The landscape of the restaurant business has changed considerably over the last two decades. Before the advent of technology, restaurateurs could rely solely on word-of-mouth marketing to build brand awareness and get patrons in the door.
But nowadays, it’s about much more than serving good food. The modern restaurant owner has to focus on creating an experience rooted in speed of service, ambiance, and convenience. In order to survive, these restaurants need to innovate and adapt to the changing trends and preferences of their customers.
To help boost customer engagement both online and offline, we’ve assembled a list of some of the top restaurant location strategies restaurant owners can implement today to get their businesses on the right track.
Design a professional-looking menu
Your menu is a critical component of your business. In many cases, the menu’s design is a reflection of the restaurant itself, and a leading factor in luring new customers to try out your creations. To ensure your menu is not just a list of dishes, but an effective advertising tool for your business, be sure to adhere to the following guidelines:
- Arrange menu items into logical groups
- Select colors and typography that are consistent with your brand
- Design a simple layout that’s easy to follow
Take to social media
We are living in an era where #food is one of the most widely used hashtags on Instagram, translating to more than 250 million posts per month.
Aside from being an efficient, cheap, and fast way to increase awareness, social media gives you the opportunity to connect directly with potential diners and build brand loyalty.
Plus, there are endless ways to highlight your restaurant—post crave-worthy photos, share updates about new menu items or daily specials, and make announcements about upcoming events. You can even create your own hashtags and encourage patrons to share their experiences with your brand.
Launch a customer loyalty program
If you’re not already offering rewards to loyal guests, now is the time to start.
When implemented correctly, a customer loyalty program can create a win-win scenario for all parties involved. For one, it keeps satisfied customers returning for future business and helps improve your restaurant’s sales numbers.
Here are some ideas to help you get started:
- Offer 50% off an entrée or appetizer after a certain number of visits
- Earn 10 points for each dollar spent. Once they reach a certain number of points, give them a free entrée
- Offer 15% off their meal and a free dessert on their birthday
The key is to offer attainable incentives to keep guests motivated to keep coming back for more.
Build a website
According to the National Restaurant Association, more than 80 percent of Americans look up restaurant locations, contact information, and hours of operation on their smartphones or tablets. And roughly half of all takeout or delivery orders are made directly on the restaurant’s own website.
As a restaurant owner, your number one goal is to bring in customers. By having a website, you increase the likelihood of engaging first-time customers, plus you open up the possibility of attracting a much larger market of consumers.
A well-designed website also gives you the chance to establish a local identity where you can show future customers exactly what your business is all about and what they can expect when they walk through your doors.
Make sure your website includes these items:
- Featured menu items
- Newsletter sign-up box
- Order online button
- Reservation button
- Icons that link to your social media pages
- About page
- Contact page
- Careers page
Run email marketing campaigns
One of the most commonly overlooked restaurant location strategies involves email marketing.
While there’s plenty of buzz around social media (and rightfully so), email marketing can deliver incredible results at a low cost. Not to mention, email is one of the easiest ways to reach your guests.
Want to stay top of mind to your customers? Put together an email list that customers can either fill out in-person or online. Then, send away! By seeing those special promotions in their inbox, they’ll be incentivized to come in and order from you. You can also use email marketing campaigns to showcase new additions to your menu and other exciting announcements.
Host an event
Holding an event at your establishment or virtually is a great way to capture the attention of potential patrons. Plus, it gives you a chance to interface directly with your guests and see first-hand how they feel about your food and your brand.
To encourage customers to choose your spot over a competitor’s, make sure to host events that promote a sense of connection and community. Here are a few examples:
- Live music
- Trivia nights
- Food or drink tastings
- Cooking lessons
- Holiday parties
- Professional luncheons
Team up with a delivery technology platform
Online ordering is one of the easier ways to drive sales. A recent study revealed that 88% of customers browse the internet first before making a reservation at a restaurant. Therefore, a reliable online ordering system means more opportunities for advertisement and promotion.
And today’s customers expect to have the option to order delivery from local restaurants. While partnering with a third-party technology platform that connects customers to the best local restaurants in their neighborhood may seem like a pricey marketing move, restaurants are actually experiencing a spike in revenue growth from using these services—up to a 20% increase across the industry.
A final note
Now that you’re equipped with several winning restaurant location strategies, we have no doubt that you’re ready to take your restaurant business to the next level. By investing time, energy, and a little creativity into your restaurant marketing efforts, you can grow your customer base, attract new clientele, and remain competitive.
Keep in mind—execution is everything!