Opening a new restaurant in today’s economy can be a difficult task. More often than not, new restaurants fail within their first few years.
However, with the right location, impeccable restaurant hygiene, hardworking staff and intelligent strategy, your restaurant can not only survive but thrive.
Here is our list of marketing tips for new restaurants to consider when opening.
1. Build a Website
One of the first things that every new restaurant needs to do is to build their online presence. The web is the number one place that people look for a place to eat.
A recent study by OpenTable found that 86% of consumers research a restaurant’s menu online before dining out.
Having a strong online presence is more crucial to the success of every new restaurant than ever before. The best way to do this is to build a website for your restaurant.
Your website is the online home of your restaurant. Without a website, people won’t be able to find your restaurant online or the key information that they need to make a decision to dine there. It should be a part of every aspect of your restaurant from pre-launch to ongoing marketing campaigns.
2. Start a Loyalty Program
It’s always easier to keep an existing customer coming back than it is to find a new customer. Treat your existing customers like gold.
Starting a loyalty program is an efficient way to make your customers feel respected, receive value and be convinced to come back time and time again. Besides a nice ambient and excellent, high-quality food, this is one of the reasons why customers choose to come back to a restaurant.
You don’t need to use an expensive system with special cards to track points. Get your office printer to print some loyalty cards than can be stamped. For example, every time a customer purchases a meal from you – their card is stamped. 10 stamps and they receive a free appetiser, drink or dessert.
Do some research and see which restaurants already offer a loyalty program. If they’ve been running it for more than a few months then chances are it’s been successful for them.
Replicate some ideas while tailoring them to your restaurant. You can even survey existing customers to see what type of loyalty program or rewards they would be interested in.
3. Plan Your SEO Strategy
Every Italian restaurant wants to show up on Google first when people search for Italian restaurants in their area. The first option listed in Google search receives 30% of the click-throughs.
However, search engine optimisation (SEO) can take a very long time to start showing results. Which is why you should start planning your SEO strategy right from the beginning,
Here are a few things that you can do today to help boost your SEO results:
- Claim your Google+ pages
- List your restaurant on Google Maps
- Optimize your website for specific keywords (ie. “Jacksonville Italian Restaurant”)
- Claim every business listing possible (more on that below)
- Publish your menu on your website with text, not just images
- Make sure your website is mobile friendly
- Increase your website speed and get better hosting
- Get a lot of reviews, especially on Google+
Be consistent and patient. It may take a while for new restaurants to get good search results on Google and other search engines.
4. Claim Every Listing
One of the most important things for every restaurant to do, not just the new ones, is to claim every online listing.
The reason for this is to make sure that your restaurant is listed everywhere, to maintain control over your information, and to make sure that your restaurant’s information is accurate across the web.
Here is a starting list of places that you should claim your listing:
- Bing Places
- And many more
5. Organise Some Fun Events
Lastly, as a new restaurant, you need to create some buzz. Simply saying you’re now open for business isn’t going to generate a lot of interest if people don’t know who you are.
Organise some interesting and fun events at your restaurant that will get people through the door for the first time. People are often looking for something fun to do on a night out. They want more than just a nice dinner, and by offering that, you can convince those people to choose your establishment.
The same old events week after week (happy hours, karaoke etc.) may not cut it for a new restaurant as everyone else is already doing the same things.
Think outside the box and do something that no one else is doing. It doesn’t need to be time consuming for your staff, or expensive, just be unique and you’ll be surprised at how many customers show up.
These are just a few marketing tips that you should consider for your restaurant. Some ideas will work, some won’t. You need to constantly test and adjust to see what works for your restaurant, location and target customer.
Alsco would like to thank Stephen, the founder of Restaurant Den for this article. Restaurant Den is an all-in-one website design solution for restaurants, caterers, food trucks and more. They provide services to build and maintain your restaurant’s online presence.