The thought of an empty house will keep any restaurateur up at night. What if nobody comes?
If you’ve made it through the sleepless nights then, chances are, you’re doing something right. Congrats! Now, what can you do to keep all those happy folks coming back for more?
The problem with being busy is, now that the covers are flying in, there really isn’t much time left to do…anything. Not to worry. Here’s how to be a restaurant marketing whiz while you – and the competition – sleep:
Disclaimer: we read a bunch of similar articles to this to make sure we weren’t duplicating some already-helpful tips. If you have read any of this before then firstly, damn; secondly, email to tell us.
Make your restaurant design 24/7
You’re not Foxtons; no need to leave the lights on all night. And no, you don’t have to spend money you don’t have on a restaurant marketing agency (Ahem, ya know, hi…). What you can do, however, is advertise your venue to every person walking by when the venue is closed.
Most of the passers-by won’t know who you are – that’s fine, it’s unlikely a static bit of collateral was going to make them pop back for breakfast anyway – but those that do will know you and probably live locally. You know how you can’t help but show a friend where you used to live? Yeah, that’s it. So, personalise the message for people that already know what you’re about.
Promote guest participation before you open
When was the last time you turned down a free coffee? People are active on social from the moment they wake up, which you knew. People also do not want to have to take a picture of themselves drinking your coffee whilst pretending to smile in order to get 50% off, which you kinda also knew.
Don’t force your loyal guests to do something they don’t want to do, but do give them the tools to advocate for your product. Your regular morning guests are likely to work nearby and a portion of their network will do the same.
And, before you ask, what if they all want free coffee? Best. PR. Ever.
Send a personal email to a guest after each service
We are assuming you’re having a lie in while they’re reading this one (and that you take bookings via email or booking engine).
While all of your competitors will be automating their messaging, you can truly personalise yours. You could thank someone that had a fabulous time and engaged with the team all night, or try to gain anonymous feedback from a diner that came and went without fanfare: it’s up to you.
The important thing is that you are doing something different; creating a personal connection and starting a relationship with a guest that will give them more reasons to return than any contact form ever will.
If you manage to do this even three times a week, then after a year you will have reminded 150 guests quite how much you care about their experience.
Start a loyalty programme, for former employees
How do you catalyse this? By giving your stars of the recent past a loyalty card to your business, offering free drinks and dinner in your restaurant. Worst case scenario? You keep in touch with the people that helped you build the business and take advantage of their insider knowledge and new contacts.
Best case? Generate more attention, serve more guests, make more money…and sleep better.
This article was written by James Sandrini, Co-founder of 48.1 – A Creative Agency for Food and Drink Brands, and was originally published on 48.1.
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