Seven Easy Ways Restaurants Can Get More Business and Survive
I am a restaurant aficionado and have been from a young age. Growing up in Los Angeles I have been to many great restaurants over the years. I have also been lucky enough to travel in the United States and internationally and have eaten in some of the world’s best restaurants. What we are going through now is going to really cull the herd as they say. Over the last several months I have seen restaurants that seem like they will make it and those that probably will not. There are a few things that seem basic that the struggling restaurants seem to be missing.
1. Always Think from your Customer’s point of view. This is a really basic one that many restaurants miss. In these uncertain times customers will want to know basic information like when are you open? Are you open only for takeout or in person (patio in Los Angeles at the moment) dining? Not regularly updating that information on ALL your social media including Yelp is going to frustrate folks. This may be one you think you can save money on by not having someone update but you will lose customers that you can’t afford to lose now.
2. Make it Easy to Reach you. This is not the time to have the phone go unanswered. Again, make it easy for the customer. Folks have questions on all sorts of things. They may want to check your hours as so many businesses have wrong information online. They may want to ask what your patio dining set-up is like. Menu questions,etc. Don’t forget to have an email that they can reach you on and make sure to respond timely. Messaging on Instagram and Facebook should be easy and timely as well for customers.
3. Do More Social Media Now. I have one restaurant that we go to and also get take-out from. They never fail to send at least one if not more emails weekly on what is going on and what specials they have. They also do regular Zoom calls with wine tastings. Instagram and Facebook posts are frequent. The hashtags they use help them to get new business and they don’t just use the same ones over and over. Cover all bases, so email, and social media. Engage with the customers on social media – so if they comment make sure to comment back. Make sure to take photos of your dining space and customers enjoying themselves.
4. Get Creative so Customers Engage. Weekly or more often specials either on food or wine/cocktails. This will get folks in and then they purchase more. It may also get you new customers. Zoom calls – these are still good to bring in folks. Make sure to have a topic they will be interested in and make sure to have food and wine/cocktail specials to go with it. If you have in person dining you can do wine pairing dinners, wine tastings, wine education, special guest chefs and wine makers. Taco Tuesdays took off – make up your own version that fits your restaurant. Hook up with a local charity to do an event – either remotely or in person. This helps you and them, and gets you exposure to all new customers.
5. Contact Influencers and Become One yourself. These may be right under your noise. Look to see who regularly comments on posts and who have many followers. Who writes blogs? Think about writing a weekly or biweekly blog. Maybe Facebook and Instagram Live. Chances are you have expertise in your field – wine? Food? Whatever it may be folks are interested in your knowledge -and stories.
6. Contact Local Media Outlets. Local media outlets are always looking for an interesting story to share. In my landscaping business I made sure to get on TV or radio as often as possible. So put on your thinking cap and come up with a great story – and it could be the charity event you are doing, or local farmers you are sourcing from or local wineries. Or maybe a personal story that would be worth sharing. Many local online promoters such as The Juice that focuses on wine, will list your event for free – take advantage of that.
7. Make your Outdoor Dining Space Inviting. Plants, table cloths, nice lighting create a nice ambiance. The customer wants to have a dining experience even in times like this and will spend more to have that. So what you may think is superfluous may be what will get the folks to go to your restaurant rather than the one across the street.
This may seem daunting, but the good news is that most of these don’t require a lot of money. Less time than you think if you are good at cutting and pasting or sharing. My suggestion would be to carve out 1 -2 hours per day if you can to do this. Or at least 5 hours per week. Your customers want you to survive, and by following these suggestions you will at least have a good shot.