How Restaurants Can Minimize the Impact of COVID-19
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Regardless of what type of food you serve, the restaurant business always dishes up some fierce competition. Sixty percent of restaurants don’t make it past their first year; 80% past their first five. And while the quality of your food and your service can make a huge difference in whether or not a customer comes back after their first taste, there are other aspects of your restaurant you can improve to help attract diners, both when you open and in the long term.
From the colors you choose for your branding to the signage for your daily specials, the subtle experiences your restaurant offers can be powerful drivers of guests and guest loyalty. Here are six not-so-obvious tips and tricks to attract and entice new customers.
Aesthetic appeal is incredibly important. The visual aspect of your branding goes a long way to motivating customers to give you a try.
There are innumerable decisions involved in coming up with a great brand, but here are a few prominent elements to consider.
A well-selected, simple color palette provides maximum impact. Red is a common choice for restaurant signage and logos. This is tied in to the psychology of color, which suggests that certain colors can be more motivational to the viewer. Red is an active, dynamic color. When used in restaurant branding, it can actually stimulate and enhance appetite.
Logos are a great way to send a message about what to expect from a given business, and restaurant logos are even more likely to be indicative of the company. Restaurant logos that include icons of ingredients or types of food are a surefire way to catch the eye and deliver an indication of the type of menu that can be expected.
Your branding will include a wide variety of materials, including menus, advertisements, and even t-shirts with your logo. It’s definitely recommended to stick to your branding, using colors, font types, and tone in order to make your branding work for you. Consistent branding is one of the best ways to build recognizability with your customers.
Most important, make sure your branding reflects you and speaks to your market. It helps to know the guests you’re trying to bring in. Don’t be afraid to show a little personality!
Accessibility isn’t just a matter of convenience; it’s the law. Avoiding liability under the Americans with Disabilities Act is paramount for restaurants, given the rise in ADA lawsuits over the past few years. (Click this link to learn more about how to avoid ADA liability on your restaurant website.)
One great way to increase the accessibility of your menu is to simply place menus where they can be viewed easily: in front of your restaurant, at seated-eye level for guests in wheelchairs, at the beginning of a service line, so guests with allergies can make informed decisions about their options.
Even aside from guests with disabilities, no guest wants to struggle to understand your menu at a glance. Be sure to make your menu available on your website, as well as keeping your Yelp and Google search pages up to date with information. Some restaurants have seasonal menus, so keep them updated on every channel to keep customers informed.
Consumers tend to gravitate toward businesses they feel they can trust. One of the best ways to entice your customers into coming back is to create and promote a loyalty program. This could be as simple as issuing punch cards or as sophisticated as implementing a multi-venue, multi-channel system for gathering and leveraging guest data, like SevenRooms. The realm of loyalty programs contain countless variations. Feel free to get creative in conceptualizing your program and deciding what to reward your customers with.
The key to any loyalty program is consistency across properties. Try to eliminate the concept of “participating restaurants”; if you roll out a loyalty program, have it apply to all your locations. To customers, consistency feels like simplicity and ease of use—one of the primary reasons it’s so important to be able to recognize your business’s regulars at every touchpoint.
Let your creativity fly with an eye-catching event. While your restaurant may be more than capable of attracting guests on the merits of your food, service, ambiance, and the rest of your experience, it always helps get new people in the door to offer a little bit of novelty or entertainment to go along with it.
Consider any of the following:
Check out these blog posts if you’re looking for events specifically for Christmas, Valentine’s Day, or Halloween.
More and more diners are turning to social media before going out to eat. After all, comments and reviews provide social proof—one of the best indicators of whether a restaurant is worth looking into. Many restaurants are already on board with this trend: 92% of restaurants have an Instagram presence, and 82% have a Facebook page.
Creating and maintaining social media profiles is a valuable use of marketing time. Post pictures of your food, talk about your story, highlight your employees and your loyal customers — the personal touch is what makes all the difference for many within a community.
The purpose of a restaurant website is much the same as the point of a restaurant social media profile: to let everyone know your story, what you’re about, and what they can expect from you.
Keep your restaurant website simple and straightforward. Even aside from ADA concerns (see above) all diners want an easy-to-use experience. Visitors to your site are often there with informational intent. That means they want to learn something as quickly as possible from your website, rather than have an experience on it. Make all the important information readily visible: opening hours, location, reservations link, contact information. Include your menu, as well, and any upcoming event schedules. It’s a good idea to have links leading to and from your social media accounts, to keep your brand as open, friendly, and navigable as possible.
As a final point, invite your clients, whether new or old, to engage with you via the official site or on social media. Again, the personal touch makes all the difference!
With careful attention to branding and signage, dedication to engaging with customers, and the ability to treat your familiar guests like the valued customers they are, word of mouth will definitely spread, and more visitors will come to experience your restaurant.