone babble about how social media is the big new power when it comes to marketing and in particular internet marketing. I mean, really, how much can one restaurant blog about? Won’t a small local restaurant exhaust all its topics in about a month or two? So, how can we keep leveraging the power of the web, Facebook, Twitter and our blog?

  1. Utilize the power of the daily special – Taking the time to come up with innovative specials that change each day, allows you a daily opportunity to communicate with your customers. Letting everyone know todays special is a legitimate reason to Tweet, blog and text message! And since you connected your Twitter account and your blog to your Facebook account this allows you to update all of them at the same time rather quickly and without appearing too spammy.

Social Media is still the lowest costing advertising and marketing method you can find, mostly free except for you time and efforts. But yes, it is hard to come up with fresh, entertaining things to discuss all the time. So, now we have taken the pressure off, by establishing that we always have at least one post we can make every day; the daily special! Now all we have to do is add a few tid bits of info on something else and we’re done. Blog posts don’t need to be huge.

  1. Chef tips – posting some general kitchen, cooking and/or dining advice is a way to keep your customers interest. Time saving food prep tricks, recipes, health info calories, fat content etc. food storage tips, reheat info and food safety advice; all make appropriate topics.
  2. New staff members names and a short few lines stating their role or position as well as a few lines about them. And, you can blog and post about crew members too, it doesn’t have to only pertain to key employees like chefs and upper management. Remember the best social media posts are friendly and informal posts. Your customers are interested in learning more about your wait staff, bartenders and prep-cooks too.

Any good marketer will tell you that besides finding new customers you must also not only continue to satisfy the needs of your current customers but also convince them to purchase more. You need them to visit and dine more as well as bring their friends and recommend your establishment to everyone they know!

  1. The trick to getting your customers not to opt out of your email list and your social media platforms is to create some social media only events and offers. Reward your loyal customers for taking the time to engage with you via your social media sites. Post discounts that they can only access on your Facebook pages. Tweet a special offer! Create fun contests where they can win free deserts, such as, the first to answer a trivia question placed on your blog or website wins a free meal. Leave them a funny line or two of a poem that must be recited to their server when they place their lunch order (today only) to get half price. Make it fun! This will keep them looking forward to your next posts, tweets and blogs. Plus post the names of the winners (with their permission of course, so they have to log back in, to see who won.) It could be their next door neighbor.
  2. Have a special event just for your social media participants. Shut off a section of the restaurant and serve free appetizers. Rent a few big screen TVs for a special sports game. Again, they have to print the invite ticket online to get in.
  3. The same goes for getting your opt/in customers to actually open their emails you send them. Once they realize you periodically send email contests that can only be entered with the emailed code, they will joyfully open all your emails in the hopes of another contest. Again make the contests timely, the first 5 people to answer correctly win a glass of wine or a dessert.
  4. Customer surveys are another great way to get even more out of your social media. Ask for feedback on your new menu items and how their last visit was service wise. How can we serve you better suggestions are always good and helpful. Keep the questions short and to the point or most won’t take the time to fill them out. Yes or no, multiple choice and rate us from one to five are the best survey type questions.

Stay tune for part three of WAYS FOR RESTAURANTS TO INCREASE SALES. We will be discussing some neat and unique offline methods; Loyalty Programs, Bounce Back Promotion, holiday parties and much, much, more…

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