You can’t have a business without customers. It’s a simple, obvious fact, but it must be said. Centuries ago, if you wanted to sell food, you could go set up in a small frontier town, churn out beans or bread, or whatever you wanted, and have a steady stream of customers. You were probably the only “restaurant” in town.
Today, in most towns and certainly in all big cities, there’s a very competitive restaurant landscape. The same is true in almost every industry.
How many restaurants are within a 15-minute drive of where you’re sitting reading this right now? In one study, researchers found that people were willing to drive up to 3.3 miles to eat at a sit-down restaurant, but the median distance they were willing to drive was 1.4 miles.
In most towns, restaurants are placed relatively close together. If your restaurant is only one of, for example, five restaurants within that 1.4-mile radius, how do you ensure customers come to you and not one of your competitors?
How Far Will Customers Travel to a Business?
Whether your business is a restaurant, an auto repair shop, or a salon, you absolutely must ensure that people in your area, as well as people traveling through your area, find their way through your doors. Let’s look at some more statistics about how far customers are willing to travel, this time for any typical business, not just restaurants.
These statistics are related to everyday purchases such as fuel, food, clothing, and groceries. 93.2% of consumers generally won’t travel longer than 20 minutes to make everyday purchases. In fact, 87% won’t even travel longer than 15 minutes. The numbers are about the same when you focus purely on urban consumers instead of all consumers.
Remember that the above numbers reference “typical businesses” and that customers are sometimes willing to travel much farther. As an extreme case, there used to be a destination restaurant in Sweden called Fäviken. It was deep in the wilderness and yet heavily booked at all times. It was also very expensive. The point is, if you can offer a unique experience that nobody else in your area can or is willing to offer, you increase the distance and time people are willing to travel to spend money at your business.
Destination businesses aren’t just restaurants. If you’re in the auto body business, you can make your shop a destination, too. A great way to do so would be to offer services around specific car brands that nobody else around you offers; specialize in Mercedes Benz work, and anyone who owns one will come to your business when they need service. This is just about finding a niche that isn’t filled in your local competitive landscape and filling it.
If you’ve got a creative streak, there are other ways of making your business a destination. This could look like zany, over-the-top decor, a novelty menu item, or a novelty food challenge for restaurants. “Eat this 2-foot long burrito in 15 minutes, and it’s on the house, plus you get a t-shirt. Otherwise, you pay for it.”
That said, regardless of if you’re a destination business or a little more typical, none of it matters unless people know about your business.
Attracting Customers to Your Business
You can’t just build a business from scratch and expect customers to start flowing in. Sure, if you’re located in an area with significant foot traffic, and you’ve got a bright facade and signage, you’ll get some bites. If they liked what they found, those first people might spread the news via word of mouth to their friends and family. It used to be possible to build a business this way, and in some scenarios, it still is. For most people, though, advertising has become a necessity.
Billboard advertising is an excellent tactic for almost any business, as long as the price is within your budget. Locals who drive past the billboard every day will have no choice but to remember every bit of information you’ve put into the design. It’ll be ingrained in their mind, and they’ll be exponentially more likely to visit your business than they would have before. You’ll also attract travelers, or people passing through, who might be looking for a business like yours on their route.
Grocery store advertising is also very important, more so for local customers than travelers. Remember that statistic above about how far customers are willing to travel? If you make an advertisement for a grocery store, you want to be sure your business is as close to that store as possible. The reason for that is the people shopping at that grocery store live nearby. If you advertise in a grocery store half an hour from your business, your advertisement will not be very effective.
The best way to do grocery or supermarket advertising is with Cartvertising. Whenever someone uses a cart to do their shopping, they’ll be looking at your advertisement the entire time. Every time they put something in their cart, plus the whole time they’re unloading it at the checkout. Shopping cart advertising rates are affordable for most businesses. Give it a try, make sure that the grocery store you’re advertising in is near your business.
If you situate your business in the right location, offer unique goods and services, and plan your advertising strategy right, you’ll have new customers in no time. Be smart and be proactive!