Do you want a steady stream of new patrons dining at your restaurant?

We’ve got some fresh, fun and low-maintenance restaurant gimmicks to help you WOW your restaurant guests.

Read on to find out exactly how to build a happy and loyal customer base. We guarantee that these gimmicks are super simple to implement.

So let’s begin…


1. Facilitate Online Reservations

OK confession time: Do your customers have to queue or make long endless phone calls to make reservations? Let me say this straight: If you answered ‘yes’, you are losing out – you are not making their experience effortless and enjoyable.

Now, listen to this very carefully: you need to put your restaurant at your customer’s fingertips through an online booking system. This automation option allows you to;

Run your operations efficiently: There is zero chance of human error as opposed to phone calls. Plus, with a few clicks your customers can easily search and select the menu options. Additionally, you can send follow up emails, text messages and build an email list for your marketing strategies.

Attract new customers: If you provide a convenient, easy-to-use online booking solution, customers will always prefer your services. Also, you’ll be better placed to reach a wider audience and attract new customers.

2. Master the Art of Upselling

Ask yourself this question: Are you upselling ‘too much’ or are you not upselling enough? Upselling is an art that has to be delicately balanced; you’d want to offer helpful suggestions to your customers but not annoy them while you’re at it. If done correctly, upselling will boost your revenue and impress your customers.

Often, they will appreciate your thoughtfulness of going the extra mile to suggest menu items that they wouldn’t have thought to order on their own.

Here are a few tips;

  • Position your menu items strategically in order to naturally persuade the customer to order complimentary items.
  • Make the upsell enticing by training your staff to be more convincing. Nicole Kelly of Restaurant & Catering Association suggests having a staff competition on upselling. You can offer a bottle of wine (that you have received as bonus stock) as an incentive for the staff member that sells the highest yield dish.
  • Pay close attention to customer cues.
  • Take advantage of tools like online ordering to upsell. Conveniently featuring digital menus with clickable elements can entice customers. Also, clever mentions such as “customers that ordered this, also ordered…” is an effective upsell technique.
  • Do not close the guest’s bill too early. Never assume they are done.

Always remember that good upselling is almost undetectable.

3. Communicate Effectively with Employees

Your employees are an integral part of your business. Demonstrate that to them by ensuring that they have basics such as clean and neat uniforms and that their health and wellness needs are being met.

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Also, strive to have an open dialogue with your staff. Let them know your plans for the business, sales performance and bottom line. Short meetings before each shift would be ideal.

4. Retain First Time Customers

Train your staff to be on the lookout for first time customers. Provide them the best service possible. It’s the first and only chance you’ve got to make a good first impression – give them the warmest welcome. Here are some points to keep in mind;

  • Say “Thank You” and ask them to visit again soon. Hand them a discount coupon to use on their next order
  • Get their valuable feedback to help you improve your restaurant
  • Consistently reach out to them with useful and relevant updates
  • Let them know that you care by sending them birthday wishes

5. Keep the Freebies Coming

WOW your customers by giving away free food when introducing a new menu item or service. If they love it, they may just order this item. Some other ideas are;

  • Surprise a regular customer with an unannounced gift
  • Offer customers sneak previews of upcoming services and menu additions
  • Deliver an appetizer or dessert on-the-house
  • Give customers pre-packaged food at the end of the meal
  • Showcase a customer’s music, art, published work etc. at your restaurant

Freebies versus discounts provide unrivalled value for customers.

6. Music and Food: A Match Made in Heaven?

Play the right music for the right purpose to achieve your intended effect. And that could include;

  • To accompany and enhance the food
  • Create the perfect ambiance
  • Influence menu choices
  • Make customers eat faster to increase table turnover

Learn more on the psychology of restaurant music to help you give your patrons the perfect dining experience and have them coming back for more.

7. Wine to Dine Specials

Invite your customers to help you select new wines on your wine list for a seasonal change. Also, on a slow season, consider collaborating with local wineries for a special wine event.

Another great idea from Nicole Kelly of Restaurant & Catering Association is to use bin-ends as a special ‘wine-by-the-glass’ to move stock no longer listed. Thus getting a return on unused stock, while offering variety for your guests.

8. Liven Quiet Days

Slow seasons are inevitable, but you can do something about it;

Offer a themed breakfast, lunch or dinner menu: On slow seasons throw themed parties to boost your business. Rave about it on social media to get the word out.

Instagram food of the day: Create a catchy name for your daily specials and promote them on Instagram.

9. Set up or Join Food Markets

Use food markets and food bazaars to help you get discovered by a whole new demographic. Set up one or find one in your area. This collaborative selling approach will help you network and in the process attract more customers.

10. Bring Your Own Night

If you don’t serve alcohol, you could organise a bring-your-own night.

11. Offer a Take Home Option

If you are a sit-down restaurant, offer your customers the flexibility to opt for taking away meals. Package the meals properly for travel along with the heating and serving instructions.

The Secret Sauce

Wouldn’t it be great to have your restaurant fully packed with happy patrons? Now you have the secret sauce. All you have to do now is try out these fun gimmicks.

But wait there’s more. We’ve got a list full of compelling ideas to help you run a sustainable restaurant business. So go ahead and check them out.

Photos courtesy of:
Flicker Images by Mo Riza
Unsplash Images by rawpixel
Unsplash Images by Claudia Romero-Dneprovski
Pexels Images by Snapwire
Pixabay Images by larsen9236