Why Restaurant Marketing is So Important for Your Business

Many restaurateurs spend most of their time running the daily operations: inventory control and ordering, making sure that the place is clean, that the employees turns are in order, that the broken dishwasher gets fixed, etc.

There are a million tasks that form part of the daily routine of running a restaurant business. All are important and all of them need to be taken care of.

However, there is usually one task that most of the restaurateurs are happy to delegate: their restaurant marketing.

Most restaurateurs are not very business savvy people. They open their restaurants because they love to cook and to mingle with their customers. They naïvely think that offering good food at reasonable prices is enough to attract customers to fill their tables…

The reality check is often brutal and leaves restaurant owners scratching their heads in disbelief, wondering why their place is mostly empty while other nearby restaurants seem to be always full.

The problem is that the world is full of good restaurants. Competition in the restaurant business is brutal and, if you own a restaurant you should know that is not enough to offer good food. You also must compete with many other restaurants that are often wiser than you investing their marketing dollars.

So, if marketing is so important, why is that restaurateurs are more than happy to give their marketing budget away to sales reps?

You know whom I mean. These are the sales people who flock to restaurants always offering a good deal, although “You must act now because the next issue is going to print and you are going to miss it!”

You know what? Miss it! It is probably a waste of money anyway.

I’ve just started coaching a restaurant. When I sat with the owner and we did an inventory of all his marketing expenses, his eyes almost popped out of the sockets.

He is spending more than $3,000 USD a month in mostly useless marketing. And the best part is that, until now, he never did an analysis of the return of investment that his marketing expenses are bringing him.

You don’t need to be a marketing genius to expend your marketing budget wisely, just follow one simple rule. Just one. If you follow this rule and do nothing else, I guarantee you that your marketing will improve dramatically.

Ok are you ready?

The rule is: Never invest in any marketing that you can’t track and measure the results.

That’s it: Very simple, very straightforward and very logical.

If a sales rep comes to your place and ask you to place an ad in his newspaper, or directory or whatever he is selling you, just ask them: How can you guarantee me that if I spend $1,000 with you, you will give me at least $1,500 in business?

If all they offer you is their word that their ads work, just ask him to guarantee it in writing. If their marketing is really effective, they shouldn’t be afraid to back it up with a solid guarantee. However, I can assure you, they won’t do it. And you know why? Because they can’t.

Most of the traditional restaurant marketing only benefits the advertising companies that produce it.

If they can guarantee you the results, go for it, you have nothing to lose and much to win. If not, think about other ways where you can track and measure your results.

It sounds simple but it requires that you have a marketing plan and stick to it.

Good luck!

Jose L Riesco
© Riesco Consulting Inc.
www.twitter.com/jlriesco
http://www.myrestaurantmarketing.com

Why Restaurant Marketing is So Important for Your Business

Many restaurateurs spend most of their time running the daily operations: inventory control and ordering, making sure that the place is clean, that the employees turns are in order, that the broken dishwasher gets fixed, etc.

There are a million tasks that form part of the daily routine of running a restaurant business. All are important and all of them need to be taken care of.

However, there is usually one task that most of the restaurateurs are happy to delegate: their restaurant marketing.

Most restaurateurs are not very business savvy people. They open their restaurants because they love to cook and to mingle with their customers. They naïvely think that offering good food at reasonable prices is enough to attract customers to fill their tables…

The reality check is often brutal and leaves restaurant owners scratching their heads in disbelief, wondering why their place is mostly empty while other nearby restaurants seem to be always full.

The problem is that the world is full of good restaurants. Competition in the restaurant business is brutal and, if you own a restaurant you should know that is not enough to offer good food. You also must compete with many other restaurants that are often wiser than you investing their marketing dollars.

So, if marketing is so important, why is that restaurateurs are more than happy to give their marketing budget away to sales reps?

You know whom I mean. These are the sales people who flock to restaurants always offering a good deal, although “You must act now because the next issue is going to print and you are going to miss it!”

You know what? Miss it! It is probably a waste of money anyway.

I’ve just started coaching a restaurant. When I sat with the owner and we did an inventory of all his marketing expenses, his eyes almost popped out of the sockets.

He is spending more than $3,000 USD a month in mostly useless marketing. And the best part is that, until now, he never did an analysis of the return of investment that his marketing expenses are bringing him.

You don’t need to be a marketing genius to expend your marketing budget wisely, just follow one simple rule. Just one. If you follow this rule and do nothing else, I guarantee you that your marketing will improve dramatically.

Ok are you ready?

The rule is: Never invest in any marketing that you can’t track and measure the results.

That’s it: Very simple, very straightforward and very logical.

If a sales rep comes to your place and ask you to place an ad in his newspaper, or directory or whatever he is selling you, just ask them: How can you guarantee me that if I spend $1,000 with you, you will give me at least $1,500 in business?

If all they offer you is their word that their ads work, just ask him to guarantee it in writing. If their marketing is really effective, they shouldn’t be afraid to back it up with a solid guarantee. However, I can assure you, they won’t do it. And you know why? Because they can’t.

Most of the traditional restaurant marketing only benefits the advertising companies that produce it.

If they can guarantee you the results, go for it, you have nothing to lose and much to win. If not, think about other ways where you can track and measure your results.

It sounds simple but it requires that you have a marketing plan and stick to it.

Good luck!

Jose L Riesco
Free 40 Pages Restaurant Marketing Strategies Book Summary:
http://www.myrestaurantmarketing.com

Interactive Restaurant Marketing

I’ve just finished watching a 15 minutes video presented by Noah N. Glass, Founder and CEO of GoMobo about Interactive Restaurant Marketing.

The key takeaway is that 2/3 of the top restaurant marketers in attendance are spending less than 10% of their advertising budget online in a time when customers consume 41% of their media online.

Closing this gap is the key to thriving in a challenging economic climate by increasing marketing targeting and tracking. You wan to advertise and market where your clients are.

This marketing won’t work as effectively for everybody:

It works specially well for restaurants that sell food to go or to pickup.

So what about if you have a sit-down restaurant? You can still benefit from many of the online marketing techniques such as sending electronic gift certificates to celebrate your best client’s birthdays (or anniversaries) or announce special promotions or events.

Your website should be the forefront of your marketing efforts. You need to capture your customers information (email, phone number) and then act upon it to reach your customers and invite them to take action:

If you have delivery service or food to-go, you can just add an online ordering form to your site so that you make easy for your clients to order food directly from your restaurant.
If you don’t have delivery or food to-go you still can use your site to email your best clients gift certificates or award programs as well as targeted deals, restaurant news, etc. (Of course you can do this as well for the food to go or delivery service).

In any case, a totally worthwhile 15 minutes of your time. You can watch the video here: Watch GoMobo’s 15-Minute Video on Interactive Restaurant Marketing

Enjoy the Holidays!

Jose L Riesco
© Riesco Consulting Inc.
www.twitter.com/jlriesco
http://www.myrestaurantmarketing.com

Interactive Restaurant Marketing

I’ve just finished watching a 15 minutes video presented by Noah N. Glass, Founder and CEO of GoMobo about Interactive Restaurant Marketing.

The key takeaway is that 2/3 of the top restaurant marketers in attendance are spending less than 10% of their advertising budget online in a time when customers consume 41% of their media online.

Closing this gap is the key to thriving in a challenging economic climate by increasing marketing targeting and tracking. You wan to advertise and market where your clients are.

This marketing won’t work as effectively for everybody:

It works specially well for restaurants that sell food to go or to pickup.

So what about if you have a sit-down restaurant? You can still benefit from many of the online marketing techniques such as sending electronic gift certificates to celebrate your best client’s birthdays (or anniversaries) or announce special promotions or events.

Your website should be the forefront of your marketing efforts. You need to capture your customers information (email, phone number) and then act upon it to reach your customers and invite them to take action:

If you have delivery service or food to-go, you can just add an online ordering form to your site so that you make easy for your clients to order food directly from your restaurant.
If you don’t have delivery or food to-go you still can use your site to email your best clients gift certificates or award programs as well as targeted deals, restaurant news, etc. (Of course you can do this as well for the food to go or delivery service).

In any case, a totally worthwhile 15 minutes of your time. You can watch the video here: Watch GoMobo’s 15-Minute Video on Interactive Restaurant Marketing

Enjoy the Holidays!

Jose L Riesco
Get the FREE 36 pages Restaurant Marketing Strategies Book Summary
http://www.myrestaurantmarketing.com

How Restaurants Should Respond to Customers Asking for Money for Charities

One question that often remains unanswered is what to do with all these people coming to your restaurant and asking for donations (gift certificates).

It seems like lots of people all the sudden think that it is a great idea to go to their favorite restaurant and ask the owners for gift certificates to donate to their children’s schools, their churches or their preferred charities.

Of course, they don’t realize that hundreds of customers and organizations have the same idea and ask for the same gifts. And perhaps they think that this sinking economy is not impacting your business.

And what can you do, poor restaurateur, but suffer the unpleasant experience of having to say NO to these, often pleasant and good people?

Don’t despair. I have a couple of ideas for you to use next time that you get the happy solicitor asking you for a donation:

  1. If the solicitors are organizations with many people: school, hospital, church, charity, etc. Offer to give them many small gift certificates that don’t cover your average price per customer. For example, if your average ticket is $25 per person, offer gift certificates for a value of $10. Also make sure that you clearly print on them that they can’t be combined. You want to take advantage of this opportunity to give away coupons masked as gift certificates for a value less than your average check so that the customers coming will spend more money in your place.
  2. If the solicitors are individual customers. Offer to sell them the gift certificates at a discount. You can apply the same principle than before. You can sell them several $10 gift certificates for a value of $5 each. They can buy as many as they want but they have to give them or raffle them to many people (and not bundling them together) so that many people get to come and try your place. Tell them that you are contributing your share by giving them the discounts, but they also have to contribute theirs by paying for the difference. After all it’s their idea and it should be their donation, not yours.

If you apply both techniques you will:

  • Be happier because you won’t have to say NO to a good cause
  • Leverage your marketing by distributing gift certificates that will bring additional customers (who could be potential clients) to your place at a minimum cost

It is a win-win proposition.

Happy Sailing,
Jose L Riesco
Get a FREE 36 pages Restaurant Marketing Strategies Book Summary here: www.myrestaurantmarketing.com

How Restaurants Should Respond to Customers Asking for Money for Charities

One question that often remains unanswered is what to do with all these people coming to your restaurant and asking for donations (gift certificates).

It seems like lots of people all the sudden think that it is a great idea to go to their favorite restaurant and ask the owners for gift certificates to donate to their children’s schools, their churches or their preferred charities.

Of course, they don’t realize that hundreds of customers and organizations have the same idea and ask for the same gifts. And perhaps they think that this sinking economy is not impacting your business.

And what can you do, poor restaurateur, but suffer the unpleasant experience of having to say NO to these, often pleasant and good people?

Don’t despair. I have a couple of ideas for you to use next time that you get the happy solicitor asking you for a donation:

  • If the solicitors are organizations with many people: school, hospital, church, charity, etc. Offer to give them many small gift certificates that don’t cover your average price per customer. For example, if your average ticket is $25 per person, offer gift certificates for a value of $10. Also make sure that you clearly print on them that they can’t be combined. You want to take advantage of this opportunity to give away coupons masked as gift certificates for a value less than your average check so that the customers coming will spend more money in your place.
  • If the solicitors are individual customers. Offer to sell them the gift certificates at a discount. You can apply the same principle than before. You can sell them several $10 gift certificates for a value of $5 each. They can buy as many as they want but they have to give them or raffle them to many people (and not bundling them together) so that many people get to come and try your place. Tell them that you are contributing your share by giving them the discounts, but they also have to contribute theirs by paying for the difference. After all it’s their idea and it should be their donation, not yours.

If you apply both techniques you will:

  • Be happier because you won’t have to say NO to a good cause
  • Leverage your marketing by distributing gift certificates that will bring additional customers (who could be potential clients) to your place at a minimum cost


It is a win-win proposition.

Happy Sailing,

Jose L Riesco
© Riesco Consulting Inc.
www.twitter.com/jlriesco
http://www.myrestaurantmarketing.com

How Restaurants Should Respond to Customers Asking for Money for Charities

One question that often remains unanswered is what to do with all these people coming to your restaurant and asking for donations (gift certificates).

It seems like lots of people all the sudden think that it is a great idea to go to their favorite restaurant and ask the owners for gift certificates to donate to their children’s schools, their churches or their preferred charities.

Of course, they don’t realize that hundreds of customers and organizations have the same idea and ask for the same gifts. And perhaps they think that this sinking economy is not impacting your business.

And what can you do, poor restaurateur, but suffer the unpleasant experience of having to say NO to these, often pleasant and good people?

Don’t despair. I have a couple of ideas for you to use next time that you get the happy solicitor asking you for a donation:

  1. If the solicitors are organizations with many people: school, hospital, church, charity, etc. Offer to give them many small gift certificates that don’t cover your average price per customer. For example, if your average ticket is $25 per person, offer gift certificates for a value of $10. Also make sure that you clearly print on them that they can’t be combined. You want to take advantage of this opportunity to give away coupons masked as gift certificates for a value less than your average check so that the customers coming will spend more money in your place.
  2. If the solicitors are individual customers. Offer to sell them the gift certificates at a discount. You can apply the same principle than before. You can sell them several $10 gift certificates for a value of $5 each. They can buy as many as they want but they have to give them or raffle them to many people (and not bundling them together) so that many people get to come and try your place. Tell them that you are contributing your share by giving them the discounts, but they also have to contribute theirs by paying for the difference. After all it’s their idea and it should be their donation, not yours.

If you apply both techniques you will:

  • Be happier because you won’t have to say NO to a good cause
  • Leverage your marketing by distributing gift certificates that will bring additional customers (who could be potential clients) to your place at a minimum cost

It is a win-win proposition.

Happy Sailing,
Jose L Riesco
Get a FREE 36 pages Restaurant Marketing Strategies Book Summary here: www.myrestaurantmarketing.com

Bracing for a recession

These are tough times for everybody but perhaps restaurateurs are feeling the impact more than most other business since people are cutting down the eating out budget.

I read somewhere that the restaurants suffering the most are the middle priced ones. People who used to pay $20 to $30 for a meal are going now to fast food places to eat cheaper. Fancy restaurant clientele are not being affected that much by the crisis so they can still afford to go out to their favorite upscale restaurant and pay the fare.

So what can you do, if you have a small mid-priced restaurant to survive these down times?

Here are some suggestions for you:

  1. Look at your marketing budget and cut any expenses that you can’t measure. This doesn’t mean to cut down in marketing. Cutting down in marketing in slow times is a terrible idea, although for many restaurateurs is the first thing to do to save money. What you have to do is to make sure that your marketing dollars are working hard. If you don’t know if a marketing campaign is working for you, then assume that it is not. For example, don’t spend money advertising in newspapers, magazines, radio or Yellow Pages if you can’t count how many customers these ads bring to your place. You need to make sure that you are making more revenue from the ads than you are spending in the advertising. This looks like an obvious thing but I can guarantee you that many restaurateurs never question or analyze their advertising expenses.
  2. Reduce your portions if you give lots of food in your dishes. Not only you’ll be doing a favor to your customers (they really don’t need to overeat these huge portions) but you will save in food costs. Reduce quantity and improve quality. Everybody will benefit.
  3. Look at your menu and see if you have dishes that give you very small profits (either because of the high cost of their ingredients or because they are very labor intensive and difficult to prepare). If so, replace them by dishes easier to make or that require less or more inexpensive ingredients. Again, you will save in food costs increasing this way your profit per sale.
  4. Keep an eye on your labor expenses. If you see that some days of the week are slower, reduce your employees these days. If you reduce your labor expenses, you will cope better with slow times since you won’t spend in food if they don’t eat.
  5. Spend extra time and energy pleasing your clients. They are your most important asset, more than your food or your chef or anybody else. If you don’t have clients, nothing else matters. Period. Make them very welcome to your place, bend backwards to please them and try to always exceed their expectations. This is the best way to assure that they will come back.
  6. If you haven’t done so, start a formalized referral system to bring back your best clients. Please read my previous blog to get more information about this point.
  7. Replace costly snail mail by communications via your website and email. This cost you nothing and will allow you to keep in touch with your clients more often.

These are just some ideas for you to implement. In these time of crisis, ingenuity and excellence go a long way to make sure that you’ll be there when the economy recovers and hungry customers are looking for the best places to eat. Your restaurant should be always on top of their minds and their harts.

Good luck!

Jose L Riesco
© Riesco Consulting Inc
Restaurant Marketing Strategies

Using Online Social Networking to Attract New Customers to Your Restaurant

Brenda Segna writes in her blog http://segnamarketing.blogspot.com/2008/11/myspace-for-seo-and-web-marketing.html about using MySpace to attract young customers to a Pizza place.

Some restaurant owners (check out these ones: http://www.myspace.com/tarantinopizza and http://www.myspace.com/mamacitascafe as an example) created a MySpace site to promote their businesses.

MySpace is a social networking website offering an interactive, user-submitted network of friends, personal profiles, blogs, groups, photos, music and videos for teenagers and adults. It is a very music oriented social networking site so teens and young adults constitute the majority of its 120 million members (yes, you read this right One Hundred Million Members!).

As you can imagine, if you have a restaurant targeted to the younger crowd (pizzerias a prototypical example), your message can find them easier if you advertise in the places where they “hang out”. In this case is a virtual hang-out but as valid as the physical world one for marketing purposes.

Creating a MySpace page is free and relatively easy (although the two examples that I gave you have been designed by professionals) so you may want to consider it. There is also the ability to add background music, blogs, etc.

Check out www.myspace.com and give it a try. You never know if it will bring you lots of new customers.

Happy Networking,

Jose L Riesco
© Riesco Consulting Inc.
Restaurant Marketing Strategies

Bracing for a recession

These are tough times for everybody but perhaps restaurateurs are feeling the impact more than most other business since people are cutting down the eating out budget.

I read somewhere that the restaurants suffering the most are the middle priced ones. People who used to pay $20 to $30 for a meal are going now to fast food places to eat cheaper. Fancy restaurant clientele are not being affected that much by the crisis so they can still afford to go out to their favorite upscale restaurant and pay the fare.

So what can you do, if you have a small mid-priced restaurant to survive these down times?

Here are some suggestions for you:

  • Look at your marketing budget and cut any expenses that you can’t measure. This doesn’t mean to cut down in marketing. Cutting down in marketing in slow times is a terrible idea, although for many restaurateurs is the first thing to do to save money. What you have to do is to make sure that your marketing dollars are working hard. If you don’t know if a marketing campaign is working for you, then assume that it is not. For example, don’t spend money advertising in newspapers, magazines, radio or Yellow Pages if you can’t count how many customers these ads bring to your place. You need to make sure that you are making more revenue from the ads than you are spending in the advertising. This looks like an obvious thing but I can guarantee you that many restaurateurs never question or analyze their advertising expenses.
  • Reduce your portions if you give lots of food in your dishes. Not only you’ll be doing a favor to your customers (they really don’t need to overeat these huge portions) but you will save in food costs. Reduce quantity and improve quality. Everybody will benefit.
  • Look at your menu and see if you have dishes that give you very small profits (either because of the high cost of their ingredients or because they are very labor intensive and difficult to prepare). If so, replace them by dishes easier to make or that require less or more inexpensive ingredients. Again, you will save in food costs increasing this way your profit per sale.
  • Keep an eye on your labor expenses. If you see that some days of the week are slower, reduce your employees these days. If you reduce your labor expenses, you will cope better with slow times since you won’t spend in food if they don’t eat.
  • Spend extra time and energy pleasing your clients. They are your most important asset, more than your food or your chef or anybody else. If you don’t have clients, nothing else matters. Period. Make them very welcome to your place, bend backwards to please them and try to always exceed their expectations. This is the best way to assure that they will come back.
  • If you haven’t done so, start a formalized referral system to bring back your best clients. Please read my previous blog to get more information about this point.
  • Replace costly snail mail by communications via your website and email. This cost you nothing and will allow you to keep in touch with your clients more often.

These are just some ideas for you to implement. In these time of crisis, ingenuity and excellence go a long way to make sure that you’ll be there when the economy recovers and hungry customers are looking for the best places to eat. Your restaurant should be always on top of their minds and their harts.

Good luck!

Jose L Riesco
© Riesco Consulting Inc.
www.twitter.com/jlriesco
http://www.myrestaurantmarketing.com