The turmoil the economy is causing with local, struggling restaurants is almost insurmountable for those of us who have little cushion financially or no other income to rely on as we bob and weave in an attempt to keep all of the balls in the air.
That’s the bad news. The good news is that everyone is in the same boat and we all have to face the reality that the current economy is not going to change overnight.
We all know there are numerous tricks and maneuvers that we can resort to in order to keep the doors open, but in the long run, everything will catch up with us, especially if our realization there is a lack of cash flow doesn’t dawn on us in time.
In previous posts I have touched on the economy and the recession and cannot stress enough the fact we cannot sit by and wait for something to happen to bring customers into the front door. Although the lack of cash ruins motivation and distracts even the most focused operator, it is imperative to keep your eye on the ball and make sure that you are working smarter – not harder – in an attempt to survive the economic downturn.
Here are Ten Tips on promotion that may help you attract a local clientele.
1). Advertise your specials on the Internet. Remember the email list you were compiling? Now is the time to use it. If you are not sending out a weekly or monthly email blast, begin to formulate one immediately.
2). Grass roots word of mouth is imperative. Just last week a colleague asked if I had any new marketing ideas for a product he was launching. “How about word of mouth/”, was my reply. Get your customers to tell their friends how great your product is. It works.
3). Pre shift meetings. Often when things slow down business begins to erode through lack of enthusiasm. When that happens, you need to boost morale. Make sure that in your DAILY pre shift meetings you cheerlead your staff. Discuss great service, attitude, and personality. In slow times service reigns.
4). Consider a direct mail piece highlighting your “neighborhood night”
5). Oh, you don’t have a neighborhood night? You need to have one. Offer neighbors a discount, a bounce-back on another visit, a complimentary meal when four people dine together…
6). You are going to suffer from staff defection. Do not put a sign in the window for an open position.
7). Joe Rombi, the recent topic of a New York Times’ story has for a decade offered diners a complimentary Brushetta before they order. It is a welcome tasting on the table and customers do mention the complimentary generosity. Create something – a signature- that the chef can send out to welcome the guests. Word will spread and the advertising costs nothing.
8). Stage an event with other restaurants in your neighborhood. Think about swapping customer lists. Get four or five restaurant owners together and discuss the possibility of offering a frequent diner card for the small just created group. Figure out a combination of dinners that are available at each restaurant and promote the night as a group to entice locals to try various spots.
9). Have a family night. Kids are not a major attraction in most restaurants. Yet, in slow times, more mouths translate into more dollars. Welcome kids one night a week with a promotion that allows them to eat for either a discount or as a complimentary guest.
10). As strange as it may seem, now is the perfect time to buy another restaurant. Prices are down owners are tired and if you have an idea for a multi unit group and a little cash, times are perfect for culinary acquisitions. Don’t hesitate to ask the owner of the place you have always dreamed of owning. The dream may come true….for both of you.