You don’t need high overhead to promote your restaurant with a high return. You just need a little creativity and some elbow grease, along with the Internet, to start filling tabletops during happy hour. Here are some of the best ideas for promoting your restaurant with a small marketing budget.
You Don’t Need Money to Sell More Entrees
You know the adage, “You have to spend money to make money.” With the Internet and social media, that isn’t the case if you’re trying to promote your restaurant. Sure, money can buy you banner advertising, but there are also creative ways you can use free online tools to draw people in. But the trick is you need to do it consistently.
Build Your Brand
For example, blogging is a low-cost way to build your brand name. The trick is to write blogs that are interesting and useful to your customers. Then promote those blogs on social media outlets like Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram. Easy posts can include eye-appealing pictures of your food or of happy diners (only post these pictures with their permission, of course). You can promote your commitment to locally-sourced food or healthy alternatives like meatless Mondays.” Try tying your menu into national events, like Veteran’s Day (Show your military ID for 25% off) or Thanksgiving (Turkey dinner and all the fixings), or something else that ties into your restaurant’s theme. You could even share recipes for some of your favorite meals.
You should closely monitor customer reviews of your dining experience on Yelp, Google, or other social outlets. Always respond to customers that post and thank them for their reviews. You could even offer your customer’s a coupon if they review your restaurant. You can invite more reviews with a simple card left with the bill asking customers for their help in promoting your business.
Beyond the Internet, look to improving your customer experience to keep patrons coming back. If you feel like you need to monitor your restaurant on the days you’re not there, consider asking your family members and friends to visit with a critical eye toward how their servers treat them, food quality, and overall service. On the days you’re in the restaurant, simply walking around and asking guests about their experience is a simple but effective way to show patrons how much you appreciate their business. Give each table a business card with a percentage off coupon if they bring a friend for lunch. If you’re promoting breakfast with a business crowd, try free coffee refills on Monday morning to get them ready for the week.
Say Thank You
Speaking of customer appreciation, what about creating a “give back” day to say thanks for the community’s support each year. You could offer a discount on food or a free dessert or buy one get one. Another idea you can implement is to promote the event on social media, with signs in the restaurant, and even with small flyers. You can also ask customers if they would be willing to receive coupons in their email inbox, and if so, add their email to a simple Excel spreadsheet. Emailing patrons with a discount coupon will keep them coming back for more.
If you find that staffing is creating an issue with the patronage of your restaurant, contact the hospitality staffing experts at Gecko Hospitality. We understand your business and can help you find the right team.