Restaurant business tips: How to attract customers and keep them coming

June 3, 2009 by  
Filed under Entrepreneurship

cake-restaurant-pastaAs an ordinary restaurant customer and an enthusiastic business and entrepreneurship analyst, I always formulate things that will improve every business establishments I encounter in my day to day life. And since eating is very basic to humans like me, restaurant seems to be an interesting business establishment to discuss here. I eat everyday and I go to restaurants regularly. In going to those numerous restaurants in the past, I have learned and accumulated some insights that I believe will help restaurants and their owners attract customers and keep these costumers coming back. The following are some good tips for restaurant business owners on how they can attract customers in make these customers returning visitors for life:

1. Make a plan. Make a business, organizational and marketing plan. This is to assure that your restaurant is running the way you wanted it to be and to be directly alerted if something wrong happens so that you can immediately take proper actions to correct everything.

2. Define your customers. What kind of customers do you target? The upper or the lower class? Your products, services, place, price and promotion should follow to that answer.

3. Set your price right. If you target the mass people, then lower your price. On the other hand if you target the upper socialites, then you raise the prices. We are applying here the ability to pay of your wanted customers.

4. Choose the best place. The best place doesn’t really matters if it is far or near. What matter again here is the market you target. People who are adventurers (and those who have nice cars) want a restaurant which is not easily accessible. On the other hand, the mass people will prefer restaurant which are located in downtown. Can you see the psychology?

5. Food quality and assurance. If you want to build credibility and good reputation, then make sure that your products and services are the best in town.

6. Have a great identity. Branding is vital to a business. Create a unique and brain catching name. The design of your logo, billboard and paint of your restaurant should follow. In other words, you need to have a great identity and a perfect theme for your restaurant business. What’s your theme? Mexican? Italian? Exotic? Modern? Cyber? Classic? Choose one or invent your own.

7. Optimize promotion. It means having an efficient and effective promotion but at a lesser cost. There are many ways to promote your business. You can take the advantage of the Internet, text messaging, telemarketing, business flyers and other low cost form of marketing. The goal here is to make the people aware that your restaurant exists and promises great food experiences.

8. Teach your team. Teach your staff and employees. Teamwork shall be preserved inside your organization. Let them involved of your business plans. Create a harmonious relationship inside your restaurant.

9. Be transparent. Be honest to your customers. One great idea is to place nice posters in your restaurants on how the food they eat was served and obtained. Where are those palatable crabs and shrimps came from? Where are those fresh vegetables harvested? What is the name of the farm? Question like these from the curious minds of the customers should be answered. With these, you can also create trust and confidence with your customers.

10. Create lasting relationship. I remember one restaurant I visited for a good and a great dinner. It’s our first time to go there. And because of that, the manager-owner personally accommodated us and served our food. She also told us the story about the place. Because of that, I become one of the marketers of that restaurant, recommending my friends to give the place a try.

11. Gifts and freebies. Why not give your customers some key chains or other low cost give-aways that you can reasonably invest. You can put the name, logo and slogan of your business in that free-stuff. Then let those customers do the marketing by exposing your brand to the people around them.

12. Go online. I recommend making your business a website. To have a website is not as expensive as you imagine. Your website is your online store and presence in the web. You can link this to your social accounts like facebook, myspace or friendster.

13. Dress the best. One thing I criticize on a restaurant is the uniform of the staff. I believe I’m not the only one who is observant of this fashion matter.

14. Educate and demonstrate. I have this idea. If I’m a king in cooking, I will build my own restaurant. And If I have my restaurant, I will conduct seminars to teach people who want to have a shot at my expertise. The goal is to help the community, teach people, build public relations, become known, and make your restaurant a giant one.

15. Follow up. Sometimes, customers are lazy enough to stand out to express their needs and status. The solution? Be proactive.

16. Smile, hello, thank you and goodbye. A simple smile, hello and goodbye creates great relationships between people. I love staffs who smile, say hello, thank you and goodbye. I really hate people in a restaurant who frown and seem not to care on me (I really don’t come back on a restaurant of this kind)

17. Testimonials. If you are claiming that you have the best restaurant in town then do it. Just evidence it by testimonials which came from actual people who have tasted your food and experienced your place. You can publish these testimonials in your website, in you ads or simple in the walls of your restaurant.

18. Mailing and contact list. Why not ask your customers their emails, and get permissions from them to include their emails in your mailing list to send updates? If you can build a mailing list, you can always send to their emails about your new menu, promotions and activities. Just be sure to keep them privately and not to spam them.

19. Customer rights. Let your customers feel that your restaurant exists for them.

20. Cooperate with other industry. If you are in a restaurant business, you can team up and join forces with other industry that are relative to your business but will not compete it. If applicable and will be beneficial to you in terms of marketing and attracting more customers, you can join forces with internet companies, culinary schools, other schools and universities, professional organizations, beverage companies, etcetera.

Comments

37 Responses to “Restaurant business tips: How to attract customers and keep them coming”
  1. Hi Vic,

    How did you know that I have a restaurant now? lol. I do have a new lil restaurant, its only a 4k-5k per month sales with a net profit of 1k-2k per month but I have not made any promotion yet. We are in a transition with the cook, right now its like hell, lol. But my wife its there, she is suffering the lack of system, lol. I am building one right now, so we can get more sales with the new cook that is not very fast and efficient.

    Maybe If I make a system like McDonald´s that even teenager can manage a huge restaurant then I will not suffer anymore, lol.

    Luis

  2. viclogic says:

    Hi Luis,

    Thanks for the dropping here. I never thought you have a restaurant. Lol. I am excited to follow the flow of your restaurant. BTW, if you need some tips and assistance on accounting, financial analysis, etc, just call me buddy.

    BTW, I have a friend who is promoting her restaurant in facebook. Facebook has a potential in promoting business locally.

  3. start waiting tables or working in a kitchen. More then likely you will never manage a restaurant without have experience on the floor and if have never had experience working the floor or in a commercial kitchen then you have no business owning one.

  4. Des Walsh says:

    Great list Victorino. One thing I learned from a highly successful Australian restaurant owner was the value of a complimentary glass of port at the end of the meal. This you could call the surprise bonus treat. I observed over a period of time that people I lunched with there thought it was a treat just for them, because of me: they did not notice that other tables were getting the same special treat, so that raised my stocks as well as those of the restaurant, in the eyes of the people I was with.

    Yesterday we tried a local Chinese restaurant for the first time. The service was very slow and basically incompetent, the food was overall great and we were given a complimentary port (as were, I observed, others). One dish was not well cooked and as soon as we told the owner she instantly offered another dish and whisked away the one that was not well done. Her pleasant manner in the midst of a very busy lunch hour, together with her willingness to solve the problem of the one dish that was not up to par, and the complimentary port on top of an excellent meal made us happy and willing to go back, even though some of her staff did not seem to know which way was up and thought it was ok to promise to bring water, glasses etc and then not do it.

    One trick to the complimentary port treat is to train staff to say “with the compliments of the manager/owner” – so that you embed the idea of “something for free”, which we all like.

    I don't know whether a port would work in the Philippines, but I imagine you could come up with a suitable refreshment, mentioning, as I say, that this is with the compliments etc. Chinese restaurants in Sydney, when I was younger, used to bring cut up oranges as a nice palate refresher.

    And then train staff to keep their promises to patrons. :)

  5. viclogic says:

    Thanks Des,

    I really agree with you. Customers always want to be treated specially. Restaurants are not only business for food, but they are business for services. IMO, The complimentary port will work here in the Philippines, anyone would love a pleasant service with a twist of free stuff. As a surprise bonus, that will result customers having more satisfaction than what they are expected. That will result first time customers becoming returning customers. Thanks again for sharing you experiences. I really appreciate it.

  6. Mal says:

    I'm always thinking of new ways to bring in customers and your list made me think. The competition has increased a lot in recent years and it's harder to get new customers. We did a heavily advertised “price rollback” recently and that generated a lot of business. Thanks for the ideas.

  7. viclogic says:

    Hi there Mal,

    Thanks for visiting. I'm glad you appreciate the list. I salute your mindset for “always thinking of new ways to bring in customers”. An entrepreneur as innovative as you will surely attain success. Bringing your restaurant in the world wide web is a nice move.

  8. What you can do is go down to a restaurant supply place to price out oils… Smart and Final, Cash and Carry or a local place to you.

  9. Hello all, Im a 23 year old guy who is interested in getting into the restaurant business, possibly managing or owning my own restaurant in the near future. I have always been interested in the food/restaurant business.

  10. start waiting tables or working in a kitchen. More then likely you will never manage a restaurant without have experience on the floor and if have never had experience working the floor or in a commercial kitchen then you have no business owning one.

  11. TrafficAssistant says:

    I agree with you. I always tell my clients to get themselves a clear vision to set their sails for the shores of wealth and prosperity.

    More power!

    For those who want tips on how to generate more business & money, you are welcome to visit http://www.mywellofwealth.com/index.php/2009/07… which reveals my secret formula that I promise can help you.

  12. One big problem a lot of restaurants run into is liquor license. It nearly takes a year to get approved for it, so you have to factor that it before you can open your restaurants. Secondly is the location of your restaurant, make sure that its a decent location and that you can easily get some foot traffic.

  13. i think as long as your food is different from the other local restaurants then people will have no problem at least trying your restaurant and telling their friends about it. The best thing about restaurants is the food can speak for it self. Its not like clothes were it depends if its in style or not.

  14. You need to set up a purchasing plan. I suggest you write it down and then enter all the expenses into a microsoft excel file or something that looks professional. A purchasing plan will be a form or paperwork that lists all the money you will need…

  15. what you will need it for, what products and materials you will need to purchase to start your business, and also what those same things will cost you each month and how much you plan to profit each month and year.

  16. Liquor license is a big issue.

    I went to London recently and a lot of the smaller restaurants had a bring your own alcohol policy as they couldn't afford the license. These places were very clean with good service and food but just didn't have the money available.

  17. Nice tips for restaurant business. These tips are really beneficial and getting more customers. Good customer services, reasonable price and relationship are helps to business growth.

  18. pspgo says:

    It amazes me that there are so many food estbalishments with terrible service. Managers must pay more attention to customer training.

  19. Very good article!!!
    To attract customers to your business restaurant and keep them coming back is not so difficult. No matter what kind of customers you have the upper or the lower classes your FOOD QUALITY always will be very appreciated. Your Customers also always want to be treated specially; Smile, say hello, welcome and thanks you.

  20. viclogic says:

    Thank you. Yes, quality is very important. It's what makes customers satisfy and keep returning. A smile and a personal treatment add to that effectiveness.

  21. used tires says:

    It Definitely is all about combining the right mix, and inputs, and once you perfect your formula for your specific restaurant, there is no stopping you from reaching success =D

    Till then,

    Jean

  22. viclogic says:

    I agree with that Jean. Proper mixture of marketing (product, price, place and promotion) is unstoppable. Thanks for dropping by.

  23. used tires says:

    I have a degree in hotel management and am looking to enter the restaurant business in the near future so these tips are definitely going to come in handy, so thank you very much.

    Till then,

    Jean

  24. Tipping is the main thing, and it varies from restaurant to restaurant. The more high-end the restaurant is, the better tips you'll make, obviously. Each place does it differently however,

  25. blowww says:

    What a complete list you got! These points are working pretty well if we really implement them in the restaurant business. I have been in this business for almost 10 years, and I found all of those points worked very well to attract new and loyal customers in order to increase sales.

    Anyway, thanks a lot for sharing with us and refreshing my mind with these tips.

  26. Good & delicious food & good Services always attaract the costomers..it's my personal experience.

    Martin

  27. Nice Information …………….

    Jacob

  28. AliceWonderland42 says:

    Thank you

  29. episode says:

    I guess knowing your clients is pretty important and adjusting accordingly.

  30. There is a lot that goes into a successful restaurant. To me the most important are location, food quality and service. These days, your strongest marketing tactic is making every customer satisfied. If you can't get consistent referral business, you are doomed for failure.

  31. Currently with the economy the way it is and gas prices sky high, our business has been down. just asking how other places are doing. waitstaff and employees also encouraged to answer. i am talking about a mom and pop place. no alcohol. thanks

  32. More then likely you will never manage a restaurant without have experience on the floor and if have never had experience working the floor or in a commercial kitchen then you have no business owning one. thanks..

  33. It is important to have a professional business plan that is detailed and shows how you will become profitable. You can enlist the services of a small business assistance organization.

  34. Car Battery says:

    Another good strategy is to look out for niches in the fusion cuisine scene. A lot of people like fusion cusion for the novelty and if its something they like, they won't get it anywhere else as you are the creator of that particular style of fusion and it will give you a niche market to cater to.

  35. I wouldn't call this a good strategy, unless you are satisfied with sticking to one-time customers. Most fusion restaurants really miss the mark. Instead of sticking to one type of cuisine, they try to combine two cuisines which don't belong together. In the end, the food would be better if you went to a restaurant that strictly focuses on one of those cuisines.

  36. Bad service can be a result of a lot of different things….lousy management, low wages, low tips, lousy working conditions or weak training. A lot comes down to who is hired in the first place.

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