• Rick Z

Three effective ways to increase your restaurant sales starting next week

The restaurant scene is a fast-moving, competitive environment. Today, restaurant marketing has to be conducted in both the digital realm and the real world. With the restaurant industry averaging below one percent in growth per year, and many restaurants are only growing sales by 1% to 3%, sales-building marketing efforts are essential. So what are some ways restaurant owners can grow sales in a short period of time? Let’s get right into three effective, sales-building ideas:

Loyalty marketing

The first cardinal sin of restaurant marketing is to mistakenly assume that marketing is just an activity and not goal/sales driven. Marketing should never be about “upkeep” or “maintenance.” Restaurant marketing should be about bringing in new business. In fact, in a web engine search on the word marketing, one can confirm that marketing is about promoting and selling (not one or the other).

A second cardinal sin is thinking loyalty marketing isn’t necessary. Aside from the obvious about what loyalty means—a customer is exchanging personal information and data about their restaurant visits with you in order to gain something in return, like a free food item or a discount, for example—there are many other advantages.

A loyalty program can give you valuable insights into the frequency of customer visits and spending. Restaurateurs can use the information from a loyalty program to market to customers that visit frequently and those that don’t. Consider the infrequent customers: If you know who they are, you can market to (email and/or text) them and include an enticement to bring them back more often. The reward system of any loyalty program isn’t the end all be all. Beyond those points, you can use frequency to segment customers into different groups and send them more customized emails.

For the big spenders, there are many ways to help them spend even more at your restaurant. These include VIP Clubs, VIP events, discounts on ticketed dinners, and offering them rebates or cash back on large spend amounts. Restaurants can create more strategic offers by knowing who comes in to the restaurant with what frequency and how much they spend.

By having the insights into customers’ habits, restaurateurs can send customers offers that make sense to them, rather than blanket offers, like “Get $5 off your next visit.” For customers that come in daily, it’s just a bonus and may not change any habits. Definitely, reconsider this offer.

For those who spend $100 every Friday at your restaurant, the offer may also not offer any motivation to spend or visit more. But with loyalty programs, restaurateurs can provide customized incentives to change habits, creating more pathways to sales-building and also making themselves more relevant to customers.

Third party delivery - integration, customization

Everybody is hammering home the impotence of third-party deliverance services. Third-party delivery may be a necessary evil today, but the relationship can still be engineered to be a win or the independent restaurateur. Let’s discuss integration and customization to help manage this more effectively.

First of all, the four tablets on your front counter or bar that manage your third party orders aren’t going to come alive and start helping wait tables or wash dishes, right? So, why not integrate these into one funnel that goes directly into the POS. There are providers that offer direct integration and there are tech companies that can integrate all your third party orders into the POS so you can dispense with the tablets and allowing tickets to print directly into the kitchen to prepare those orders.

While there’s an expense for integration, this will help your operations to add capacity to what you are doing. In other words, if you have 15% extra orders today because of delivery, next week, you’ll be able to handle 30%. By integrating, this enables more order accuracy and to relieve a lot of the stress that comes with managing multiple orders on multiple devices. And delivery services will continue to improve technology. Uber Eats recently partnered with digital online provider Olo to send orders directly to the POS via Olo Rails. Geared toward chains, solutions like these will emerge for independent and single-unit restaurant operators.

Another way to make third party delivery work for a restaurant is in customized packaging. Don’t send another delivery order out with generic packaging, says one of our partners. Always have your logo, a website address and phone number on your packaging. Let customers know they can order directly from you for pick-up. And if you have your own drivers, share your delivery also. It won't do you any good to pay 25% to 30% to a third-party company when you already have (or can make) a direct connection with customers and fulfill the order yourself.

Remember that you want delivery to bring you new business—you never want to transition your regular customers to new channels (providers) at an added cost.

Third-party delivery companies may also have resources and information to help you get better at the delivery game. Don’t hesitate to use whatever lessons/resources/guidance that is included when you sign up with a third-party delivery company. There may be a lot to learn about keeping foods at temperatures to give delivery customers the best experience.

Also, use your packaging vendor as a resource, as well. Remember, there’s little room for error when it comes to delivery orders. Customers can quickly pounce when delivery orders aren’t right or food isn’t at the right temperature, and your review scores will start to negatively reflect that.

There are local consultants that can help restaurants launch or upgrade third-party delivery programs. Through our own marketing partner, we help businesses create a program that works for them and build incremental sales. A good third-party program will add sales, not undue expense for your business.

Create marketing that is goal driven

Lastly, make your marketing goal driven. I recently spoke to a restaurateur who told me he was happy with his marketing services, which I understood to mean the person managing his online presence (website, Google listing and monitoring reputation). I asked him how much business it was bringing him and he couldn’t answer. According to him, new business would come from walk-by traffic or from out of state. He was confident everyone else was aware of his business due to this web presence, which, however, is not necessarily true.

New business (traffic) can come from a myriad of sources, including social media, online, CBOs (community-based organizations), neighboring businesses, churches, advertising, and more. That’s why having goal-oriented marketing is not a suggestion, it’s an imperative!

Here are a specic ways to make goal-oriented restaurant marketing a reality:

  • Add clear goals to your marketing plans. “When we do this, we will get this.” Many business owners that are seemingly purposeful do not actually have a purposeful marketing plan.

  • Add goals to any website marketing plan and have those who are in charge of online marketing show you how much new business is being brought in. Why? Because as a restaurant owner, you can always find a marketing expense. Here, you are actually looking for returns on your investment. And online marketing is evolving and needs upkeep. On way to tell is this: Create online-only incentives and then see if those are found. It’s just one of many ways you can task your online marketer to deliver results and to understand if you need to show them the door or keep them for the long run.

  • PR (public relations) isn’t marketing, but it is very essential. PR can be very effective when you have something to announce to the world, e.g. a new menu, a remodel, new outdoor space, etc.) But this too, needs to be goal driven. How many write-ups did you get last year as a result of PR efforts? Well, this year getting 10 percent more would be a good goal. Did that big write-up lift sales by 5% last year? Well, this year target 10%. Treat vendors the same way you would treat yourself—be demanding and exacting.

  • Are you paying an outside contractor for social media. Don’t pay to post pay to get new business. Put “fan only” offers on Facebook,for example. Then see if anyone redeems those offers. Create a secret menu that’s only revealed to Instagram fans, and see if those items are ordered. There are easy ways to see if social media is giving you business.

Start by making these efforts goal driven. In short time, you’ll start seeing marketing as an investment and a sales-builder, rather than an expense. Ready to start? Reach out for help by contacting us at success@arel7consulting.com or reviewing our solutions.

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