(In As Little As 60 Days)
There is no reason a good local restaurant or bar should lack sufficient customers…. every analysis of a poor performing restaurant in Yorkshire comes down to a lack of fresh targeted promotions.
It’s usually the case that either the restaurant lacks regular promotions OR the promotions have grown stale or too similar to what competitors offer.
All of this can be changed. You can turn your restaurant around very quickly with dynamic promotions, or move a steady performer up even further.
Restaurant owners are always searching for new and fresh restaurant promotion ideas…and so, what follows are a list of tested and proven restaurant promotions designed to double business in as little as 60 days.
There’s only one requirement to make all this work; An Open Mind. You need a willingness to experiment and not be afraid to have something fail.
Some restaurant owners and managers feel that once they have tried something, it’s history.
If their results were poor, they don’t consider trying again. That can be a mistake…doing it a different way can often produce much improved results.
The restaurant industry has been conditioned to believe that only traditional restaurant promotion efforts can be applied to grow sales because it’s what everyone else is doing.
Fact is, the restaurant industry is getting more competitive and will continue to do so. In the face of increased competition, the most effective strategy is to differentiate your restaurant from the others and create excitement in a way that reinforces your positioning strategy.
Again, these promotions are only gimmicky if they are created that way; it’s entirely possible to execute these promotions in a way that is completely in alignment with the image of your restaurant, no matter how exclusive.
Remember, differentiation and exciting tactics like the ones described below are especially potent for your food and beverage operations.
Smart marketing is best achieved through non-traditional techniques that are executed inside your restaurant and among your existing customer base. Restaurant promotion opportunities abound if you look at your situation through the right lens.
1. Create a Customer Email Database
Create a tempting offer, like a discount coupon, or a free desert or free drink to collect customer emails. Use that to send daily offers and specials. Send the offers in the morning and certainly before noon when lunch hour has already begun. Don’t forget to put some tasty pictures and water mouth descriptions of offered food and drinks.
When you build customers database you get a best tool for direct marketing strategies for your restaurant promotion. When compared with direct mail marketing, email marketing is faster and more efficient, saves paper, reduces marketing expenses and is more likely to convert to a sale.
2. Birthday Emails
I get an email from Starbucks every year on my birthday. They remind me to come in and order any drink on the house. It’s a nice way to start the morning!
It’s surprising that more restaurants don’t do this. Sure, they may offer free birthday stuff, but it’s the reminder that really gets people in the door. If anything, at least you’re connecting with customers on a personal level.
Birthday customers are great because they usually travel in groups. If you offer a free drink or dessert, you’ll be getting the extra business of friends and family who are along for the celebration
The more locally-oriented and personal your restaurant, the better a birthday email strategy works.
3. Brand Your Recipes
Your recipes are the pride of your business. Brand them outside of your restaurant to reach a new market.
A recent experience got me thinking about this. I’m signed up for a produce delivery service run by a group of local farmers. Each week they send a surprise selection of whatever fruits and vegetables are in season. They just recently started sending recipes with the delivery, custom-made to fit the ingredients in the box.
This would be a fantastic opportunity for a local restaurant. Instead of having the farmers design the recipes themselves, they could ask a local chef to contribute custom ideas. The restaurant’s name would be included in the recipe title. Its unique cases like this that restaurants should look out for.
You can also brand your recipes by contributing to a local cookbook or blog, or starting your own blog with a special ‘recipe release’ each month. You could even make signature meals and sell them ready-made at the local grocery or gourmet store.
A great success story in recipe branding is Vikram Vij. He started out as the owner of a small restaurant in Vancouver, and has expanded by branding his recipes with a line called Vij’s at Home. He’s also published a couple of cookbooks. It’s all adding to the buzz around his restaurant locations in Vancouver and Seattle.
4. Distribute Flyers About Your Specials
Ideally the offer/Special should last at least for 10 to 14 days and make the conversation with you potential customers friendly and open. Treat them as partners, not as strangers.
Flyers with your new offer should be professionally designed and contain enough information so the customer can have all the important details. Also, don’t stick flyers under windshield wipers. The point is to present yourself and your restaurant in person, instead of being an anonymous and uncaring.
5. Expand The Happy Hour Menu
Most Happy Hours run from the early afternoon until early evening. That’s fine as far as it goes, but it may pay to expand the hours, the menu offerings and adjust pricing, too. It’s definitely worth a quick check of your nearest competitors to see when their Happy Hours schedule.
Of course, the price of food and drink is a key purchase factor for many consumers… and strategic Happy Hours are one way to address that.
46% from all surveyed were attracted with low prices of drinks during Happy Hour program in restaurants, and 41% thought that law prices of food during “happy hour” are really great reason to come and visit certain restaurant during happy hour. (source: restaurant.org).
Regardless of whether you’re the owner of an exclusive restaurant with full service, fast food restaurant, cafes, lounge bar or nightclub, your Happy Hour can be adjusted to any catering facility, bring something new and make it more appealing to its guests.
The most successful owners of restaurants and bars develop a unique formula for promotion of Happy Hour. Your job is to figure out what you will offer to your guests during “happy hour.
It’s important to sell the right thing, the right way.
• Include Happy Hour as part of special events in your restaurant. If you organize “Italian evening”, offer all kinds of pastes at half of price.
• In addition to quality, guests in your restaurant are attracted with quantity. The Happy Hour program should include extra-large portions that promise a full stomach or extra glass of wine or beer. There are lot of those who will love this!.
• Animate your guests to take their partners or friends in restaurant whit them, offer free meal for partner or special friend during “happy hour”
• Organize wine testing!
• Promote different customer service during this hours like preparing food in front of the guest, hot stone or raclette
• Put in your offer special drink (or a complete menu), that your guest could try only during happy hour.
Happy Hour Special Menu
A Special Happy Hour program should include drinks, cocktails and simple dishes such as sandwiches and other small snacks.
If your guests love to eat special steak that your chef prepares with lots of love, then put it in your happy hour offer at an affordable price or give some extra side dishes with it or amazingly abundant portion!
It’s important to adapt your special offer to your regular customers when ever possible.
Your Happy Hour program should offer much more than a discount on a meal or drinks. That’s’ the great failing of many Happy Hours today.
Innovative, Creative ideas can often serve you better than discounts.
The perfect time for Happy Hour differs from one establishment to another.
As a general rule it’s not necessary to promote Happy Hour program during days such as Friday, Saturday and Sunday, because customers will visit anyway. At least that’s the commonly accepted wisdom.
However, if a day like Sunday is notoriously slow, it may be worth trying a Happy Hour Special.
Lunchtime is a great time for Happy Hour program, especially if your restaurant is located in the city center or near downtown. Just remember those hungry people who can not wait to get out for a break to eat a quality meal – that is available at an affordable price at your place.
Restaurants and Lounges can offer a variety of Happy Hour Specials.
Just some examples: (all worth trying out)
• From Sunday to Thursday offer Jumbo cocktails at same lower price.
• Every day between 6 pm and 8 pm offer to your guests cocktails at half price, and even during Fridays and Saturdays start your happy hour at 5 pm!.
• Every night after 11 offer special price for Jumbo cocktails and make it available at the price of normal size cocktails.
You can see that you can design happy hour during different parts of the day, and that you can change your offer for different food or different drinks.
Predictable boring specials get poor results…it pays to be different and experiment.
And, understanding the customer’s motivations, their leisure schedule and their budgets often ends up being the biggest key to restaurant growth.
A Late-Night Happy Hour for Younger Patrons?
41% of surveyed aged 21-34 say they tried special offers that catering establishments offer late in the evening. Late means after 10 pm. This is very important for their decision whether or not to visit some restaurant.
This is the main reason why Late Night Happy Hours has become one of the most popular tools for bar and restaurant promotion.
Unlike traditional “Happy Hours,” these are usually scheduled in the late evening, and are designed to attract more young people – students, young business people and couples.
Happy Hour in the late night hours often increases your overall traffic, especially if the happy hour specials appeal to the younger guests.
Add to this featuring popular DJ’s to create a ‘hot’ atmosphere in your bar and attendance of younger guests will increase even more.
6. Use Check-in Apps
More consumers today are checking in wherever they go including restaurants.
“Check-in” apps are only getting more popular. 18% of US smartphone owners use “check-in” apps, and 33 million people are using Foursquare alone.
Location-based apps are one of the cheapest, easiest ways to get your restaurant’s name in front of a local audience. They connect people to nearby businesses, and offer a chance to interact with your restaurant.
My favorite check-in app for restaurants is Yelp. The app is designed specifically to help restaurants off special discounts and rewards. Offer a small reward to customers who repeatedly check-in. This gives new customers a great incentive to keep coming back.
7. Theme Dinner Parties
A Theme dinner or even lunch party can help you to get new restaurant promotion ideas. Choose theme for your guests such as Italian dinner party. Make a full Italian experience for your guests. Set the table cloths in the colors of the Italian flag green, white and red. Or if you don’t have it buy only napkins in these colors.
For music, choose Italian canzone which will in one moment change the atmosphere in your restaurant, and become very romantic. And of course make a menu with special offer of Italian food and wine which is an indispensable element of Italian specialties. I’m sure that your guest will have a lovely time and come to visit your restaurant again.
8. Sponsor Fundraisers For Charities
There is no better way to do well by doing good. More than ever, there are charitable opportunities available to restaurants to support in every community. There’s no reason why your restaurant can’t support a number of good causes, especially if they benefit the local organizations directly. You can set up special events that support these needy causes and benefit from the positive images they produce. Media outlets are much more eager to put your restaurant front and center when you are doing charity work.
9. Use Video Marketing
Video marketing is taking all business marketing to the next level. It is arguably the hottest media to show off any business….especially your restaurant!
Show your restaurant to potential diners with images and videos ranked high on YouTube… We can take care of that and make sure that your video is viewed!!
Restaurant and bar interiors can be showcased so easily with videos it should be #1 on your list. YouTube alone has over 1 billion unique users each month; Over 6 billion hours of video are watched each month on YouTube—that’s almost an hour for every user. See our results for our Video Marketing Strategies here…
10. Implement Upselling At All Stages
There’s a delicate balance between offering helpful suggestions to your customers and becoming an annoyance using pressure.
Every bar and restaurant strives to ensure its guests have the most enjoyable and comfortable dining experience possible, and therefore, the last thing service staff should do is overly push them to order extra things they may not want. But, on the other hand, many times customers are very receptive to or even appreciative of a server, bartender, etc. who goes the extra mile to suggest additional menu items they may not have thought to order on their own.
Your service staff should take the time to personally know their customers, especially loyal ones. When upselling, customers will only be excited about their server’s suggestions if they are. To help service staff be more convincing upsellers, during your regular staff meetings try slotting out time for mock scenarios, whereby service staff can test and fine-tune their upselling approachess with each other.
Typically customers will let their server know, how they are feeling throughout the dining experience. Asking questions like, “Do you know about our specials this evening?” or “Can I suggest a wonderful wine choice for your entrée?” will let the server know whether or not their guests are receptive to additional menu suggestions.
Finally, A common mistake servers make is that they close out the guest check too early. Doing this not only hinders their ability to upsell but even may be deemed offensive to some guests. Servers should never assume that their guests aren’t interested in dessert or another round of drinks until they have asked.