Every Restaurant Must Grow to Survive ...

Check Out These 11 Ways to Attract More Customers to Your Location

For restaurant owners seeking to expand their business, you have come to the right place.

The marketing strategists at iEatery understand and use today’s most effective tactics and techniques to get your restaurant recognized across multiple social media platforms to attract new customers and create repeat customers.

Toward that end, we have identified 11 strategic measures that are extremely effective and highly recommended. We suggest using all of them. Those tactics include:

Every Restaurant Must Grow to Survive
  • Invest in SEO
  • Maximize your use of social media
  • Encourage online reviews from customers
  • Create an email list and use it
  • Partner with local businesses and organizations
  • Offer discounts on slow nights
  • Host big events
  • Feature an inclusive menu
  • Provide Free Wi-Fi
  • Offer gift cards
  • Develop a loyalty program

If this piques your curiosity, here are some additional details about each tactic:

Invest in SEO: The primary method used for customers to find a restaurant close to them is a Google search. That means any restaurant that does not rank highly for local search requests will be hard-pressed to serve enough customers to remain in business for the long-haul.

The solution is to enhance your SEO, and improving a restaurant’s SEO begins with creating a presence on Google My Business. A strong standing with Google will help your restaurant surface quickly when someone searches for “restaurant near me” or restaurants in a particular city.

To get the most out of your online efforts, make sure your on-page SEO includes all of the 11 important elements on this handy checklist. One important thing to remember: Improved SEO rankings don’t occur overnight. Take the necessary steps, however, and you will be rewarded over time.

Maximize Your Use of Social Media: In today’s business climate, some of the most powerful ways to reach customers is through social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Pinterest and Twitter. These are ideal places to showcase enticing images of your food, offer discount coupons or promote upcoming events at your restaurant. The best place to start is Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, where the impact of your marketing efforts typically will be felt more quickly.

Encourage Online Reviews from Customers: Without question, customer reviews determine the success of any restaurant. That is why you must be active in encouraging customers to post reviews of your restaurant on Yelp, Google and other review platforms. The more reviews, the better. It is essential that you establish a presence on the top online review channels and develop a strategy to respond to negative reviews to defuse their impact. The ability to respond to negative feedback in a classy, positive manner is an asset for every restaurant owner or manager.

Create an E-mail List and Use It: There is no better way to spread the word about your restaurant and its latest menu offerings and specials than to alert customers and potential customers through an e-mail update. That is why digital marketers have developed an adage that says, “The money is in the list.”

Without question, you get the undivided attention of customers when you can reach them with targeted e-mails. The key, of course, is building that list. To do that, a recommended starting point is to offer online ordering. With each of those orders, you will automatically collect an e-mail address from that customer.

Other subtle-but-effective ways to collect e-mail addresses is by allowing requests for online seating reservations or by placing a “subscribe” button on your website that captures that individual’s e-mail when they hit the button. Creating a way to collect e-mails in person, from feedback forms, contests and on-site reviews, are also useful.

Once you have created an e-mail list, you need to use it regularly to remind customers of upcoming specials, menu tweaks and more. Use it to send birthday greetings, perhaps offering a free appetizer or free drink to the birthday recipient. Just be careful that you don’t overwhelm customers with too many e-mails. One or two e-mails per month are plenty. Anything more than that could be considered pestering.

Partner with Local Businesses and Organizations: For a growing restaurant, becoming a weekly or monthly gathering spot for local businesses or organizations can be a game-changer. Many businesses establish catering deals with restaurants for phone-in orders in which lunch is provided during special events or business meetings. Even if catering is not one of your goals, offering special deals to members of the local Kiwanis Club, Optimist Club or some other civic group is a great way to get your name known and possibly become a destination for their regular luncheons.

Offer Discounts on Slow Nights: Empty tables generate no revenue. That is why you should offer value-added experiences to diners on Monday through Thursday nights to stimulate business. It could be a free appetizer, a 20% discount on the total bill or a 2-for-1 special on entrees. You could even offer competitions for in-house diners that lead to free food items or discounts on their next visit. Whatever you choose, be sure to promote your discount campaign on all of your social media platforms.

Host Big Events: Every restaurant is full on Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, New Year’s Eve, St. Patrick’s Day and other “big event” days on the calendar when couples, friends and families tend to celebrate. So why not create your own “big event” once in a while to boost your own business?

Offer a weeknight wine tasting or a free cooking demonstration for diners, then promote it on all of your social media platforms occasion to get the word out. Big events provide customers a “value-added” experience and make them want to come back to your restaurant for a more intimate dining experience.

Feature an Inclusive Menu: Be sure that your menu has something to offer for ALL potential diners: vegans, vegetarians, children, senior citizens, and those who have special dietary needs. In every large group, you can count on having a customer with unique needs, whether it is gluten-free fare, a specific food allergy or organic ingredients. Catering to those with unique dietary needs is the fastest way to turn them into regular customers.

Provide Free Wi-Fi: In today’s totally connected world, diners demand internet access to their phones on a 24/7 basis. If your restaurant does not provide free Wi-Fi, many customers will seek out your competitor who does and take their business there. The good news is that Facebook lets any restaurant set up a free Wi-Fi option using their Facebook page. Find out how to add yours by consulting our Facebook WiFi guide.

Offer Gift Cards: Diners use gift cards throughout the year, not just during the holiday season. What better way to celebrate a birthday, an anniversary or a new job than to allow customers to buy their loved ones a meal at your restaurant by purchasing a gift card? As pre-paid items, gift cards are excellent boosters of cash flow because all of them are purchased but only a percentage of them are redeemed. Instagram offers assistance in creating and selling restaurant gift cards.

Develop a Loyalty Program: There is no greater asset for a restaurant than a satisfied, repeat customer. A great way to keep diners coming back for more is through a restaurant loyalty program that provides future discounts or free meals while making customers feel valued.

This may require assistance from a marketing agency or POS provider, but it’s an enticement that most diners will value, whether you use a mobile app or a stamp system on a business card. Our proven professionals at iEatery can help you with this or any other SEO need.