5 Ways to Attract Restaurant Customers
The COVID-19 pandemic has fundamentally changed both restaurant operations and consumer behavior. In March 2020, searches for “restaurant takeout” on Google increased 285 percent, as diners reacted to the closure of dining rooms across the country. Today, amidst varying local regulations around social distancing, and a restaurant industry trying to stay afloat, diners remain unsure of which restaurants in their area are open and accepting orders.
Restaurant owners need to be proactive in generating awareness, appealing to consumer demands, and driving sales in order to remain profitable. Marketing your restaurant is critical for reaching new customers, promoting takeout and delivery sales, and now, in certain parts of the country, in welcoming patrons back for dine-in. Read on for five marketing tips you can use to attract restaurant customers and sustain your business for years to come.
Bring in new diners with these strategies, including using multiple restaurant ordering channels.
1. Create a digital menu.
Your menu is one of the strongest sales tools that you have. It’s how you share with the world what you have to offer, and it’s what your customers use to make their dining decisions. According to MGH, 77 percent of customers will visit your website before deciding to patron your restaurant, and 65 percent said the menu was the biggest factor when deciding to visit a restaurant.
If you don’t have a website, consider getting one that lets your customers browse all of the dishes you have to offer. To give yourself even more of a competitive edge, add online ordering to your website. Not only does this give your menu an online home, but customers can easily submit an order without having to pick up their phone. An added bonus? Online ordering allows you to take multiple orders at once and means less time on the phone for your staff.
2. Maximize your presence on multiple restaurant ordering channels.
To attract restaurant customers, give diners the ability to order from you from a variety of restaurant ordering channels. Restaurant ordering channels include popular websites like Google, Yelp, TripAdvisor, OpenTable, Resy, and Instagram. This is a simple numbers game: the more places customers can place an order, the more likely you are to reach more customers. Just make sure to avoid marketplaces that charge steep commissions, and set yourself up with financially sustainable ordering channels—ideally ones that are commission-free.
Expanding your ordering network also increases the chances that your customers will find you on search engine results. On Google alone, there are more than one billion restaurant searches a month. Additionally, the search term, “restaurants near me” was the most popular “near me” search on the popular search engine from 2014 to 2019, according to Google data. Expanding your online footprint will let hungry diners find you. Enabling ordering from these websites will turn them into your customers.
In addition to taking orders from their website, restaurants that partner with ChowNow can take orders from a variety of restaurant ordering channels across the web, including Google, Yelp, Instagram, TripAdvisor, OpenTable, and Resy. According to our internal data from 2020, restaurants with ChowNow that enabled ordering via Google directly saw an average sales increase of 27 percent.
3. Offer your guests a variety of dining options.
Although dining restrictions due to COVID-19 are starting to ease up across the country, safety remains a concern among restaurant guests. According to a Bluedot survey conducted in April, 53 percent of Americans are downloading more apps to reduce contact with on-site staff. Plus, data released by Captify showed that online searches for “curbside pickup” rose 458 percent from March to June.
Even if you’re open for dine-in, you can attract restaurant customers by allowing them to choose the dining option they’re most comfortable with. To appeal to the widest group of people, try offering the following:
- Online ordering for takeout and delivery
- Curbside pickup
- Online ordering and payment for dine-in
Long after the pandemic has passed, restaurant diners will continue to value the convenience of using digital tech to patronize their favorite restaurants. According to Bluedot, more than 60 percent of Millennials and Gen Z are downloading and using more apps because of the ease of ordering.
Introducing: Curbside Ordering with ChowNow
4. Promote your restaurant on social media.
When looking to attract restaurant customers, you need to think of your target audience, which makes using social media a no-brainer. It’s no secret that people love sharing images of their food – On Instagram alone, the hashtag #food brings up more than 400 million posts. Often when dining at your restaurant or enjoying your food at home, your customers will post about the experience and tag you. This provides you with social proof that people enjoy eating at your restaurant. Engaging with and reposting these images encourages your customers to help you promote your restaurant.
People interested in your restaurant will often look at your social media accounts to see images of your food. Sharing high quality images can entice those browsing your page to follow you or place an order. You can take it one step further by placing paid advertisements. When placing social media ads, you can set a budget you’re comfortable with and reach people who live in your immediate area.
Related: Maximize Your Success on Instagram
5. Offer promotions for first time customers.
Everybody loves a good deal, and research shows that a discount is a powerful way to get customers to try your restaurant. According to Publishers Clearing House, 50 percent of women and 44 percent of men would be willing to try a new restaurant if they received a coupon. Promote your offer on your website and on social media. A report by Sprout Social showed that 38 percent of users follow a brand on social to learn about promotions.
We don’t recommend using marketplaces, such as Grubhub and UberEats, to attract restaurant customers because commissions eat into your profits. However, if you are using them to tap into their audiences, you can also offer a discount to entice diners to order directly from you via your website or mobile app. When fulfilling orders from marketplaces, insert print marketing materials in their to-go bag offering a discount code for diners who order directly with you. This way you show your diners that they can easily order from you – often at a better price – and you avoid paying commissions on repeat orders.
Interested in your very own branded, commission-free online ordering system? Schedule a demo with one of our online ordering specialists today.