In an economy where many people are trying to reduce spending, going out to eat is probably one of the first expenses to cut. Many restaurants are feeling the slowdown and seeing their revenues plummet these days.
So what can restaurateurs do to bring customers back?
First, let me tell you what you shouldn’t do: You shouldn’t reduce your marketing efforts to save money. Notice that I’ve said marking efforts, not marketing expenses.
Most restaurateurs are spending a lot in marketing without getting a good return of their investments. They are basically wasting their money.
So first thing that you need to do is sit down and look at all your marketing expenses. Make a list and eliminate the ones that you can’t measure and test. If the results are not tangible, you shouldn’t spend your money on them.
Next, categorize the rest starting with the ones that work the best and make sure that you keep on investing in these ones. Cutting down effective marketing campaigns is a big mistake in times of crisis, when customers need to hear from you more than ever.
Finally, try to come up with creative new marketing ideas that can bring you results and don’t need big investments.
Think for example how can you motivate your current customers so that they come back to your place. What incentives can you give them to bring them over again and again? Most people think coupons but there are many other mechanisms to keep people coming to your place. Here you have a few ideas:
- Create a wine club and offer discounts in selected wines to your best clients.
- Offer to reserve their favorite table if they book the place right after they finish their meals and before they leave your restaurant. Many people really love to have dinner in a specific table.
- Make easy for them to make reservations via your website, OpenTable, Twitter, etc.
- Offer them a special dish and tell them that it is not available to the regular customers, only to select clients (just like them). You can have a special dish made just for your best clients. People love to feel special.
- If they don’t drink a whole bottle of wine, offer to give them a good wine by the glass that you normally don’t serve. You can use the same bottle for your frequent clients. Pick a good quality wine and don’t overcharge them for it. You can even charge them to just make a little profit. The idea is to attract them back so that they have a motivation to come to your place.
These are just a few ideas. As you can see, they don’t cost much to implement and can motivate your best clients to come back to your place.
Do you have more ideas? Share them in the comments field.
Jose L Riesco