Restaurants are a dime a dozen. You’ve got chain restaurants, fast food joints, and dozens of specialty restaurants throughout every city. If you’re a restaurant owner, you know how difficult it is to compete and how important it is to stand out from the crowd when you market your services.
Make the Press Take Notice
Not all press is good press, regardless of what the old adage says. Take your restaurant out into the community, donate time, and help with service projects. People will remember and patronize those they’ve seen out and about.
Design a Stunning Menu
Make sure your physical menu is stunning and visually appealing. Most experts will tell you that the eye is drawn to certain areas on a menu before others. If you aren’t sure about the design of your menu, consult an expert to make sure the layout is optimal for great sales.
Have a Web Presence
I’m talking about a website here, not social media (though that comes later). People often look online before choosing a restaurant, so you’ll want to make sure your menu is easy to find. Your hours and location (and directions) should be easy to find as well. Have a custom dish or a special chef? Highlight anything and everything of importance on your site.
Talk to Food Bloggers
Food bloggers have certainly built a great reputation. They visit restaurants, take pictures, and write about their experiences. They’re not giving out famous stars, but they can certainly influence what people think of your space. Contact some local bloggers and ask if they’ll review your restaurant in exchange for a meal (or two).
Build a Social Media Presence
This does NOT mean creating an account on every single networking site out there. You should probably have a presence on Yelp and on Facebook, at the very least. Anyone can review your business on Yelp, so you may as well take control of the profile and make it look good. Facebook fan pages are very popular and people will use them to look for info and special deals. Remember, it’s better to master a couple of social media sites than it is to neglect a dozen.
Reward Loyal Customers
Make sure your loyal, repeat customers know how much you appreciate them. Offer discounts for repeat visits or for referring friends and family. You can offer discounts to those who join your mailing list or offer a buy 10 get 1 free sort of deal. People love to work towards incentives.
Consider a Take-Out Service
You’ve got a great menu but you only cater to dine-in customers. I guarantee you’re losing out. Build up a take-out service and advertise it so that people know they can call in orders to pick-up if they’re on the run. You’ll increase sales without having to add space to your dining room.
Think outside the box and get creative. Host a special event, welcome a business group, or try to become an eco-friendly example of healthy eating. Make sure your staff looks fresh and explore more styles for ensuring their dress matches your theme as well. No matter what you do, your hard work will eventually pay off.