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How to reach new customers for your restaurant (and make it work)

Posted by Olivia Ryan on Apr 16, 2018 8:04:00 AM

Every restaurant owner wants to fill their business with customers. And why wouldn’t they? The customer base is the sole purpose and biggest factor in the restaurant’s existence, so a steady stream of returning customers and new faces is the only way to keep the business on track.

‘’Your old customers will exhaust the word of mouth referrals, so you obviously want to attract new customers to the restaurant, too. This is good for the income and even better for the business’ future, as long as you show hospitability.’’ – advises Nadia Larson, management expert at aussiewritings.com.

Still, reaching new restaurant customers is not as easy as it sounds. You probably have dozens of responsibilities on your plate right now, and thinking of new ideas that would attract new people would take up time you don’t really have.

Knowing this, here are some ideas that have proven to be effective in attracting new customers.

How to reach new customers for your restaurant-1

1. Identify exactly who your customers are

It will be much easier to find new customers if you know what you are looking for. Without an idea of who your customers are , you won’t know what action to take to attract them.

You can start identifying them by observing the people you already have as regular customers. Ask yourself some of these questions:

  • Roughly how old are the people entering your restaurant?
  • Are they families, couples?
  • What are the most popular menu items?
  • What are the least popular items?
  • What time do they mostly dine at your restaurant?

Once you understand your customers, then you’ll be able to market to them better and attract them into your restaurant. 

If your regular customers are your preferred audience , you can focus your strategies on providing improved products that meet their needs by finding out what they like and dislike. If these are people aren’t your preferred customers, then it might be a good idea to brainstorm and strategize who they might be.

Narrowing down the focus of your customers will help you better cater to them and ensure they consider your restaurant as somewhere they’d return to. If you really want to drill down into this, it’s best to conduct some market research, this will provide some detailed information on your exact customer profile.

2. Constantly improve your customer service

The experience a customer will have in your restaurant should be your top priority. Even if you manage to create a strategy that will attract new customers, they are unlikely to recommend your restaurant if your staff demonstrates poor customer service. In fact, this can result in a poor for your business.

One of the best ways to improve your service is to train your staff on how to provide a great customer experience, and ensure they understand its impact on your business.

By providing quality service, you are ensuring that your customers will leave the restaurant satisfied, and with a desire to share their experience with others.

Don’t forget to look at your overall business for ways to improve your service. This could include areas such as your menu offering, your product, venue design and branding. All of these will help in improving your customer service.

3. Explore different marketing strategies

The best shot you have at reaching new customers is to encourage them to take action. You can do this by targeting your potential customers and giving them something they will find of value. Different marketing strategies allow the marketer to create interesting and compelling messages that invite the target audience to visit their restaurant.

Take for example, Domino Pizza’s technique back in the 1980’s. Domino’s offered a hot pizza delivery within 30 minutes. In the case that the customer did not get the order within this time frame, the pizza was free of charge!

It’s also important to ensure that your marketing strategies are targeted and focused. This way you are more likely to reach the customer that you want visiting your restaurant.

If you use generic, non-focused marketing messages, you are risking that people will just find your restaurant -  blindly distributing ads of your restaurant or a menu does not cut it anymore.

Targeted messages share a promotion or unique advantage of your restaurant. You may include a coupon, a discount, specials or promise a free dessert.

By introducing targeted and unique offers like this, you’re casting a wider net to customers who aren’t already a customer - which is the ideal strategy. You may find that a combination of traditional and online marketing techniques can be a good way to reach new customers, depending where your customers are.

However, remember to do your research before trying these out, it often involves trial and error to best understand what kind of marketing works for your restaurant.

4. Create partnerships with other businesses

Make sure to team up with local and commercial businesses, then nurture these relationships with the goal of creating a bigger client base. Spread your partnership around. Meet suppliers, small and large businesses’ owners, restaurant décor and design specialists, or business people who can bring customers into your restaurant (tour guides, party planners), etc.

Partnership strategies go both ways. You can connect to those who can help you by providing you with something, and those who can order from you and expand your client base.

5. Take advantage of big events

Holidays like New Year’s Eve, Valentine’s day and Christmas  are all excellent opportunities to take advantage of. People are constantly looking for a new place to try during these celebrations, which makes this an excellent opportunity to promote your business and bring in the customers.

Perhaps you could celebrate by launching a new item on your menu, host a theme night  or introduce group booking packages If you do not focus on good advertising and promotion during these events, your business is missing out on potential customers. People are most active in these periods, so embrace events!

6. Consider using social media 

Social media is highly important in today’s business world, particularly the restaurant business. Consider this - 75% of consumers have used Facebook to decide on what restaurant to eat at and Instagram is the number one social media app for engagement with restaurant brands.

So it’s worth reaching today’s customers by promoting your business on social media channels. Social media can help you boost your online presence and get your brand acknowledge much wider than you could anticipate.

Creating events, promoting your site, and posting content on social media platforms will get you all the attention you need to fill your restaurant for months to come. Remember to also keep your messages here targeted and in line with your audience (see point 3). 

Have you tried any of these tricks to boost the number of new customers in your restaurant? If you haven’t – get started right away. The right approach will get you more customers than you ever hoped for!

Typsy online hospitality training and learning platform at typsy.com

Learn more about customer service with Typsy's course, start now!

Olivia Ryan_blog Olivia Ryan is a passionate blogger and journalist who worked as a waitress while studying at university. She likes to keep up to date with hospitality trends, and also writes on digital marketing, career growth, and self-development on www.aussiewritings.com Connect with her on Facebook and Twitter.


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Topics: Hospitality marketing, Hospitality managers, Restaurants