Great food, customer service and ambiance are some of the important ingredients that make a restaurant successful.
However, many restaurants stop there and don’t use technology to implement active marketing to current and prospective customers as much as they should.
Ron Wilkinson of the Restaurant Marketing Group says that good food at a restaurant alone will not build the sales for a restaurant. The most important thing is to have effective customer relationships. You must make one-on-one relationships with each of your customers. The three methods (noted above) for marketing will help accomplish this goal whether you’re a restaurant or a small business of any type.
In this guest column he writes that email marketing to your customers is a good way to communicate with them because it is free. However, email alone will only reach 20-30% of your customers. You can increase the percentage through social media like Facebook and Twitter if you have time to send a couple of messages a week and can set up a following of your loyal customers. But, This type of marketing must be consistent.
A great website is a strong asset for a restaurant or any business and the web address should be part of every email and/or direct mail advertisement. You can even use a “plug-in” that will allow you to have your customers enroll in your VIP Club at your website.
However, it’s important to remember that many of your customers may not be heavily involved in the internet and Websites. Even many who are receive so many e-mails, tweets, and Facebook messages that they read only a small percentage.
That’s why I recommend that you also include direct mail as part of your marketing. Direct mail will get you in front of the other 70 to 80% of your potential customers. And even though it’s not free, if you do it right it’s very profitable.
Whether you use e-mail, direct mail, or any other media, recognize and reward your customers on their birthdays and create at least one additional marketing event each week.
The biggest single challenge that a restaurant has today is the affects of the economy. Everywhere you turn there is doom and gloom. Unemployment is at an all time high and nearly everyone is looking for ways to cut back. The government is bailing out the insurance companies, banks and the automobile industry, and it doesn’t seem to be helping small business.
It is very hard if not impossible to get a bank loan for any small business.
How can your customers afford to eat out? Your job as a restaurant owner is to help the potential customers see how and why they can come to your restaurant and relax and enjoy a fine meal.
Ron writes that three, “non-technology” ways restaurants can help to ensure a steady stream of customers is as follows:
- They have outstanding food and terrific service. This will create word of mouth advertising where the current customers would tell their family, friends and business associates.
- Establish a VIP Club and have a system for gathering contact information i.e. the names, and contact information of current customers including email, street address, phone, birthdays and the anniversary of couples, etc. You must regularly communicate with your current customers two to three times a month through email and/or direct mail.
- You must establish a system to continually bring new customers into the restaurant i.e. New Mover programs, Charities and FundRaising, as well as direct contacts within 3 to 5 miles around the restaurant with businesses, schools, churches, etc.
All of these three suggestions can be support by technology