Most restaurants fail. Yet many manage to beat the odds and grow to be profitable, successful businesses. Those who make it don’t succeed by sheer luck; success in the restaurant industry is the result of good food, hard work, and smart marketing.
The first two are obvious enough, but the third–smart marketing–may be the most neglected ingredient in the recipe for a profitable restaurant. It can be the difference between an exhausting failure and an invigorating success. One simple strategy to achieve restaurant success is running leaner targeted promotions with the help of text messaging.
Most restaurants market themselves somehow, but how does a restaurant market “smarter”? By taking advantage of emerging trends, new technology, and cold hard facts.
Here’s a bite-sized taste of each to help you build a better restaurant.
Trends: Young people eat out at restaurants significantly more than their older generations. Adults 18-24 eat and drink outside the home more than any other age group. Catering to young people is a smart way to bring in extra profits.
Technology: 60% of young people, and 42% of the general population, say their dining-out decisions are influenced by digital media. Digital media marketing, such as social networking and text marketing, can drive valuable guest traffic, resulting in higher revenue.
Facts: Increasing customer loyalty is the most powerful way to increase profits: while frequent guests represent only 15% of a typical restaurant’s customers, they account for 33% of revenue. Harvard researchers found that increasing repeat visits by just 5% can raise profits by 25% to 125%.
The takeaway: Guest loyalty initiatives, particularly ones appealing to young tech-savvy guests who visit restaurants the most, are an effective way to achieve a high-revenue restaurant. Loyalty programs deployed via text messaging are an easy solution that fits the bill.
Here are 5 simple marketing strategies to keep your guests returning and your restaurant profiting. All these strategies can be implemented without text messaging, but it as it’s mobile and ubiquitous among frequent guests, it may be the most effective medium.
1. Coupons & Discounts
Offering discounts or coupons to your guests is a great way to entice them to return. Research shows that 68% of young people say coupons influence their brand decisions, compared to 53% of the general population. Delivering coupons via text message can direct guest traffic to your restaurant when you need it the most. Since 90% of texts are read in 3 minutes, sending a text coupon to loyal customers can fill your restaurants during slow hours and days. Responding proactively to downtimes will make your slowest days more profitable.
Example: “Mesquite Grill Coupon – Monday Night Football Special! All entrees 20% off, tonight only!”
2. Weekly Specials
It’s what motivates repeat customers to return: new culinary delights served up every week. Advertising your mouth-watering weekly specials prominently can entice valuable repeat guests to dine in more often. Consider updating your loyal customers a couple times a month with texts about new specials.
Example: “Italiano’s Chef Special of the Week: Bistecca Gorgonzola – Premium filet topped w/ blue cheese sauce, grilled onions & asparagus.”
3. Events & Guests
Holding special events and featuring musical guests are exciting ways to draw in repeat customers. Unfortunately, these events can fall flat if not properly promoted. Signs and flyers are a good start, though there’s no guarantee your guests will notice them. Offering your patrons the opportunity to receive text alerts for their favorite events will ensure everyone gets in on the excitement.
Example: “Tommy’s Irish Pub & Grill – Come down for some traditional Celtic music at Tommy’s! See the Boys of Eire perform this Wednesday from 6-9pm!”
Sweepstakes and giveaways are a classic marketing tactic–and for good reason: they work. Since everyone loves winning something for nothing, contests are a great way to generate excitement about your business. Consider giving away a free dinner or a $100 gift certificate to your restaurant.
Sweepstakes are particularly easy to run with text messages, and are one of the most common ways to subscribe guests to other text promotions.
Example: “Text PRIMO to 555888 for a chance to win a FREE Steak Dinner for 4 and to receive monthly discounts to Primo’s Steakhouse.”
Any successful business knows that customer feedback and engagement is paramount; a good restaurant will be constantly calibrating itself to customer response. Casual polls and votes are a straightforward way to give your guests a voice and to hear their input. Asking guests to engage, whether by choosing a new dish or reviewing their overall experience, can start long-lasting conversations that fuel your business for years.
Polls are another common use of text marketing; it allows the guest to take a quick, fun, and low-commitment action to provide instant feedback.
Example: “Ice Creamery – What’s your favorite new flavor? Reply A) Strawberry Smash, B) Peanut Butter Blitz, or C) Cookies n’ Creme de Menthe. Winning flavor will stay for good!”
Sources from Gene Sigalov
- Demographics for Restaurants
- Restaurants’ Traffic to Remain Flat in 2012; Competition and Battle for ‘Stomach-Share’ to Heat Up, According to AlixPartners Study
- Creating Repeat Customers at Your Restaurant
- Millennial Shoppers: Tapping Into the Next Growth Segment
This guest post is courtesy of Gene Sigalov. He is a SimpleTexting.com co-founder and leader in the SMS marketing industry. SimpleTexting.com is an easy-to-use platform that enables businesses to send customized text message marketing campaigns directly to their customers. Follow SimpleTexting on Twitter at @SimpleTexting, like them on Facebook, and read the latest in mobile marketing news on http://simpletexting.com/blog.
Image courtesy of nuchylee / FreeDigitalPhotos.net