Even during so-called ‘normal’ times, running a successful restaurant is daunting. Profitability in the hospitality industry is challenging to achieve given the high costs of rent, labor, and ingredients.
When tough economic times strike, restaurants are among the first to suffer as people cut luxuries, such as eating out, from their budgets. The recent slowdown caused by Covid-19 and the lockdown regulations that followed is unprecedented. How can you ensure your restaurant survives and continues thriving?
Restaurant owners need to be innovative to stay ahead of the competition. This could mean menu changes or additions at short notice. A decade or two ago, this would have posed a logistical nightmare, with managers printing out flyers to add to the existing menu or having it redone entirely. Digital signage means that this is no longer the case. Mandoe has a digital signage creation and management software solution that is easy to implement and can adjust digital signs within seconds.
Similarly, marketing campaigns can be altered with ease when conducted digitally. Social media marketing is essential for successful restaurants. Use sponsored or paid ads to target local residents, telling them about your eatery and the specials it is running.
Most diners enjoy a sense of familiarity with an eatery. Your restaurant should be working hard to ensure that existing customers return and never consider eating elsewhere.
For example, consider a loyalty card system. These systems are not that expensive to set up and operate, and they will bear long-term fruits. Research what loyalty rewards your competition offers. You then have the choice of following suit or developing a new innovative approach.
Grow a customer database by collecting contact details from diners. Send out emails to advertise your latest promotions. To incentivize your customers, offer them a promotion code that entitles them to a discount or free dessert. Diners like feeling valued, and offering them rewards is one of the easiest ways to do this.
Diners also enjoy individual service and being recognized when they enter your establishment. Getting this right requires managers and wait staff to get to know customers and find out about them. Usually, this is accomplished by offering outstanding service and paying attention to what diners say and do.
For some customers, remembering their birthday with a short text or email makes a difference, ensuring their repeat business. Others like walking in and being shown to their regular table and being asked if they would like to have ‘the usual’ to drink. When you make a restaurant feel like a home away from home, people will continue visiting it.
Do not cut prices
While reducing prices is one way to get more customers in your restaurant, it should not be your only marketing strategy. It is a tempting approach as it typically has immediately noticeable effects.
However, a marketing strategy that focuses on quality and value for money will allow you to continue asking the same price. Your marketing endeavors should create a perception among customers that the prices you charge are worth paying.
Bars have happy hours, and restaurant owners that look for a similar promotion idea often experience great success. Several ideas may appeal to you but do not implement too many of them at once. Instead, experiment with them until you find a balance that draws customers into your restaurant on a sustainable basis.
For example, have a senior’s breakfast morning where older adults get to eat a sumptuous breakfast at a reduced price. This demographic is highly proficient at word-of-mouth marketing, which costs you nothing.