Getting started in the restaurant business needs to happen fast, because running a practically-empty establishment will quickly cause your costs to start spiralling out of control. You need to drum up some interest before that happens, so what can you do to get the word out?
Firstly, you need to make sure you start a coherent marketing plan that you can build on. Learning lessons early on is absolutely crucial and will shape the next stage of your development. Ensure you keep track of how your first customers found out about you, so you know which methods work best for you. Make sure you know who you’re targeting, too, because different demographics will be easier to reach through certain channels. Here are some of the ideas you might want to start trying, however.
1) Stand out in your location
One thing it’s important to get right is the look and feel of your actual restaurant. If the décor inside is attractive and you’re grabbing attention visually from passers-by, this will really help get you off the ground.
2) React to your surroundings
Things going on in your local area will have an immediate impact on your business. If more people are nearby for any specific reason, act fast and come up with a relevant promotion to draw them in. This brings us onto our next point…
3) Offer discounts to gain interest
People who are just starting out in the restaurant business are often horrified with the idea of cutting their prices, because they’re barely taking any money as it is. However, you shouldn’t be afraid to temporarily slash prices for promotions, because getting your name out there is much more important to begin with.
4) Start with a website
Your online presence will be especially vital in the early stages, because digital marketing is cheaper than traditional alternatives on the whole. You will need a website to begin with, and this has to really capture your restaurant’s personality in a creative and professional way. It should also be optimised for local searches so people find you on Google and other search engines.
5) Build your social presence
Social media is mostly free to use, and you can generate a lot of publicity quickly as long as you know who you are targeting. Reach out to influential users in your area and start building up a conversation on Twitter, and make sure people can check in and leave reviews for you on Facebook. Someone needs to be monitoring your social channels to keep up conversations between your brand and your customers.
6) Sell gift certificates
One easy way to get extra sales from your happiest customers is to offer gift cards for your restaurant. That way, when people say they’re going to recommend their friends visit you, you can encourage them to go one step further and buy their meal in advance.
7) Sponsor local events
To get your name out there, sponsoring a local sports team or a one-off event will help you gain a lot more exposure and interest quickly. This creates a nice sense of familiarity and gets you networking with influencers locally.
8) Loyalty discounts
This is a very easy solution for getting the most out of customers who love your food. Keep them coming back with the promise of getting something for nothing after a certain number of visits.