Your goal is to attract new customers and then keep them coming back. Introduce yourself to the neighbourhood with an event such as a Taste Test night, where patrons can sample your menu for a low fixed amount. Once you are established, lure regular diners and new customers with special theme nights, such as Two for One Tuesdays, and encourage large groups with fixed price menus such as banquets.
You can’t count on customers to consistently order the most expensive dish on the menu. Try boosting revenue by offering a tempting range of extras, such as breads and salads to build up the bill. Offer a comprehensive range of entrées, so light eaters have an alternative to a substantial main course.
You don’t need to spend a fortune on expensive advertising in order to promote your restaurant. Start with a simple website, clearly presenting your address and your menu, along with some photos to highlight the ambience of your restaurant. Facebook and Twitter, the latest popular marketing tools, are useful for inspiring amateur reviews and feedback although they won’t draw in a great deal of new business. A regular email newsletter will encourage regular customers to visit again and again when they hear about your latest dishes and special offers.
Always donate gift vouchers to local fundraising efforts as this promotes your restaurant’s name throughout the community as well as encouraging someone else to sample your menu. For some extra attention, consider attempting to break a Guinness world record or cooking something outrageous, and send a press release to your local newspaper, to encourage media interest. One Sydney restaurant received extensive press coverage for creating the $120 bacon and egg roll – available on the menu for one week only!
Remember, the most cost-effective and influential marketing tool is word of mouth. Employ courteous, experienced and efficient staff so your customers have a pleasant and enjoyable meal. Address any complaints immediately and directly, offering some tangible compensation such as an extra dessert or a bottle of wine. The unpleasant incident will still be passed along by word-of-mouth, but your pleasant and professional response will be part of the story.
Buy fresh, high quality food. You cannot economise on quality, although you can investigate the cheapest places to find the best ingredients. Arrange your weekly menu to avoid wastage – set up fixed menus so you can predict what large parties will order, and elaborate meals can be a weekly special rather than on the main menu. Establish a staple list of ingredients, so you know what you need week to week.
Keep a record of your orders, so you know which dishes are the most popular. This not only helps you keep track of your shopping, it can help you decide how to adjust your menu for your target customers. If one of your weekly specials becomes wildly popular, you could promote it to the daily menu!