Thrive without Offers: 6 Ultimate Ways to Promote Your Restaurant

Before you launch another marketing campaign for restaurant-specific offers, riddle me this – what happens when offers begin to cost you more than they are worth? Promote your restaurant, bring in new customers, make the old ones happier and do it without losing a fortune.

As competition has risen significantly, restaurants often turn to discounts to attract customers, but it’s definitely not a sustainable strategy for growth. You may have an inaugural discount or offers during festive periods but running offers around the year can be detrimental to your business. Discounts being a prerequisite to acquire and retain customers is a myth many bigwigs in the restaurant industry still believe in. Let’s see what can be done to promote your restaurant without offering discounts:

Offer an Additional Quirk

Between 2014 and 2015 in the US, people bought 110 million more combo meals than the previous year. 62% of Indian football enthusiasts, as per an Ipos poll, were watching the FIFA World Cup 2018 at restaurants or bars. A study by North, Shilcock, and Hargreaves presents that customers spend more in a restaurant playing classical music than in ones that play pop or no music.

What does that tell you about marketing for restaurants?

Host Events

What’s a real crowd puller apart from discounts? Attract your diners with gig nights, stand up comedy performances, food tastings, DJ nights besides other events. If you call prominent artists or offer something out of the ordinary, you wouldn’t have to resort to discounts in order to get more business.

Seasonal Specials

In order to keep things interesting, you must add seasonal specials to your menu. For instance, in summers, restaurants curate special menus with mango being the essential ingredient. Similarly, you can have a special festive menu, a seasonal menu or introduce new dishes overtime.

Make Your Food & Space Instagrammable

There’s a great probability that an influencer or blogger may decide to pick your restaurant for their next meal just to jazz up their Instagram feed.

In order to achieve marketing through Instagram, you must be highly active through your own restaurants account and you must give your customers a reason to feature your restaurant on their feed. You can have an unusually plated dish, dry ice to make your drinks look mystical or delicious fusion dishes to catch people’s attention.

Keep Your Customers Happy

88% of diners are less likely to return to your restaurant if you leave the complaints on your social media pages unhandled. 95% of adults between 18 and 34 years are very likely to follow a brand via social media. And, by 2020, price and product will be replaced by customer experience as the key brand differentiators.  

The point – when guests leave a review, work to make sure it’s a good one and invest in an unbiased feedback system. You must ensure that every complaint is taken care of and nobody leaves your restaurant unhappy.

Stop Offering Discount as an Incentive, Right Away

It’s more of a concluding argument; nevertheless, you must stop looking at the faces of price-slashing offers to get to new or old customers. Gradually, they’ll read into the pattern and wait for you to lower the prices before they put in the order.

Bad for business!

Instead, when you begin to invest in constructive ways of acquiring and retaining customers and offering them a content dining experience, you’ll condition them to believe in your service.

Your Guide to Effectively Managing Walk-Ins, Queues & Reservations!

There’s nothing more off-putting for a diner than to wait outside a restaurant in a never-ending queue. As a matter of fact, 89% of all customers will leave your restaurant and never return, if you have long wait-lists and queues. 65% of these will immediately go over to a rival and might never give your restaurant a shot.

So, if you do not have an effective strategy to manage your queues, you’re hurting your business. Worry not, though; For here’s how you can handle your restaurant’s wait-lists and queues like an absolute boss. 😎

  • Keep Them Updated About the Waiting Period

Your customers know that they have to wait if your restaurant is busy. The thing that they do not know is how long they’ll have to wait. Believe us, this ‘not-knowing’ is an agony!   

Studies have shown that this uncertainty will lead to a negative experience, even if the food you served was delicious. You need to be honest about the amount of time your customer will have to wait before being served.

15 minutes don’t really seem that bad when the customer knows that it’s only 15 minutes. What if you could keep diners updated about the waitlist with a real time countdown? With inResto, diners get periodic notifications regarding the wait time and queue status.

  • Keep ‘em close and caffeinated

It is your job to create an awesome environment where even a 45-minute wait goes by in a jiffy. No business should ever leave their customer high and dry. You have to keep them entertained! Barbeque Nation, for example, has a very active staff that keeps everyone entertained, even while they are waiting.

86% of all customers will spend a lot more if they have a positive experience. For example, an extremely popular café in Fort Collins doubled the size of its patio, added seating, free-rolls, blankets and coffee to create a very comfortable space for waiting guests.

You could do something like that or think up unique ways to keep your guests entertained while they wait. The most common strategy many restaurants use is digital signage, or HD TV’s that don’t let the customer get bored.

You could even let your waiting customers order drinks! 😊

  • Is seating incomplete parties an option?

Quite a lot of times, groups aren’t complete before they reach and get seated. Allowing these groups to park before their full party shows up means that everyone else will have to wait longer!

Use this time to have someone else seated and eating. This is one strategy that can be extremely useful for small restaurants and cafés.

  • Reservation & Walk-In Management Applications

One effective way to manage wait-lists and let customers have a greater control over the process is by using reservation or walk-in management applications, such as the InResto Guest or inResto Reserve!

inResto Guest is an app that enables diners to add themselves to the waitlist. On the other hand, inResto Reserve is an app that lets your host at the reception add customers to the waitlist along with collecting their information.

Why inResto is the only tool you’ll ever need:

  1. With inResto Reserve, diners receive a link in a personalized message that allows them to remove themselves from the waitlist. Follow up calls will soon be a thing of the past!
  2. This personalized link is quite useful to engage with customers as well. It incorporates the restaurants’ menu digitally, their social media handles, showcases their specials and also helps diners track their current status of booking.

You have to remember that long queues are a scary prospect and people dislike waiting for more than 9 minutes at a stretch. A customer that is unhappy will most probably never return to eat at your restaurant again.

That means that you have to manage your wait-lists and queues effectively, for they are the single most effective way towards building loyalty, and a successful business.

6 Effective Ways to Up Your Email Marketing Game!

As a restaurant owner, you dedicate time, money, and efforts to create a service with good food, ambiance, and friendly staff at a reasonable price factor. Why? Because you want the customers to keep coming back.

Retargeting the guests, hoping to turn them into regulars for your restaurant without coming off as a nuisance is both, significant for business and achieved efficiently via emails.

Email is permission-centric. Every person on your email list is aware that you may send them messages. It generates the highest ROI for marketers, as per VentureBeat. It’s 40% better than Twitter or Facebook at acquiring new customers, says a McKinsey report.

It’s worth a try for the high-end as well as average restaurants, for email marketing services have low administrative costs. Let’s look at the strategies which work!

  1. Create Your Restaurant Email Marketing List On Your Own

Don’t buy generic email databases. Build one organically.

Request the patrons for their email address in the comment cards they fill after dining. Let them sign up online to reserve tables. Place a signup form on your social media pages, blogs, mobile application, or website. Offer incentives, like 20% off their next meal, to give up their email addresses.

Just remember to tell your customers how they can opt-out of the service.

  1. Make the Subject Line ClickBait

The subject of marketing emails should have two purposes-

  • To specifically state the main point of the message
  • To establish a personal note with the reader

Keep it short and original. Stick to the point. Subject lines restricted to 50 or fewer characters result in 12% higher opening rates than the longer ones. Use the official restaurant email address which the customer can quickly identify.

  1. Personalise the Message

If you want a high performing email, who it’s intended for and how it’s designed become prime factors.

Instead of ‘Dear customer’ or ‘Hello Sir/Ma’am,’ use their names. Stick to one message per email. If it’s a restaurant promotion email with offers like a free dessert, 2-for-1 drinks, or special holiday dinner at slashed prices, keep it concise. Give them an immediate expiration date to maintain the offer’s value.

If you’re sending out newsletters (or a one-two minute read), write stories about your signature dishes, share a recipe for the foodie-customers, promote menu additions, give subscriber-only offers like a chance to meet the chef.

Track the birthdays or anniversaries of customers who have previously been to your restaurant. Marketing emails can contain a special offer, like a free meal, buffet or wine tasting invitation, or gift cards, for such guests. It would strengthen their loyalty towards your brand.

  1. Be Careful with Email Frequency and Timing

Don’t flood the customer’s inbox with hourly emails. Target it once or twice a week or month at an optimal day and time.

For example, restaurant marketing emails for a corporate employee could be free dessert on Wednesday evenings, 35% off on weekday lunches, etc. A Monday Morning email could offer free coffee on buying breakfast.

  1. Prune Your Subscriber List

Remove the non-responders after a duration. But, before you do the pruning, ensure that the reason for no action on the customer’s side isn’t you. Religiously avoid poorly proofread emails, distracting backgrounds, broken links, long paragraphs, or deals that aren’t followed up.

Whenever you end someone’s subscription, send them an email clarifying the reason and the steps to rejoin if they wish to do so.

  1. Track the Email Marketing Campaign via Different Metrics

It’s important to track metrics like open rate and click rate. You must be aware of the number of subscribers who open your emails, click on the link/CTA present in the email, forward the email, complain, or unsubscribe.

When you structure marketing emails, always include a Call to Action(CTA.) Keep your CTA obligation free. State what the subscribers can do next in simple steps and encourage them to act right away.

For instance, if the agenda of your mailer is for diners to book a table, order food or buy a deal, it needs to be highlighted properly. The mailer must end with a CTA button stating your agenda clearly.

If you offer coupon codes to a customer for a particular diner, you can use a feedback application to validate them. The more people use the specific code of a restaurant, the better your marketing strategy performs.

The Indian food services will cross almost 5 Lakh Crores in value by 2021. Indian restaurants have a chance to grow and become a dominant contributor in this industry worth 48 billion dollars. And, 89% of Indian marketers consider Email Marketing a crucial tool to drive sales.

Unquestionably, email is a mighty tool. If you are about to utilize it, understand the email marketing tips for restaurants and do it right.

Diners

6 Reasons Why Your Diners Aren’t Coming Back For Round 2!

Sometimes, you might be checking all the boxes by getting new diners through various PR activities and well-executed social media campaigns, but what if you’re not able to retain them? You know a diner wouldn’t return if they get into an argument with your staff or storm out, but what about those customers who don’t tell you what went wrong? Here’s a couple of reasons why your diners aren’t coming back once they’re out the door:

Inconsistency in Food Quality

No matter how picturesque your restaurant’s ambience is or how great the service is, if your food’s quality dips quite often; your restaurant’s reputation is in deep waters. This would mean average reviews by new customers and if the regulars notice a downfall, you might lose them too. Also, if the quality is up to the mark, but your diner had to wait for their order for a considerably longer time without being informed about it, they’re unlikely to return.

Puzzling Menus

You may have an extensive menu, but if something or the other is always missing; people are going to start pointing it out. Also, if you have an exhaustive menu, it could confuse people. So, it’s crucial to highlight your specials. Lately, since healthy food is on the rise, you could also benefit by including low calorie, gluten-free or even dairy-free options.

Erratic Service

Sometimes tardy service, arrogant or inattentive waiters and unattractive food can also put off diners. If the waiters take too long to tend tables or your diner’s inputs aren’t taken into consideration, there’s a high probability that your customers aren’t coming back and are going to leave a bad review.

Inconsistent Pricing

If your prices are on the higher side as compared to your competitors, diners would only prefer your restaurant for an occasional outing. They always look for affordable meals if they want to dine out somewhere regularly. One way to solve this problem would be to keep some menu items at a relatively economical price as compared to the specials or exclusive expensive items. You must thoroughly study the market, and your position in it, before pricing all items.

Dearth of Well-Executed Loyalty Programs

Diners might like your restaurant, but at the end of the day they’ll compare you to your competitors and wouldn’t choose you if there’s no incentive. Run loyalty programs by offering them discounts for consecutive visits or have a point-based feedback system to ensure they keep coming back for more. Even if you have a great loyalty program in place, it’s essential to remind your diners about it from time to time. You can do this by running well-targeted engagement campaigns.

Attention to Hygiene

Sometimes your restaurant is spic and span but a dirty bathroom, a dirty kitchen or even a delay in clearing tables, could really scare people off. Also, if you’re rigid about the cleanliness schedules of your restaurant, you might be missing out on your staff’s hygiene. Your staff must be well trained and should be prim and proper at all times. Let’s not forget, sometimes one tiny detail could also lead to terrible reviews.

Most importantly, even if a diner doesn’t return what harms you more is the bad word of mouth marketing that ensues.Always keep your food quality top notch, pay heed to loyalty programs regularly, monitor the hygiene factor, make sure your pricing strategy is consistent with competitors, keep a neat and concise menu and never let your servers slack off. All this will ensure happy diners and increase your diner retention rates.

Restaurants Need Waiters

Do Restaurants Need Waiters?

Restaurants have always been considered to need a personal touch, where the staff must attend each visitor personally. But times are changing, and automated systems are gradually taking over the ordering system in the F&B industry and helping deliver a more personalized experience. Some might think that’s counter-intuitive, but let’s dive a little deeper to see what’s going on.

  • When Technology Teaches Manners

How often do you see a guest snapping his fingers or whistling while calling a waiter, while yelling “hero”, “boss” or even “oye”? If one of your waiters makes a mistake, many people don’t hesitate to reprimand them publicly, often loudly, while using demeaning language. Online ordering systems can minimize the chances of mistakes or delays when it comes to placing an order while increasing efficiency and reducing costs by reducing the number of staff needed on the floor. Furthermore, you may even gain the resources and time to train the remaining staff more thoroughly so they can handle such situations more appropriately.

 

  • Avoiding confusion with newly appointed waiters

It often happens that new hired staff take time to pick up speed and are unable to serve your customers the way they expect. For instance, remembering your guest’s name, their favourites from the menu and maybe even their preferred table has a profound impact on how your restaurant is perceived and recalled. Now, with in-restaurant technology, like inResto DineIn, you will be able to keep each diner on record and keep a tab on their preferences so that you serve them better next time.

 

  • Online Ordering and its many benefits

So many relishing and difficult-to-pronounce names on the menu, but how many waiters do you have who can can explain them all? It takes a while for the staff to memorize the menu and gain expertise in explaining it to a diner without having to go back to the manager or the chef. Imagine how convenient it would be if customers could get all the details of the dish through a picture and description, all on a tab or even their own phone? Along with this, the menu could be in multiple languages, thereby appealing to tourists and residents who speak other languages more fluently. There can even be pop-ups on the digital menu about food-pairing recommendations, deals and promotions on certain menu items or even specials for the day. No confusion, no waiting for the waiter, no more delayed orders, and no more dirty menu cards.

 

  • Preventing bad reviews on Social Media

A diner’s visit to a restaurant is incomplete without diners putting a check-in status or posting food pictures on social media. But gradually, these have become platforms for people to vent about their bad experiences. With the emergence of food bloggers and food critics, and just discerning diners, a restaurant’s reputation is always at risk. Having a system that alerts you of bad feedback immediately can save your online reputation and maybe even gain a loyal customer. And now, this has already become a reality with feedback apps giving restaurant managers real-time alerts of bad customer experiences.

 

  • Efficient Resource Management

Good staff makes for loyal customers, but what makes a good waiter? It takes a lot of time and money to train your staff to go beyond taking orders and serving, but also to be friendly with the diners and know how to make them happy. Now, you can replace personnel with ordering apps. Now, your 60 to 100 seater restaurant can actually be managed by one cashier and a couple of waiters. So why spend a fortune on training a large team, which is vulnerable to numerous variables, including human error?

Obviously, completely replacing waiters in restaurants is not feasible, but having a smaller team has many benefits. This is where technology can play an important role. Today, customers are much more accepting of technology, and you can take advantage of it by reducing manpower and human error for more efficient and effective operations. Furthermore, with the customer data you have, you can make the experience a lot more personal by offering them their favourite dishes, drinks and tables, and maybe even offer them a bit of a discount.

Let’s face it. The future of dining is here. Let’s make the most of it for the sake of our customers. inResto DineIn is one of the online menu systems that are making a huge splash in the industry. If you want to find out more about it, click here.