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People love food and they love food they do not have to cook even more; when they find restaurants they like, they will keep on coming back. In theory, and sometimes reality, restaurants have the opportunity to turn someone into a daily customer. But, as the high rate of restaurant failures tells you, it can be a tough to make your mark. If you could do with some more customers, here are some tips to increase business and hopefully turn your restaurant into their favorite restaurant.
Do you know that just a five percent increase in repeat customers can grow your profits anywhere from 25 to 125 percent? Creating a loyalty program is one of the best ways to strengthen the bond between your restaurant and your customers. People love getting rewards and if they can get rewards by going to a restaurant they already know and love, all the better for your business. Bouncebacks are great for getting first-time customers back in the door—perhaps you can offer a discount off the next meal or a 2 for 1 special. If you serve meals at multiple times of day, consider making some sort of coupon or gift certificate good for a different meal than the one the person is having now. This way you can expose them to more of your menu offerings and really reel them in.
With repeat customers, using general discounts as a means of reward is not the best strategy; if they like your restaurant and come back often, they are willing to pay full price for the food; giving frequent discounts is basically throwing money away. Frequent discounts can make your regular prices seem like less of a value. It is always better to go with offering more, like a free drink, free appetizer or a 2 for 1 special, than taking a dollar amount or percentage off their next bill.
Social media has really brought out the urge in people to share every detail of their life on Facebook and other social media sites. Use this to your advantage to get more customers into your restaurant. Over 30 million people use Foursquare and the popularity of these apps is steadily growing. Give people an incentive to check in at your restaurant and all their Facebook friends will see it; this social media proof is great for business. To gain repeat business, offer a small reward for people who check-in often—this will give them incentive to come back again. When people see their friends eating somewhere, it will make them more likely to try the restaurant. This social proof is a very powerful tool in getting new customers.
Collaborations between local businesses whose services complement one another is a great way to drive business. Perhaps you can pair up with the local movie theater to offer a ‘’dinner and a movie’’ promotion. If there are local hotels nearby, offer a discount to guests who eat at your restaurant.
While not a business, you can also do something along similar lines with a local charity. Have a night where a portion of the proceeds goes towards the organization’s cause. This creates goodwill in the community, and people will be more likely to frequent your business in the long-term. Also, the charity will probably take on a bulk of the marketing efforts, leaving you with very little to do. You can also have charity nights on your own for causes you feel strongly about without having to collaborate with anyone.
Kelli Cooper is a freelance writer who blogs about all things business and marketing; she recommends you visit MenuShoppe for more information on menus for your restaurant.
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