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Ways to attract more customers to your restaurant.

post #1 of 29
Thread Starter 

Just wanted to know the best ways of promoting a new restaurant. My uncle newly started one and unfortunately, he chose a place surrounded by well flourished restaurants. Of Course, there is no possibilities of changing the location, but could there be any better modes of promotion that could get more customers.

post #2 of 29
I think being in an area with other restaurants could be a good thing, it could mean more traffic.

There are certain criteria I look for in a restaurant. Good food, good reviews, friendly service, and a sparkling clean bathroom. The people who will market the place for you are your customers so make sure you keep your social media active. Instagram is a must. Keep an eye on your yelp reviews and try to address the customers who write bad reviews with a complimentary drink on their next visit and listen to their complaints carefully.

Offer specials. Offer incentives. It takes a lot to get people through the door but good food and good service will keep them coming back.

"You are what you eat, so don't be fast, cheap, easy, or fake."

Reply

"You are what you eat, so don't be fast, cheap, easy, or fake."

Reply
post #3 of 29

Being in an area of restaurants that are doing well is an advantage.  Customers come to the area to eat and choose where when they get there.  You need to do a marketing plan.  Among other things you should address place, product, and price.  To address Place, Product, and Price you will construct a Perceptual Map with your restaurant and other eateries in the area on this map.  A marketing consultant may be needed to do this.  Remember marketing and advertising are not the same thing.

Good luck 

post #4 of 29

I agree, being in an area already populated by a number of restaurants can is a good thing.  It means more traffic.  There's a reason you see restaurants grouped together and why many corporations often open up different concepts right beside each other (think Red Lobster and Olive Garden which both were owned by Darden).

 

As much as some people here are going to hate me for saying this-you really need to embrace social media to get your message out and help to build your following.

 

Beyond that, make sure that you are offering something the other places aren't and work with your staff, constantly, to ensure both the service and the food is top notch, for your concept.  Give people a reason to come back.  Offer incentives such as loyalty cards, if your place is that kind of restaurant (meaning I wouldn't do it if I was fine dining, but most definitely if you are a sandwich or pizza place).

 

Get some press releases out there.  Make sure the local paper knows you are there so you can get reviewed, or if you are in a smaller community like me, the opening of a new place can be newsworthy itself, especially if you are local and going up against national chains.

 

In the past I've also gone out and given menus to hotels and have even gone so far as to give front desk staff and managers coupons for free drinks or free meals to get them excited about the place.  That excitement will yield recommendations.

 

Of course, you can always spend a lot of money on a marketing campaign, but if you are a small, independent start up, that isn't always feasible.  You just need to come up with creative ways to market yourself.

 

If you give us a little more information about what kind of place it is, we might be able to better help you out with ways to market your place that won't break the bank.

post #5 of 29

I am a Yelp Elite Reviewer, which means that people generally find my reviews useful. I am new to Greensboro and to North Carolina so I need all the help I can get finding great places. I have learned quite easily to determine the worth of an establishment by their Yelp reviews. So do others. Therefore, reviews are important. Any successful business will not endure unless they listen to their customers. Engage with customers and fix the problems promptly. Read your reviews and those of establishments similar to yours – see what the customers like.

 

You must understand what the customers want. Also, your staff must be party to the success and they must be trained. There is high staff turn around in restaurant business and keeping the good ones requires motivation.

 

Offering special event menus allow you to draw in new customers and gain newspaper exposure.

 

Nothing works better for success than word of mouth and good reviews.

 

Lack of cleanliness, bad odors, rude staff, and poor service are killers.

post #6 of 29

It's been said already in this thread but I will just reiterate that being in a neighborhood of flourishing restaurants can be a very good thing. I think it probably depends on the nature of the neighboring restaurants and businesses.

 

My neighborhood is a destination neighborhood in Chicago and last year made Redfin's top 10 neighborhoods in the nation--largely because of its booming restaurant scene which offers a variety very good restaurants at many price points. 

 

However, the key to this neighborhood's success--and that of many interesting neighborhoods I have visited around the country- is that those neighborhoods with a high concentration of restaurants offer a diversity of dining options, many ethnic offerings, many price points and a lot of other interesting things to do in the area: little theaters, indy owned shops, maybe a place to get a drink. What is usually absent in those areas is chain restaurants. And chain stores in general. Sometimes a Starbuck's or Carabou or Argo manages to sneak in, but usually only after the indy businesses have made the neighborhood their own.

 

Also, if there is a Chamber of Commerce or a Development Corporation in the area--JOIN. The other thing that sets successful neighborhoods apart is the deep community commitment and involvement of the neighborhood businesses. The Chamber or DevCorp will help you join in with group efforts to promote the entire area.

post #7 of 29
Depending on the kind of restaurant, budget, etc.

Free or low cost publicity, I.e.

Look into ads in local free newspapers, bulk mailing of menus to locals, or fliers in local neighborhoods.

Unobstructed sign/restaurant name.

Menu displayed in window and/or menus outside of restaurant for passerbys.

Chalkboard on sidewalk/outside of restaurant showing specials, etc.

A few tables and chairs outside, or open door depending on the weather, so folks can smell the aroma of the food and walk right in.

Unobstructed view inside the restaurant. A full house and nice decor may draw people in.

I've seen chefs/owners on the local morning News showing their dishes -- always makes my mouth water.

If all else fails, set some klieg lights outside at sunset. :-)

Best of luck and success. Let us know how it goes.
Edited by Cerise - 2/23/16 at 1:30am
post #8 of 29

Oh My God, YES...for restaurants in a pedestrian friendly area--there MUST be a menu posted in the window.  With descriptions and prices. There is a lovely restaurant in my neighborhood whose opening I eagerly anticipated for over a year. It opened 6 months ago. I walk by it almost every day. Have I eaten there yet? NO.  I'm more than  willing to go in there based on what it is supposed to be--Farm to table Mexican. Great idea! But I have no idea if I can afford a dinner there or not.

 

There is no menu posted on their website, either. I always look there, too.

 

Chalk boards with specials out front are also a great idea.

post #9 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by ChicagoTerry View Post

Oh My God, YES...for restaurants in a pedestrian friendly area--there MUST be a menu posted in the window.  With descriptions and prices. There is a lovely restaurant in my neighborhood whose opening I eagerly anticipated for over a year. It opened 6 months ago. I walk by it almost every day. Have I eaten there yet? NO.  I'm more than  willing to go in there based on what it is supposed to be--Farm to table Mexican. Great idea! But I have no idea if I can afford a dinner there or not.

There is no menu posted on their website, either. I always look there, too.

Chalk boards with specials out front are also a great idea.

Same here. There's a fancy shmancy Italian Northern Italian cuisine restaurant close by, with valets hanging around; but, I have no idea what ithey're all about - price, dishes. There's too much competition, to go Google them to get the lowdown.
post #10 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by ChicagoTerry View Post
 

Oh My God, YES...for restaurants in a pedestrian friendly area--there MUST be a menu posted in the window.  With descriptions and prices. There is a lovely restaurant in my neighborhood whose opening I eagerly anticipated for over a year. It opened 6 months ago. I walk by it almost every day. Have I eaten there yet? NO.  I'm more than  willing to go in there based on what it is supposed to be--Farm to table Mexican. Great idea! But I have no idea if I can afford a dinner there or not.

 

There is no menu posted on their website, either. I always look there, too.

 

Chalk boards with specials out front are also a great idea.

 

What's stopping you from going in and asking for a menu?  

"You are what you eat, so don't be fast, cheap, easy, or fake."

Reply

"You are what you eat, so don't be fast, cheap, easy, or fake."

Reply
post #11 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by Koukouvagia View Post

What's stopping you from going in and asking for a menu?  

Probably the same thing that stops me from going in and asking for a menu.
post #12 of 29

They are competing for my time and my business in an area with dozens of excellent dining choices and where every other restaurant has their menu posted so that I can see it when I walk down the street. They need to make this easy. It is really not at all the norm here in Chicago to not have the menu posted where it can be seen from the sidewalk.

 

I don't want to have to go in and talk to anyone, especially if it is going to turn out that, though I may want dinner, I'm not going to be able to afford more than an appetizer. I may want to look at that menu (and those prices) a few times before I make a decision to walk through the door. It is also really unusual for a restaurant not to have a menu on their website.

post #13 of 29

Pete

"As much as some people here are going to hate me for saying this-you really need to embrace social media to get your message out and help to build your following"

I agree with Pete this may be the most cost effective way to get known.

 

Steve TPHC

I read YELP reviews and find them somewhat useful.  Meaning no disrespect I also find them strictly amateur with no set parameters.  Many rate fast food chains with five stars.  

post #14 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jimyra View Post

Pete
"As much as some people here are going to hate me for saying this-you really need to embrace social media to get your message out and help to build your following"
I agree with Pete this may be the most cost effective way to get known.

Steve TPHC
I read YELP reviews and find them somewhat useful.  Meaning no disrespect I also find them strictly amateur with no set parameters.  Many rate fast food chains with five stars.  
It's true that you can't get a complete picture through yelp unless you know how to read between the lines. Some reviewers obviously don't know what they're talking about but there are many who can convey information that is useful and not personal.

And why shouldn't a fast food chain be rated?

"You are what you eat, so don't be fast, cheap, easy, or fake."

Reply

"You are what you eat, so don't be fast, cheap, easy, or fake."

Reply
post #15 of 29


And why shouldn't a fast food chain be rated?

 

Because they all serve crappy food.  The box the food comes in tastes as good at the food.

post #16 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jimyra View Post
 

 

 

Steve TPHC

I read YELP reviews and find them somewhat useful.  Meaning no disrespect I also find them strictly amateur with no set parameters.  Many rate fast food chains with five stars.  

 

Jimyra,

I agree that it can be difficult to wade through a bunch of amateurish reviews, but I do feel that you can get a pretty good, overall view of a place by reading numerous reviews.  Sure there is a lot of crap on Yelp, but there are also a lot of good, insightful reviews.

 

As to your comment about fast food chains with 5 stars I both agree and disagree.  While I personally don't feel that the vast majority of fast food chains deserve a 5 star review, I also believe in reviewing based on what the place is trying to be, which I admit can sometimes be difficult.  If you look at it this way, you can justify a diner that is rated 5 stars while still a high-end place can rate only 2 stars.  That being said, I would have a hard time rating any McDonald's as 5 stars, even if it was the cleanest, most efficient store in the entire chain, but I can totally justify giving 5 stars to that little diner, down the street,  that uses fresh ingredients, has a great menu of classic diner fare, and has killer service where I can get an entire meal for the less than the price of an appetizer at a high end place.

post #17 of 29
Do you offer delivery and a lunch menu? Back to mailing menus to the locals. I open the mailbox, and the menus come tumbling out. Most offer free delivery, lunch menu, map, phone number etc. I save the ones that look good, and keep them in a kitchen drawer.

Some folks that work (in offices, etc.), don't have time for lunch, let alone drive to a restaurant. Delivery might be a determining factor when choosing a restaurant - even when at home.

Some restaurants are almost empty at lunch, but the phone seems to be ringing off the hook for delivery.
Edited by Cerise - 2/23/16 at 6:17pm
post #18 of 29
Also, perhaps consider curbside pickup -- particularly if you're competing w fast food drive thrus. Sometimes, people just want to get in and out.
post #19 of 29

In defence of Yelp, a lot of people use it. True some of the raters often equate great service with great rating or visa  versa. They equate food quantity with great rating or visa  versa.

 

I offer Fred B as a typical good review writer by offering his review of the Knife and Fork, Spruce Pine, NC. I compare his rating of places I like to my own and I certainly can take his advice to the bank! See what you think! (Think Zagat is better?)

For most of us committed foodies, there is something especially intriguing about a purportedly outstanding restaurant in a small town, the more remote and obscure the higher the interest level.

This restaurant in Spruce Pine, with a population of well under 3,000 located an hour northeast of Asheville in the Blue Ridge Mountains, seems to perfectly fit the bill. Throw in a firm commitment, in word and practice, to the wildly popular "farm to table" concept and the culinary game is a foot.

This small (40 seats or so) place was opened in July 2009 by owner and head chef, Nate Allen, who had spent the previous 10 years in Los Angeles honing his culinary skills. The restaurant is simply, yet stylishly, appointed, with a feeling of relaxed intimacy. Each table has a small, stone table setting with a knife and fork emblem and a living flower or herb growing from it. They have recently opened a large patio area, with vegetables and herbs growing in pots in and around the entire area, attractive and pleasant -  there's a large stack of split wood and a nice Green Egg Grill back there, as well.

Now to the food - the farm to table concept has grown substantially over the last few years in every area of the country, and has moved from eccentric,to fad, through chic, to a strong culinary reality, for those committed to it, and who do it thoroughly and properly. Much like the word "organic", the term "farm to table" is thrown around rather loosely, with no defining protocol or structure - many use it as a marketing tool, and their adherence to the spirit of the concept is shallow and thin, at best.  And in the final analysis, fine local meat and produce poorly cooked and plated is still a sad meal.

Nate Allen does the concept proud, and in meaningful ways takes it to a whole other level.  He has forged a strong relationship with many meat and produce suppliers in the local area, as well as elsewhere in the state - he goes out of the area, out of state only when he has no alternative - cheeses, for example.

He also has incorporated a number of indigenous plants and herbs into his dishes - Indian Cucumber (weird, hairy little dudes but tasty), Ramps, Poke Weed, Purslane (basically an edible weed), Wild Ginger,Wrinkled Crinkled Cress, and a variety of wild greens, and flowers. He uses tender baby vegetables and unusual items - like carrots, beets, rhubarb, lion mane mushrooms, and pea tendrils, for example - in creative ways that enhance the basic dish, and generally it surprises the hell out of you that you actually ate that, and loved it!

We started with the house made complimentary bread coupled with honey infused butter - and you can tell, oh yeah, this is gonna get good! We chose the Charcuterie Board, the small one for $12, The Seared Rabbit Loin entree ($20), and the Seared Trout entree ($22). To accompany this splendid repast, we chose a very nice zinfandel for Alice, and a Stoudt's Gold Lager for me - just wine and beer here.

The "small" Charcuterie Board was huge (check the photo, words don't do it justice) was loaded with house made meats (Liver Pate, Rabbit Terrine, 3 meat Head Cheese, Trout Tartar, and several others), fresh Bread, house made Pork Skins (outstanding), Indian Cucumbers, Ramps, a house made jam, and mustard. All of the meats were very flavorful, with the Head Cheese especially outstanding. The accompanying items were generally good, as well, though the Ramps should be consumed in small bites with meat and bread as buffer.

The Seared Rabbit Loin was nice tasting (at least for farm raised), but perhaps a bit underdone at medium rare for our taste - it was a touch chewy. The loin rested on top of a collection of Baby Beets, Sugar Snap Peas, and Purslane in a small amount of an outstanding broth. All in all this was an excellent dish, with a sublime combination of tastes and textures.

The Seared Trout was among the best I've ever tasted, exploding with an almost sweet flavor, well cooked, with a nice, crispy skin, the flesh flaking perfectly. The fish was atop young, Roasted Carrots, Napa Cabbage, cubed Rhubarb, and Pea Tendrils in another excellent broth, or Fumet - another great combination of tastes and textures.

We tried the Citrus Cake with Vanilla Ice Cream (absolutely amazing dessert) and Bread Pudding with Banana Ice Cream. The Bread Pudding was nice, but a little on the dense side, but the Banana Ice Cream was outstanding. Unfortunately they had no port or dessert wine to finish the meal with.

The service was very good - efficient, engaging, and knowledgeable. The Chef was constantly in the dining room, interacting with the customers, making sure all was right.

This was absolutely one of the best meals we've ever enjoyed - interesting, creative, and unusual combinations resulting in very deep, complex tastes, enjoyed in pleasant surroundings, and accommodated by great folks. We'll be back!

post #20 of 29

Some years ago I served as consultant to the Port of Portland, OR as they planned a development similar to Jack London Square in Oakland CA. The Oakland management recounted the resistance they encountered from the first two restaurants as they added others.. until everybody noticed their own business increased with the addition of every new restaurant.  With every new one,JLS became more of a destination, with people putting off a specific decision until they got there and looked around.   More  places and picks is a very good thing.

 

Mike .

travelling gourmand
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travelling gourmand
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post #21 of 29

I worked at Shenanigan's in Jack London Square....Some years ago.

post #22 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve TPHC View Post
 

I have learned quite easily to determine the worth of an establishment by their Yelp reviews. So do others. Therefore, reviews are important.

 

You are very right, basically these days people trust the word much more than any ads on the gastronomy niche, I believe is probably much likely to make deceitful choices here because people are prone to pick a place to have dinner strongly based on the looks of the place, the looks of the food or the cost of the menu, the "been there, done that" testimonial is being essential these days, I don't remember going out lately before checking positive reviews about a place. 

 

I guess the OP must invest on anything that can bring him that, very positive reviews.

post #23 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by Pete View Post
 

 

Jimyra,

I agree that it can be difficult to wade through a bunch of amateurish reviews, but I do feel that you can get a pretty good, overall view of a place by reading numerous reviews.  Sure there is a lot of crap on Yelp, but there are also a lot of good, insightful reviews.

 

As to your comment about fast food chains with 5 stars I both agree and disagree.  While I personally don't feel that the vast majority of fast food chains deserve a 5 star review, I also believe in reviewing based on what the place is trying to be, which I admit can sometimes be difficult.  If you look at it this way, you can justify a diner that is rated 5 stars while still a high-end place can rate only 2 stars.  That being said, I would have a hard time rating any McDonald's as 5 stars, even if it was the cleanest, most efficient store in the entire chain, but I can totally justify giving 5 stars to that little diner, down the street,  that uses fresh ingredients, has a great menu of classic diner fare, and has killer service where I can get an entire meal for the less than the price of an appetizer at a high end place.


I agree with you.  One of my go to places is a burger joint that my wife and I can get lunch for fifteen dollars including a generous tip.

post #24 of 29

Steve TPHC

I offer Fred B as a typical good review writer by offering his review of the Knife and Fork, Spruce Pine, NC. I compare his rating of places I like to my own and I certainly can take his advice to the bank! See what you think! (Think Zagat is better?)

 

I don't want to become personal in these comments.  Fred is certainty prolific and I am sure a good reviewer.  Why would anyone want to review Sonic and

Burger King over and over.  I do use YELP but I take all reviews as amateur reviews.  Sources such as Zagat are not much better.  I once had a food critic who worked for a local newspaper tell me that bad reviews do not sell advertising.  I apologize if I have offended you it was not intended.

 

Jimyra

post #25 of 29
Thread Starter 

Thank you so much for all your suggestion. I have although been thinking of doing some guerrilla marketing. Nobody around here has done such kind of advertising yet. Would love to do a wall projection from the Grassroots Advertising Inc., Toronto. What do you guys say about it?

post #26 of 29
Thread Starter 

http://www.grassrootsadvertising.com/what-we-have-done/unique-award-winning-executions/ Here's some of their work. I guess it would be great to get my ad done by them.

post #27 of 29

What kind of a restaurant is this? Who are your most like customer types? Seems to me, street marketing like posters has small exposure.

post #28 of 29

What sort of  area do you occupy?

@ChicagoTerry lives in a part of Chicago where everything is located on streets with sidewalks.

If she doesn't like her options there she can hop a bus and go to another neighborhood with the same set up.

Heaven I am thinking.

 

My situation is very different.

We have to get into the car and drive sometimes 30-45 min to reach the "good" places.

Where are you?

A strip mall or a stand alone or a neighborhood like Terry?

 

All have their own pluses (and minuses)  and all have different marketing approaches.

You don't want to waste precious advertising budget $$ when you may just end up drawing the traffic to your competition.

 

mimi

post #29 of 29

Well if I remember correctly from watching "Bar Rescue" Jon Taffer gave these tips:

 

1. Make your building/sign stand out

2. Have something on your menu that no other restaurant has. I.E. An original drink or food item that is only at your restaurant. 

3. Go visit the other restaurants and observe and take notes and see what they have and don't and try to get an idea what yours could use where this place missed it.

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