8 Ways To Jump-Start Your Restaurant Traffic for 2018

As 2017 comes to a close, it’s time to prep for 2018. And while the thought of 2018 may feel daunting – now is a good time to reflect on 2017 and identify ways in which you can jump-start your restaurant for the new year.

In this article, we take a look at how you can increase restaurant traffic and ring in more sales for the next year.

Reservations

Reservations are key to driving business to a restaurant, they can be important in determining table turn times, and certain platforms such as OpenTable can collect guest information that can help improve customer service. OpenTable and other apps such as Resy also allow restaurant patrons to make reservations at curated lists of restaurants from their mobile devices. Reservations can be key in optimizing the amount of people you can sit, and feed at specific times.

Online Ordering

Looking to increase sales by 30%? Hard to say no to that… GrubHub commissioned a survey and found that restaurants using an online ordering service were able to grow their take-out revenue by an average of 30%. Open up a brand new stream of revenue and make online ordering seamless by integrating it directly with your website and POS. For first time customers, this helps remove all of the barriers that might inhibit them from trying your restaurant for the first time.

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Customer Relationship Management

For a greater impact, turn the influx of new customers during the holidays into “regulars” with Customer Relationship Management (CRM) tools. Everything from recording guest information and preferences to using a loyalty program or gift cards help to build relationships with your guests. This in turn, influences them to dine with you again and helps you better personalize your deals and offerings – win, win!

Discounts

Customers are not just price-savvy shoppers, but price-savvy diners. As discounts and deals dominate the retail landscape, restaurants are starting to take note. While cutting prices on your dishes can sound unappealing, it is important to understand how price plays an important role in the decision-making processes of customers, and how price can have a huge influence on traffic for any time of day.

Data-driven decisions should be the primary factor in choosing when and what to discount. Use happy hours to increase traffic in lulls between high customer and transaction volume, use volume-based discounts to boost sales of poorly performing dishes or drinks, use customer specific discounts to encourage repeat customers and offer incentives to valuable customers, and use combos to upsell your customers.

Loyalty Program

Even the most successful restaurants will reach a point where revenue begins to level off or plateau if the service remains static. To ensure a steady and increasing flow of traffic, you can simply tap into your current customer base. By looking at your CRM data, you can cater your rewards so that your low dollar and high dollar customers are both able to claim rewards that fit their spending habits. This engages more customer groups improves their overall Customer Lifetime Value, and keeps them coming in more frequently.

Social Media

A recent study presumes that 80 percent of U.S. restaurants are utilizing social media for their restaurant, but are your channels driving traffic? When examining the effectiveness of your social channels, before anything else – take a look at how compelling and relevant your content is. User-generated content is the most effective advertising, so be sure to not just encourage followers to share your content but create their own, while tagging your business. Have a little budget? Check out restaurant Instagram influencers, and see how these food personalities are tremendously skilled in making their followers want what they are having.

With social media specific discounts, you can incentivize traffic and gather a following. Be sure to have location and contact information easily accessible on all your channels to make it easy for your customers to find your restaurant.  

Offer Take-Out

Modern dining looks a lot different than it used to. One of the most differentiating aspects is the number of ways customers can receive their food. More restaurant concepts in the coming years will be designed specifically for delivery, automation and mobile ordering, says Euromonitor International. Whether it’s through the drive-thru, on their phone, a walk-in, take-out, or a six month reservation – customers want to choose how they dine. Be the convenient solution for the busy family, single twenty-somethings, and everyone else – by offering take-out. And by outfitting your take-out station with self-service kiosks, you can get customers in and out at rapid speeds.

Update The Look & Feel

One of the more obvious points, but can often be overlooked, is the look and feel of your restaurant. Perception matters. From smell to sight – restaurants need to understand that dining is a full sensory experience. All the senses need to be harmonious, from the lighting to the way the food tastes, it should all make sense together and make sense for your customer base. On Yelp, you can categorize your restaurant into different types of ambiances, and pointing to how important ambiance can be to diners, there is even a Yelp list for ‘Best Ambiance Restaurants’. The look and feel will affect the sentiment of your customers, and ultimately affect your flow of traffic.

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