Growing Your Restaurant’s Presence: 5 Tips
Once a restaurant establishes a following and gains a reputation, it can be difficult for the business to expand. You want to continue growing your restaurant with new features, but you also want to maintain the same experience that returning customers expect.
Follow these five tips to grow your restaurant’s presence without compromising its current structure.
- Expand Your Online Footprint
Word of mouth and reviews/testimonials are no longer enough to build a restaurant’s reputation. You need to be proactive online to continue to raise awareness about your brand and the services it provides. Make sure you’re using these essential online tools:
- Google My Business (GMB): you can list your restaurant’s address, hours, menu and other resources. If someone google searches your restaurant, all of that information will be the first result.
- Website: your restaurant’s website needs informative content. Blog posts, recipes, photo galleries of your dishes and an FAQ page are great resources for potential customers. It should also have an online ordering system.
- Social Media: Facebook, Instagram and other social media platforms are perfect places for you to interact with customers and get direct feedback about business ideas.
- Email Newsletters: this method of communication enables you to send important information and announcements to all clients and customers with the click of a button.
The internet allows you to expose your business to millions of people in seconds. Take full advantage of this technology to maximize your restaurant’s potential.
- Introduce New Services
Many areas still have restrictions on traditional indoor dining, which has allowed outdoor dining, delivery and takeout to expand. Hop on the bandwagon and add these services to your business model. Here are some innovative covid-compliant services many restaurants have adopted:
- More outdoor seating options: expand your restaurant’s capacity with outdoor tables, booths and tents.
- To-go menus: provide smaller to-go menus if customers don’t want the full menu.
- Curbside pickup: allow customers to pick up their food orders without interacting with a server. This strategy partners with the online ordering feature we mentioned earlier.
- Delivery/Takeout Services on Mobile Apps: partner with mobile apps like Grubhub and Doordash to expand your delivery and takeout services.
- Drive-Thru: add a drive-thru window to your building, if possible.
You can also add trending foods and beverages to the menu. For example, IPAs have been an unstoppable force in the last decade. Adding some IPA options to the beverage menu can generate a new revenue stream.
If you want to introduce one of these services, you need to go all-in. Have the courage to invest sufficient funds and effort into the project to maximize its success. As the old saying goes, you need to spend money to make money. Growing your restaurant will require some additional expenses.
- Offer Different Customer Programs
New customers and returning customers behave quite differently in restaurants, so you should offer different programs for each group. The programs could include these features:
- First-time Customer Program: coupons and special discounts/free side dishes with their first entree will incentivize new customers to come back. You should also encourage them to follow your social media accounts to participate in raffles and other promotions.
- Customer Loyalty Program: give loyal customers a membership card that tracks their purchases and makes them eligible for future discounts. Many non-restaurant businesses have adopted this model.
Encourage your waiting staff to ask customers if they’ve eaten at your restaurant before. The servers can adjust their service techniques based on the customers’ answers. If they get a new customer, they will be more descriptive with menu items. If they get a returning customer, they can safely assume the customer knows how to navigate the menu.
- Get Involved in the Community
A restaurant is an essential member of its community. People gather under one roof to enjoy good food and spend time with friends and family. You can use this idea to increase your involvement and influence in the community in many ways:
- Host a fundraiser.
- Donate food and money to local charities.
- Sponsor local youth sports teams.
- Collaborate with other small businesses.
- Start a trivia night and other weekly/monthly traditions.
- Participate in your city’s restaurant week.
Getting involved in the community is the right thing to do, but it’s also free publicity. People will see your business at these events and feel more inclined to spend their money to support you.
- Listen to Your Waiting Staff
Your waiting staff is the best resource for understanding customer behavior. Use their knowledge to improve your day-to-day operations. Additionally, encourage them to engage with customers and get more revenue from each table. Here are a few examples of how waiters and waitresses can help with growing your restaurant:
- Describe menu items and encourage people to order them.
- Treat all guests like they want an entree.
- Suggest more dishes as the meal progresses (additional beverages, side dishes, desserts, etc.).
Waiters can also tell you which menu items are popular/unpopular, allowing you to optimize your selection and introduce similar dishes. Listen to your staff, and good things will follow.
Stop Waiting, Start Growing
Growing your restaurant was a challenging task before the pandemic, and now the margin for error is even slimmer. You can’t wait to change your business plan any longer. Expand your online presence, add new products and services, get involved in the community and listen to your employees. These tips will keep your restaurant relevant and enable its future prosperity.