It’s time to use every tool in the book, no matter who wrote it or when, in order to increase business, customer counts and profits, while keeping the dining room full.
I recall when I would scoff at the thought of offering a discount to a large group or party for fear the word would get out. Today, if I had a restaurant that was struggling, the discount card would be one of my first defenses.
One of the most important lessons to learn is that nothing succeeds like success. Empty chairs signal the perception of a problem or a distaste from the public in establishments with vacant chairs.
Here are ten tips on filling empty chairs:
1). Offer employee discounts for those employees who come into the restaurant on their days off.
2). Friends and family discounts are also something to consider. These work well if promoted to your immediate staff and they let their families and friends know. The discount doesn’t need to be outrageous- 10 or 15% usually will suffice.
3). Concierge calls to hotels and inns are also a very effective way to increase reservations. Establishing a repoire with the heads of the concierge desk is always a rewarding way to increase customer counts.
4). Frequent dining cards are easy to develop and work well for your locals and regular customers.
5). Neighborhood nights are extremely popular and are usually a successful table filling promotion. Chose a night that is particularly slow- Wednesday comes to mind- and turn it into a “neighborhood night”. The first time I held one I did a spaghetti and meatballs special for $6.95. Now that price should be $9.95 and the salad and wine was extra. Th3e garlic bread was included. Seconds were also included. And the first night I held it, in the middle of January, in
6). Contact clubs, service organizations, and online dating services and promote a party package. Often a reasonable priced party is something companies would consider in an attempt to boost morale.
7). Corporate lunches and events. Although the economy is bleak, companies still must client functions, sales meetings and events that need to be held. Price is often the factor that makes the difference between hosting the event and losing it. Do not be afraid to ask for the potential client’s budget restraints.
8). Invite other restaurant owners to dine in your restaurant – for trade. Nothing is better for publicity than to have a regular customer see a fellow restaurant owner eating in your restaurant.
9). Offer other restaurant owner’s a staff discount card so their staff can enjoy your restaurant. Remember that waiters and waitresses still enjoy eating out and often drown their sorrows at a competing restaurant.
10). Family night. This is perfect for Mondays. Develop a family style meal that can be served out of platters- make it reasonable and have kids under a certain age eat for free.
It may seem scary, but it works, especially in an economy when full dining rooms shout success.