Restaurant Marketing Report - 7 Secrets To A Full Restaurant

Simple ideas and strategies to put "bums on seats" and fill your restaurant or cafe with paying customers.

We help Restaurant and Cafe Owners to magnetically attract more customers, increase the average customer spend and to put more money in your bank account.

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Thursday, 10 January 2013

5 Marketing and Service Lessons from your local Asian Restaurant

It was hot yesterday and my wife Helen decided she wanted to go to the pictures. She pulled me kicking and screaming away from the office. She just wanted to get cool. So off we go to Burwood; join a queue of about 50 people (this is not my idea of fun). “Les Miserables” is not starting till 7.30pm and it is now about 6pm. Food time.

Out we go into the heat. It is 40C plus.  When you have been in the air con it feels like hitting a furnace. We walk into almost the first restaurant. It is Asian; about 80 seats; no fancy fittings; just simple tables and chairs and hand written signs everywhere. Everything is in Chinese. We are the only Europeans in the place. It is "chockers"; full of people eating their dinner.

Within seconds a table miraculously appears . Next we are handed the English version of the menu and a handwritten specials menu. There is a simple photo book with pictures of each dish (and there are a lot) with a handwritten description and price. There are some lessons here.

The staff are running; the owner a good looking Asian lady is out on the floor directing traffic, moving tables. She is cool and calm and very much in control. I watch as she juggles tables and squeezes more and more people into the restaurant. People are queuing now to get in. I am waiting to be asked if I could let someone sit on my shoulders, it's that busy. This is Tuesday night and most of the European restaurants are empty.

We immediately get a large pot of Chinese tea… complimentary and when we are ready our order is taken. There was no rush and the waitress was helpful despite the organised chaos around us.  The meal comes in about 15/20 minutes.  It is superb.  We look at the dishes around us and know we must come back with friends for more. This place is good.

I come to pay the bill and I literally have to fight my way to the counter; do a waltz with a couple of waiters as things are so tight and the bill is waiting for me. No last minute adding up; they were prepared all ready to go. I pay the bill. Wow, that is refreshing.

The lessons…

Now, I am the first to acknowledge this is not your standard European restaurant; the cultures are different; there is no ambience but the lessons are everywhere…

Four walls marketing – everywhere there is handwritten notices telling the customers about the specials and the dishes … most restaurants simply do not have good signage, do not use their walls inside and out to effectively communicate their offerings. Think about what you can do
Photographs of your dishes – pictures tell a thousand words and having available a photo book of dishes could well boost sales
English menus – French and Italian restaurants often make the mistake of thinking their customers understand what their dishes are when the menu is written in their native language. If your customers don’t understand what they are buying, they buy less. There are more than 160 different cultures living in Australia and we tend to forget that English is often a second language.  In this part of the world many customers may never have had any exposure to European languages and so will struggle with your menu. Be aware of this and cater for it. By catering for different languages and you may well open up a whole different market of customers
Conduct the orchestra - manage your people, customer flows and experience. Have someone to actively manage the process so customers are immediately met and seated; that customers are not left waiting for attention; drinks are poured and orders are taken; tables are cleared promptly; empty tables are not left vacant. Pro-actively manage the game. This means less doing and more managing of the process
Bill ready - watch for the signs when the customer is finished and pro-actively have the account ready for payment. Don’t start adding up the bill when the customer is ready to pay.  This causes delays. Also when you have a rush of customers wanting to settle their accounts at the same time this can make any delays even worse.  Instead pro-actively manage the process and have your bills ready. Your customers will appreciate this and be impressed with your efficiency.

Alistair Gray
Doctor Profit

Saturday, 5 January 2013

007 will never assume anything. Do you?

It is obviously summer time as we yet have another feast of James Bond on Free to Air TV. Personally, I love it; being a James Bond fan of more than 50 years (wow that dates me) I remember well being taken by my dad to watch Sean Connery do his thing.

Last night it was “For Your Eyes Only” with an array of beautiful girls; car chases, ducking bullets; escaping from helicopters, sharks and other underwater challenges in the Mediterranean to some fancy skiing and then impossible climbing in Greece.

Have you noticed how James Bond never assumes he is safe? He always has options. A second way out; a last minute quick thinking always saves the day.

In your marketing how much do you assume?

Do you assume…
Just because you have great food and service your customers want to dine with you when your competitors are also offering the same
Your customers think about you first when deciding where to dine
Customers and the business community know you cater for weddings; business functions and briefings; special events and other occasions
They know you do provide catering services; help with event planning; will operate outside the normal business hours; etc. etc.
Customers know you sell gift cards and other services
You have to discount your services to fill your restaurant
Customers know the special dining packages you offer
All your customers will see your Facebook posts, your emails, your newspaper ads and  other promotional material
You don’t have to regularly communicate with your customers

Marketing your restaurant or any business is not a “one night stand” it is a continuous program of education using multiple media and channels to get your message through. 

This means constantly reminding them…
That you exist
The reasons why they should dine with you
The services you offer
That you care about them and your community
That you offer great food, great service and great value

Of course, one simple way to do this is with the Restaurant Sales Builder Program. To find out more call me 1300 654 252 or email me at

Alistair Gray
Doctor Profit