7 Creative Ways To Bring New Customers Into Your Restaurant
Restaurants seem to come and go like the weather. One minute they’re thriving with customers non-stop, and the next they’re barer than a maple tree in December. So what’s the key to success for the restaurants that are still standing after years and even decades? The answer is simple: keep the customers coming.
The problem is, with the increasing number of options—and often increasing rent prices—you may be finding it hard to stand out from the other guys. You can’t lower your prices any more without having to lay someone off, and the threat of closing looms week to week. You’re confident in your menu, so what gives?
Here are a few ways that you can help freshen things up at your restaurant without compromising on what you do best. Give them a try, and get ready for a change in weather.
Make an E-Offer They Can’t Refuse
For starters, get online. That theme will come up more than once in this post. The best way to develop your “personality” as a restaurant is going to come from your presence online. That starts with getting the word out on a site that people are already browsing.
With companies like Groupon, LivingSocial, and the myriad other deal sites thriving online, e-coupons are one of the fastest ways to earn new customers. For couples looking to try a new spot, an online coupon can be the perfect selling point on why they should try your restaurant,
At the very least, they’ll be seeing the name of your restaurant on a popular site, helping to strengthen your brand recognition. At best, you’ve gained a few new regulars.
Embrace The Reviews
Good, bad, or indifferent, online reviews are here to stay. The Yelp monster is very real for a lot of businesses, and a couple of bad reviews can really begin to spoil business if not handled properly. Our suggestion for bad reviews online? Embrace them!
Bolt Barbers—a barber shop in Los Angeles and Las Vegas—had been getting quite a number of seemingly uncalled for negative reviews online. Instead of backing down, or caving under the pressure of Internet outrage, they took a much more confident approach and made their bad Yelp reviews a gimmick:
More than a year later, the shop is still thriving and gaining a loyal following of people who love their contrarian attitude. Sometimes a little self confidence is all you need.
Broadcast Football Events—And Not Just the American Ones!
Have you found that you have a lot of “football” fans in your area? One of the greatest challenges for European and South American Soccer fans living in different parts of the States can be finding places to watch their favorite clubs play live. That’s often because games can be broadcast at as early as 4am here in the U.S.
Here are a few Facebook posts from The Olde Ship Restaurant in Santa Ana, CA:
Even if you aren’t allowed to serve alcohol, you can open up your restaurant extra early for special football match viewings, and serve breakfast. Make it a special event that the whole community can be excited about. It’s something different, totally uncommon, and sure to be a hit amongst soccer buffs pining for the true fans’ experience.
Start a Cooking Class
If you’ve got a kitchen staff you’re truly proud of, a cooking class can be one of the best ways to showcase your talent to a whole new set of potential customers. Cooking classes are an exceptionally popular idea for couples and friends looking to try something different—but often they’re inaccessible and far too expensive for beginners.
Host a cooking class that’s low-key, beginner friendly, and shows off the best of your menu. It will get your “students” excited about what’s going on in your kitchen and create a whole new enthusiasm for what you’re making!
In the world of mass production, questionable practices and corporate suspicion, going local can be a great way to build roots in your neighborhood. Source your ingredients from local farms and producers, and instantly gain credibility in your community.
When you value the people that are working hard around you to make a living, they’ll love you right back. Neighbors know how important local sourcing can be for the community, and it’s a great way to promote not only relationships, but great food, too!
And if you’re not as close to the farm, but you’re right around the corner from some skyscrapers, corporate partnerships can be a surefire way to stir up new business.
Large companies are often looking for good companies to cater in-office lunches, holiday parties and product launches. If you can create relationships with the big guys, you could have a whole new outlet for your business.
Reach out to businesses in your neighborhood with the prospect of catering their next corporate lunch. You’ll be surprised to see how many companies are itching for your great food.
Get On Seamless
You don’t deliver? Well, now you can. If you’re serving a major city, Seamless may be the best way for you to reach customers of all kinds in a snap. Seamless is an online-based delivery service where customers can create their entire order in just a few clicks—and have someone pick it up in a flash.
Getting your restaurant on Seamless can mean reaching demographics you’d otherwise totally miss. From hungry college students just looking for a snack, to young paralegals working a case late into the night. It’s a solution that doesn’t require adding on personnel or spending extra cash to get started.
Whatever you do, remember this: no matter how great of place you’ve created, you’re nothing without your customers. Go the extra mile in doing creative things to get people excited about your amazing restaurant. Then once they’re in, they’ll see the greatness you knew was there all along.
Chad Halvorson is the CEO of When I Work, an employee scheduling app that nearly half a million people in over 50 countries rely on for employee scheduling, time clock and communication. When I Work uses an innovative blend of collaborative communication technologies, including the web, mobile apps, text messaging, social media, and email, to make teams more efficient, more accountable, and better prepared. Most traditional workforce management software is clunky, cumbersome and difficult to install and maintain. When I Work is a simple, intuitive, mobile-first solution that owners and managers can implement and start using in five minutes, not five months—no IT required.