by Ian J

July 13, 2021

Attracting customers and increasing sales can be a difficult job. With all the other aspects and challenges of running a business, it can feel like there is little time left to focus on growing the business. In this article, we explain some simple and effective methods you can do to attract restaurant customers without breaking the bank.

Be Active On Social Media

It’s no secret that people love social media. It is essential in today's busy world to stay active across Facebook, Twitter and Instagram (Among other platforms if possible). This will keep your business relevant in the minds of your customers and potential customers. Provide regular posts on

  • The dish of the day
  • Upcoming events and promotions
  • Relevant news about our business such as menu changes, new events and even interior renovations.

All of these help customers feel ‘in the loop’ which helps to build relationships with your customers.

Ensure Your Website Is Clear

When people are looking for key information about your restaurant, your website is likely the first place they will check. Make sure your website is mobile friendly and displays your opening hours.

Your website does not need to be complex but should include the following:

  • Upcoming events and promotions
  • An online food and drink menu
  • How to book a table
  • Customer reviews
  • Directions to the restaurant or the full address.
  • Contact details for bookings and general enquiries.

Brand Your Venue For Customer Photos

Customers love to take pictures, it could be a selfie, a picture of themselves with their friends and even their food and drinks. This means that there is a perfect opportunity to take advantage of this social exposure by placing subtle hints of your business and branding so that your customers can capture and share them. Some simple solutions may include:

  • Brand your entrance so that people want to show people were they are
  • Create a custom menu with your logo
  • Have branded coffee cups or glassware
  • Set your tables using a table colour scheme
  • Create a selfie corner or wall that people want to take their picture next to and post online

Create a Selfie Corner

Photos are a great example of social proof, where your customers actively promote your business to their peers and friends. And when people see someone else at your restaurant, bar or café, it could be enough to persuade them to visit for a meal or drink themselves.

Provide WiFi To Customers

Even when dedicating an evening to a meal in good company, people still want to use their phones and have access to the internet. You could offer WiFi to customers exclusively by printing the code on a leaflet for each table.

Providing free internet could also be a great way of building up a mailing list. If you set up your internet in the correct way, you can require each user to sign up for an account before they receive full access.

Offer Discounts And Special Offers

Giving out discounts and designing special offers is a common way of getting more restaurant customers. These can be done by using dedicated online voucher services like Groupon or by running your own in-house program. These could include:

  • Drink specials and happy hour specials
  • Discounted meals on specific days of the week
  • Have food and drink packages for lunch or slow service periods

However, discounts and promotions will attract a range of customers from bargain hunters to loyal customers, so chose appropriate promotions and days that encourage customers on slower days to fil seats.

A way to encourage customers to return is to give coupons to customers after they’ve paid for their meal. Try to make these coupons say something like ‘Thanks For Visiting’ or ‘Thanks For Eating With Us ‘ - This will add an exclusive feel to the discount. These coupons could also offer better savings for encouraging people to dine on specific (slower traffic) days, which can greatly help to build customer loyalty.

Encourage Customers to Leave Online Reviews

online review quote

Online reviews are an effective way to attract new customers as well as boost your businesses local rankings which will increase your business being found online by customers.

After each customer's visit, it is important to encourage customers who have enjoyed their experience to leave positive reviews online. Your team can do this by

  • asking customers if the customer enjoyed their visit
  • encouraging them to leave an online review
  • Providing the customer with a QR code link to a relevant site like top table, Facebook or Google.

A large portion of potential visitors will check the reputation of your restaurant online, to ensure everything is well before heading for a meal.

Provide Entertainment

From showing popular football games on a big screen to live music, offering entertainment at your venue is a great way to encourage customers to visit which leads to increased sales. The type of entertainment you provide will often be dependent on the style and theme of your venue and your budget.

  • Provide a help-yourself bookshelf or board games
  • Create a local tipping competition
  • Host local community groups meeting and events
  • Hold a trivia night
  • Provide a food and drink themed events (i.e. taco Tuesdays or a wine flight degustation menu)

It is essential to ensure that the type of entertainment you provide is appropriate for your venue and to monitor the cost and return on investment (ROI), as this will help you decide whether to repeat it in the future.

How To Get More Restaurant Customers

So there we go our article on ‘How to get more restaurant customers. Growing your business slowly over time and offering an amazing overall experience is the most cost-effective method you should look to utilise.

It’s not about making major and costly changes, instead, it is about the small tweaks that will have the most impact on your restaurant moving forward.

On the other hand, if you are in a hurry to increase sales and need quick wins, consider investing in effective online advertising and entertainment. While these promotional methods can be costly, as long as you closely monitor your returns this will enable you to make better decisions on what to repeat, or what not to, in the future.

About the author 

Ian J

I have been involved in Learning & Development for over 15 years in Australia, and the UK. Having worked with a range of public and private business in both private and public sector. I have seen a lot of what works and also a lot of what doesn't.

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