Archive for November, 2011

Does Your Restaurant Website Fail to Make the Grade?

November 30, 2011

Let’s face it: the restaurant website is often a bit of a dinosaur when compared to other cutting-edge technology online. Just having a website is not enough these days. You need to make sure that you have all your bases covered when it comes to this key element.

Print vs. Online

You’ve probably seen it before. The phone books pile up outside grocery stores, apartment complexes, and subdivisions. This ancient antiquity will soon be unrecognizable by our children. So why would you spend your money on advertising in phone books, newspapers, and magazines if you don’t even have a respectable website? Make sure that any of your marketing efforts are covered online first. Then if you have more of a marketing budget, you might want to try print.

The good news is that you can gussy up your business online even with a tight pocketbook. If you have to hire someone because you just don’t have the time, it will still only be a fraction of the cost that you would spend on a one inch ad in a phone book or other type of advertising collateral.

A Few Simple Solutions to Make Your Restaurant Website Design Work for You

Are you still operating your website with a static html page? It’s time to make some changes. Try switching to a content management system (CMS) that features sliders of your menu items.

Is your website compatible with smartphones? If it isn’t, you can get an app that will take care of that. Even if you just feature your address and phone number with the app, it’s better than not having a mobile website. In a recent survey conducted by Google, over 89% of people use their smartphones several times per day to conduct commerce and find phone numbers. It’s essential to be able to view your website on a smartphone—otherwise, it’s just on to the next business in the time it takes to click back.

Can your customers sign up for special coupons and offers on your website by email? You’re missing out on a golden business opportunity, especially with the extreme couponing craze happening right now.

What Does Local Marketing for Restaurants Mean to Your Business?

November 28, 2011

There’s no doubt that if you’re in the restaurant industry, you have encountered the drive back to local marketing for restaurants. It could be anything as simple as buying your tomatoes from the farmer down the road to something as big as the recent Occupy Wall Street’s movement to funnel money back to small businesses and communities. The trend of voting with the dollar is the easiest way for the average consumer to have a voice in the economy.

Supporting the Local Market

We’ve seen the grassroots movements start way before any of the “Occupy” business started. Did you know that 93% of people surveyed by American Express’s OPEN survey reported feeling that it was important to support local small businesses and put money back into the community?

When restaurants started to buck the major food suppliers for local farm fresh and organic produce, meat and eggs, they were able to offer healthier and more flavorful products…AND put money back into the local community. It’s also another way patrons can give back to the local community by honoring these small businesses with their loyalty.

How to Support the Local Market

Without a doubt independent, local businesses have the upper hand here, but how can larger restaurants support the local community that they reside in? Sometimes, local is more of an attitude or awareness than a business address or zip code. Here are some of the more popular ways that businesses of any size can get involved:

  • Sponsor local sports teams in the area.
  • Donate food or services for local school events.
  • Ask your supplier if they are using local farmers.
  • If you can make an executive decision on your suppliers, switch to local suppliers that are closer to your community.
  • Offer seasonal specials on the menu of foods that are abundant in your geographical region at that time.

The push toward keeping the money in the community is still in the early stages. Get creative and come up with some things that support your local community. You’ll feel good about it and so will your customers.

Why You Should Insist on Email Marketing for Your Restaurants

November 8, 2011

If a restaurant you own, operate, or own-in-part isn’t using email marketing, then you’re missing out on a lot of money. A lot of easy money.  Let me tell you why – and show you how you can correct this.


Why Email Marketing is Efficient


A 2009 study by the Direct Marketing Association showed that, on average, email marketing returned $43.62 in profit for every dollar spent! We’d challenge you to find a better ROI with any other medium. In fact, according to the DMA, no other medium outclassed email at all – including catalogs and postcards.


One big reason for the high return on investment is that email marketing is quite simply dirt-cheap. Using services like Constant Contact or AWeber, you can manage your prospect list and market to them as often as you want, all for a fraction of the cost of even the cheapest bulk mail.


How to Get Your Guests to Want Your Email


If you’ve spent much time marketing your business at all, you may’ve already guess everyone’s favorite way to get customers on their email list: offer periodic discounts in their inbox, so that they’ll actually want to open every email you send.


For most restaurants, it’s not a good idea to send email with a new special every day. But a printable “e-coupon” sent out once a month or even every week can bring in business that you otherwise wouldn’t have had.


Don’t Forget Your Patrons’ Birthdays


A simple card with every meal that invites your patrons to leave their birthday and email address is often all it takes to get them on your mailing list. Most restaurants offer free birthday dessert on the guest’s birthday, but we recommend a free meal.  Why is that?


That free meal will pay for itself 99% of the time. This is due to the simple fact that hardly anyone eats their birthday dinner alone!


Your birthday boy or girl will be bringing in at least a couple of other patrons; often, they will bring in several. This is a good chance for drink sales, if your establishment offers alcohol. And given the choice between a free dinner at a restaurant you own, versus only a free dessert somewhere else, which do you think your patron will choose?


If you’re a single operator, you can easily implement email marketing strategies for your restaurant. If you’re a stakeholder or board member, you can increase earnings on your investment by urging your establishment to adopt these email marketing procedures.

Don’t Forget the Gift Cards This Season

November 3, 2011

Gift cards are a great way to help any restaurant weather the current recession, and this is the time of year you should start promoting – or at least ordering! – your restaurant’s gift cards.


What Gift Cards Can Do for Your Restaurant


If you don’t currently offer holiday gift cards for your operation, then may we suggest you consider doing so? You’ve probably noticed that every major chain restaurant from Applebee’s to T.G.I. Friday’s to Yardhouse offers gift cards in various denominations. As you might guess, there are some very good reasons for that.


Generally speaking, most gift card recipients will end up spending more than the amount of their gift card at your store. When done right, these cards or coupons are a source of free advertising that virtually guarantees customer draw! You may also want to talk to your accountant about how to write off different kinds of gift item usage as paid promotion, marketing, or advertising costs.


Why Gift Cards are a Nice Holiday Present for Customers, Post-New Year’s Present for You


These kinds of pre-loaded promotional items are a holiday favorite among customers as well. Gift-givers all over the country use them as presents that will always be appreciated and never be awkward.


But they also have a big benefit to you as well. Aside from bringing in new customers, they can help you keep your seats filled during the dreary months of January and February. In fact, it’s often a good idea to put a “Use By” date on your gift cards – in prominent type. This helps encourage patrons to visit your establishment ASAP, which can really help out during the first of the year.


How to Promote Gift Items


Remember the days of McDonald’s Gift Certificates that you could write on and give to your favorite nieces, nephews, and grandchildren? Those days are long gone! The preferred items today are plastic gift cards.


These items are lightweight, more durable, and much easier to keep up with than traditional gift certificates. They can fit in a wallet or purse just like any credit card, but you can buy them thinner and cheaper than credit card material.


Most importantly, they’ll bring people into your restaurant during the post-holiday lull! We highly suggest you start using gift cards or similar “free” food promotions to jump-start your sales before, during, and after the holiday season.


News Snippets

November 1, 2011

This week in restaurant news: Panda Express begins to operate in Mexico, while German-and-American brewery Gordon Biersch offers a new light menu.


Panda Express Enters Mexican Market


Panda Express recently announced that is it teaming up with Mexican franchiser Grupo Gigante to open up Panda Express restaurants in Mexico. The first restaurant was slated to be opened in Mexico City in early September. The company plans to open more restaurants in 2012, with the second location to be a free-standing restaurant.


Grupo Gigante, which will operate and develop the Panda restaurants, is a major player in Mexico’s economy. It has acquired several commercial chains in the company. Both companies cite a shared focus on community support and “people development” as reasons for teaming up together.


Begun in 1973 as the Panda Inn, the company opened its first fast-food location in 1983 as the Panda Express. The private company now has over 1,300 locations in the United States.


“No Clear Leader” in Mexico for Chinese Fast-Casual


Senior Vice President of Panda Express International Bob Lustig cited Mexico’s lack of any clear leader in the Chinese fast-casual category as one reason for moving into the Mexican market. “We have spent the last year developing deep relationships with the Grupo Gigante team, which has set a solid foundation for the success of this venture,” Lustig said.


Gordon Biersch Brewery Offers New Light Menu


Gordon Biersch, an upscale-casual brewery restaurant that specializes in hand-crafted German lagers, recently announced they will be offering a “Lighter Side” menu in all 29 of its locations. The ten “Lighter Side” menu items reflect a range of different food types. Most of them clock in at under 575 calories.


The Gordon Biersch chain offers German beer and American food. It recently added two other new items: The Veggie Burger (a favorite of many health-conscious individuals) and the Lobster Burger (not quite as health-conscious…but it still sounds like a great sandwich!).


Sporting 29 restaurants in 18 states, Gordon Biersch hand-crafts its beer according to the Reinheitsgebot purity law of 1516. It launched the new menu items on August 30, 2011.