There’s no perfect recipe for operating a restaurant successfully, but one key ingredient is getting a high volume of customers in the door. Getting creative with a loyalty program can do wonders to boost customer retention, but it doesn’t necessarily attract a lot of new customers and miscellaneous walk-in visitors, which is vital to your restaurant’s health. Here are four ideas, beyond loyalty programs, on how to increase foot traffic in your restaurant.
1. Offer deals
There’s a reason that large brands such as supermarkets and national restaurant chains still mail out coupons and deliver email promotions—because they work. In fact, consumer research suggests that offering a deal or discount makes 80% of people more likely to try a new business. You don’t need to be a national chain to get in on the action.
The key to offering a good deal is knowing your target audience and then experimenting. Certainly, offer a deal with universal appeal, something like a free soft drink, or a buy-one-get-one-free (BOGO) offer, but don’t stop there. Take a close look at your menu and what type of customers you attract. What appeals to them? Come up with a handful of different deals and roll them out over time.
With the SpotOn platform, it’s super easy to do this. Simply create a deal from your SpotOn dashboard, and it will automatically notify customers on your social media channels and the SpotOn consumer app. If you want to broaden your reach, consider running an affordable print ad in your local newspaper, or boosting a social media post on Facebook.
Once you’ve launched several deals, make sure to assess them and see which ones worked and which didn’t. Once again, this is simple with SpotOn. Simply login to your dashboard to see the number of redemptions for each deal. Once you know what deals are successful, you can modify your strategy to get the best return on investment (ROI).
2. Spruce up your restaurant’s appearance & ambiance
Before they ever get to taste your food and experience the service of your staff, a first-time customer is going to see your restaurant—first the exterior and then the waiting area. If what they see isn’t visually appealing, they may very well turn around.
Perform an honest assessment of what your restaurant looks like. Enlist outside help if needed. You don’t need to drop a lot of money on a design consultant. Instead, ask your employees what they think, as well as your customers.
Ensure that your restaurant looks clean. A simple oversight such as placing smelly dumpsters in the line of sight of customers on their way in can scare them away. Likewise, don’t leave pest traps lying around in plain sight.
Beyond keeping things clean looking, get creative to show off your restaurant’s personality. That starts with clear signage, but definitely go beyond that. If you have landscaping space out front, consider an herb garden to get new customers in the mood for eating. If you have blank exterior wall space, consider commissioning a local artist to paint a mural. Not only will it attract foot traffic, you can stick your social media handles at the bottom to get some free advertising when people take photos and post them online. The possibilities are endless, and don’t need to cost a lot of money.
3. Host a party or event
Sometimes people need to be invited to try something new. The easy way to do that is to host a party. After all, you already have a built-in venue and kitchen staff. To make sure your event is successful without being too expensive, go catering-style rather than offering table service. That allows you to limit your menu options and make large batches of everything. Then take the steps needed to make the party enticing beyond just the food offerings.
- Make sure the event is affordable for guests.
- Have live entertainment, whether it’s a local band, DJ, or MC who is hosting games.
- Promote, promote, promote your event well in advance!
4. Stay on top of your reviews
There are a multitude of studies that show negative reviews on sites like Yelp can hurt local businesses, but there is a flip-side. Improving your review ratings can lead to more foot traffic. As we discussed in this article on how to improve your Yelp Score, independent restaurants experience a boost in revenue by 5 to 9 percent when their Yelp score goes up by one full star.
Luckily, the SpotOn platform makes it easy to stay on top of reviews, with real-time alerts whenever a new review is posted. From there, simply following the best-practices in our Yelp article above can lead to better reviews, and more people coming across them online who decide to try your restaurant out.
Not working with SpotOn yet? Learn how SpotOn can equip you with the tools and service your restaurant deserves to reach new heights of success.