Think about the last time you dined in at a restaurant. For some of you, it could have been months ago; for others, it may have been within the last week as the world is beginning to open back up. This could have been a quick business lunch, a date night with your spouse, or a small group gathering with some of your closest friends catching up after lost time via cocktails and delicious food.
Whether lunch or dinner, try and remember everything from the exact moment you walked in the door: How did the restaurant host/hostess greet you? How many menus were on the table when you sat down? What was the temperature of the restaurant—too hot, too cold, just right? Was there a table tent promoting weekly food and drink specials? How quickly did your waiter take your drink order? Was a wine and cocktail list provided? You catch our drift…
The point we are trying to make is that as soon as your restaurant customer enters your door, it’s game on. Every little detail counts. From proper cross-selling tactics such as table tents, to highlighting daily/weekly specials on your restaurant menu, to your staff doing everything they possibly can to ensure a wonderful dining experience.
Setting Your Restaurant Staff Up For Success: Train, Train, Train
While the quality of your food is obviously very important, a huge factor in turning your customer into a returning one comes down to the quality of your restaurant’s service. Did you know that 7 out of 10 U.S. consumers spend more money with a company that delivers great service? You’ve done your job marketing the restaurant to get that customer in the door, now it’s time for the staff to continue marketing your restaurant once they are seated.
Your staff is going to be the deciding factor regarding how much money your restaurant makes on that given day. Multiply that by 365 days in a year and those pennies will quickly add up. A lot of pressure, right? The end goal? More revenue for your restaurant and a healthy bottom line as you eventually round out your year.
From the moment someone is hired, training should be disciplined—it sets the tone for that individual every day going forward. Bad service equals a bad customer experience and we all know what happens next: the impending negative Facebook, Google, or Yelp review.
Our team was recently in the field and interviewed a woman in her 30’s on service. She has a favorite chain restaurant she used to regularly attend until a string of consistently bad service occurred at this establishment.
“We used to go in every week, but now rarely go. Their staff for the last year or so has been awful… super unfriendly, slow service, and overall lackluster. Food has still been good, just not great staff, which we all know is one of the hardest parts!”
The most eye-opening part about this quote is that the food still met her expectations, but the habitual bad service has driven her and her family away. We understand turnover is high within the restaurant industry, but someone, especially in today’s world, always needs a job. So, find the right person, train them properly, and that good service will keep that loyal customer returning frequently and will generate more money for your restaurant’s bottom line.
Make The Most Of Your Restaurant Marketing Collateral
As we mentioned earlier, you’ve done your job through great digital marketing to get your restaurant customer in the door. Now that he or she is in, how are you upselling that customer when they are seated?
Our team recently visited a chain restaurant (we won’t name names) to keep a particular eye out for marketing collateral and cross-selling opportunities so we can observe and make an informed decision for our current restaurant clients. We sat down at a table of 6, so the table was a bit bigger than a normal 4 top. The main menu had appetizers, salads, and main courses. There was an additional menu at one end of the table that had artisan pizzas listed. At the other end of the table was a beer, cocktail, and wine list. So many menus! So many potential missed opportunities for more revenue! The weekly special was not on the table tent. The waiter botched the special upon reciting. You see where we are going. Consider these three in-store marketing tips for restaurants that are key so your restaurant doesn’t make the same mistake:
Table Tents: Less Is More
Keep these simple for your restaurant. A Harvard Business Review article discusses the pros and cons on too many options. In a nutshell, less is more. What are you trying to promote? Don’t list 15 cocktails, 5 appetizers, and your weekly special. If you have a LTO promotion going on, list the few featured food and drink options and call it a day. Do you offer a happy hour or is there a special promotion one day of the week? This is where you promote that.
The whole point of this marketing asset for your restaurant is that it gives your brand the opportunity to entice your customers while they are seated at the table. Turn that once a month customer into a loyal, repeat customer who now comes in twice a month. Have a loyalty program? Here’s a chance for you to sign them up.
You’d be amazed at how many couples (I’m sure you’ve witnessed this yourself) will be on a date night and be glued to their phones. My wife and I have a strict no phone policy on date nights. First thing we usually do after looking at the menu and cocktail list? Check out the table tent. Capitalize on this small marketing asset, and more money will follow.
Food/Drink Pairings on Menu
We understand that your restaurant locations may not print a new menu every day. Most don’t unless it’s an upscale restaurant with fresh new dishes on a daily/weekly basis. As you do produce new menus down the road, are you suggesting drinks paired with certain foods? Doesn’t have to be every menu item, but this is a great opportunity for you to make an extra $6-$12 per ticket.
If you’re a burger restaurant chain, pair your burger special with local craft beer you have on tap. Make this a combo special at a set price or suggest in italics what beer(s) your restaurant staff recommends to pair with it.
If you’re an Italian restaurant chain, do the same thing, but with a glass or bottle of wine. It’s these subtle suggestions that can impact your revenue in a major way year over year.
You’ve wined them, you’ve dined them, now it’s time for that customer to return, and to do so ASAP! If it’s their first time in and they didn’t order a dessert, simply slide a free dessert coupon with the check that is valid for 2 weeks or up to a month. Amazing what a $5 or $7 “free” deal can do to your restaurant customer. If the service and food were up to par, there’s a great chance they will return for more food (and of course that free dessert).
Let’s say they did order dessert. Same notion, just a different avenue of opportunity. Give them a free app or $5 off their next visit. Same timeline, same guidelines, most likely same result.
We as humans are impulsive people. Give them what we’ve discussed through this article and you’ll have them back in no time.
TLDR: Tips Your Restaurant Can Implement ASAP for Increased Check Averages
- Train your wait staff: excellent customer service is as or more important as the quality of the food you serve. 7 out of 10 U.S. consumers spend more money with companies that have exceptional service.
- Market within your restaurant: make the most of your marketing assets at your restaurant location by subtly enticing your customers to spend more money.