Whether you just launched your new restaurant or are trying to increase your customer base, you want to always be bringing in new customers. New customers mean you get the chance to increase the number of loyal customers. There are a few easy ways to attract new customers and get the word out about your restaurant. Some of these are free, and some come at a very low cost. Either way, you'll definitely be seeing a return on investment.
Google Business Listing
The first thing you want to do is to make sure you have an online presence for people to easily find you. On Google, you have the option of creating a business listing with all of your information, such as location, phone number, website link, etc. This shows up when people search for your business or are local and searching for services similar to yours.
This is free to do and takes maybe 15 minutes to set up. Here is an example of one that is fully set up with all the necessary information.
It will also benefit you to create a website if you don't already have one. You want it to be updated with important information and have features like seeing your menu, as well as placing orders.
Promote on Social Media
On top of having a business listing, you want to make sure that you have active social media accounts. For restaurants, it's best to focus on Instagram and Facebook. Twitter is a great platform to share information but can sometimes fall on the back burner. We have a great guide on social media for restaurants that you can check out here!
By using Instagram and Facebook, you can promote your business with ads or even having a small contest for customers to win a prize. A lot of businesses will do this by saying "Share this post to be entered into our $20 gift card giveaway". Or, they might say you need to like their page on Facebook. There are many ways to do this that have proven to be successful.
Aside from running ads and contests, just being active on social media and engaging with users in your area can give you some exposure. It might seem difficult to keep up with social media accounts, but you can make it easy by sharing images that your customers took, or dedicating an employee to run the page.
Offering a one-time discount to new customers is a great way to get them to visit your restaurant. This is similar to how retail or other service-based companies will offer a 10-15% discount for new customers. You can advertise this on social media or even in any ads that you run.
Also, consider offering discounts for holidays or special events. This could be something like a Mother's Day/Father's Day special, Valentine's Day special, etc. If you have new customers that have recently visited your store or signed up for your loyalty program, offer them a birthday discount.
Host Events or Parties
A great way to attract new people is allowing your restaurant to serve as a meeting ground for activities. This can be a cooking class or themed dinner parties. Being able to get people out of the house and into your restaurant for special events will give you an increase in your customer base.
Partner with Local Businesses
If you want to use your networking skills to your advantage, partnering with local businesses is a great way to attract new clients. Let's say you own a bakery and you want to introduce your items to customers. You can ask a local cafe or restaurant if you can showcase your products on their menu or even in their location. Keep in mind this is probably best if they're local and aren't a large chain restaurant.
You can also partner with businesses that aren't food-related. Offer a discount for a local business that is looking for catering or a hosted event. Who knows, this might even become a regular event!
Another easy way to partner with local businesses is to ask permission to hang flyers or leave business cards with them. This is best if they aren't a competitor but instead complement your restaurant.
Participate in Big Events
Consider working at big events to gain exposure for your restaurant. There is a long list of options here but i'll narrow it down. You can work at tournaments, conferences, business events, fairs, New Years Eve parties, sporting events, and more. This is just the beginning of the type of large-scale services you can offer. Not only does it give you a reputation in the community, but it gives hundreds of people a chance to try what you have to offer.
Make sure before you commit to an event like this that you are prepared to take on the challenge. If you have never planned to cook for a certain amount of people at once, ensure you do the proper planning and have all the logistics sorted out.
You can also host large events at your restaurant. If you are a casual restaurant, considering staying open for big sporting events or holidays where people like to go out.
Lastly, consider implementing a loyalty program with features that are beneficial to new and existing customers. You can also advertise your loyalty program on your social media as well as in your locations. Consider choosing a loyalty program that offers referral points, as well as newcomer rewards and points.
Overall, there are many ways to attract new customers to your restaurant. Regardless of if you're in a small or large town, usually a new restaurant starts some buzz in the community. If you are established and are just looking to increase your customer base, the best way to create buzz is getting connected with your community and offering discounts and promotions.