From closing your doors late at night to being on call at all times of the day, running a restaurant is the ultimate full-time job. Even when you do find time for sleep, some things will inevitably keep you tossing and turning before you drift off. The most common among late-night worries, is, “How can I be sure we become (or continue to be) a profitable restaurant?” Even when business is good, this is on the minds of most restaurant owners.
To help you fall asleep faster tonight (or maybe it’s 2 am right now because you couldn’t sleep and started Googling), here are three things that can help your restaurant turn a bigger profit.
1. Increase the Rate of Return Customers
Gone are the days where dining at restaurants and ordering takeout were considered luxuries. Today, it’s the norm–and the numbers prove it. In 2016, research showed that Americans were spending $54 billion a year at bars and restaurants. As of early 2018, there were 660,755 restaurants in the United States. Simple math says that many of these restaurants are making the revenue they need. So how do you make sure you take as big of a piece of that pie as you can?
As someone who deals in customer service for a living, you’re probably familiar with the concept that it costs more to get a new customer than it does to keep the ones you already have. In other words, it’s worth it to spend time and money if it means keeping your customers satisfied and returning on the regular.
Have a real convo with your customers, even if it’s not in real life
We live in a digital world, and whether or not it’s your thing, you’ve got to embrace it–at least in your business life. Those people eating your food? Those are the same people who will be spreading the good word to their friends through online social shares, tweets, and hashtags – so get out there and rub elbows with them! Chat them up both in the restaurant and on social media. Ask specific questions about their experience. Make jokes. Be real. And while you’re at it, get them to pay attention to your Facebook page and other social media accounts to share the latest events or promotions you’re offering. When these customers and social media followers feel connected to you, they’ll want to come back to your restaurant, not just because of the food, but because they feel appreciated.
2. Manage Your Restaurant’s Online Reputation
So, there it is, for everyone to see. Someone has posted about you online, saying something about your restaurant that you don’t like or agree with on a review site like Google, Yelp or TripAdvisor.
To stay alive in the online review jungle, and so you can sleep at night, monitor review sites, engage with reviewers, and take action to fix problems. When readers see that you care, even negative reviews can have a positive impact.
Monitor the Major Review Sites
Ignorance may feel like bliss, but you have to know for better or for worse, what people are saying. Sometimes a bad review can help you fix a problem. And sometimes there are just angry people out there. Either way, you need to know when customers have feedback so you can make adjustments, give your staff a high five, and ultimately talk to your customer. Sign up for a review monitoring service like FreeReviewMonitoring.com. There are also paid services out there through review.com or others. Enter your information (which can take a little time up front but it’s worth it), and then make sure you have profiles on the sites where people tend to review restaurants.
Take Internal Action
These services will notify you when a review is posted on a third party website. If you receive a positive review, be sure you comment back to the reviewer and also share it with your team. If the review isn’t so great, investigate a little. There are three sides to every story: their side, your side, and the truth. So before you approach a team member or the customer with criticism, find out what happened from those who were involved (if you can) and then create a plan for improvement.
Respond to the Reviewer
It’s such a simple thing to do that can mean all the world to a reviewer. Whether they said something nice or not-so-nice, they are going to remember you if you take the time to reply. When it comes to negative reviews, take 30 minutes or so to consider what you want to say Responding in the heat of the moment might make the situation worse, so always respond kindly and positively.
3. Make Customers Choose You Versus the Competition
The right kind of marketing and advertising can set you apart from the pack. Remember, you don’t want to be generic–you want to be different! Right? And although the competition among restaurants is fierce, you can be successful. With careful planning and execution, marketing can get hungry customers—both new and returning—in the door, day after day. Not only does effective marketing help develop a positive public image, but it increases your reach and targets new customers.
Restaurant Coupon Marketing to Boost Your Bottom Line
It’s proven over and over that coupons and other promotions drive consumers to your restaurant. So where do you put your coupon offer for the best results? You have to get the coupon distributed… so why not get it into the hands of every grocery store shopper in your area?
Coupons on the back of grocery store receipts allow restaurant owners to deliver targeted, repetitive coupon offers to their potential customers. Plus, each grocery store limits two coupons to each category. Unlike other coupon mediums, like Groupon, you don’t have to worry about trying to stand out next to hundreds of other restaurants.
Ultimately, coupons entice new customers, reactivate old ones, and have the ability to expand or increase your reach in the market area. Unlike cost-cutting practices, coupon advertising has a proven return on investment.
Now it’s time to sleep happily, knowing that you can take ownership over some key things that will help keep customers walking through the doors, over and over again.
Finding the best ways to advertise in your local area is key to driving new customers through the door every single day. Learn more about some of the top restaurant marketing tactics and how to apply them to your restaurant.
We updated this post on May 22, 2019.