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.

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Thursday, 24 April 2014

10 Low Cost Ways To Market Your Café or, Small Restaurant

“Why didn’t you tell us you make Chai Tea?” I said to the coffee shop owner, as nowhere was there a menu. 

Almost affronted, she responded in a hurt tone: “I don’t know how to market my business!” 

I bit my tongue, as little did she know I helped restaurants with their marketing and I could have sat down with her for a long chat. We had just finished another weeks holiday at Pacific Palms and were about to start our journey home.

Her small café was located in amongst a small group of shops, with nice outdoor tables in a covered area, creating shade from the sun and protection from the rain. Her business has the benefit of both local trade and the bulk I suspect from seasonal holiday makers, like us, who just wanted to sit down, enjoy a coffee and read the paper or catch up with friends. Weekends, would be peak trade.

We had been coming here for the last 4 years for our short one week, off season break. This time it was a couple of weeks before Easter, and the town seemed to be filled with retired “baby boomers”, and a few young families with kids on holiday.

What are the simple, low cost things I would do to boost sales and repeat business-

1. Have a selection of daily newspapers on hand for customers to read. Make a deal with the local news agent. Once your customers know you have daily papers available to read they return.

2. Offer free WIFI access. Talk to your local Telco. You can limited access time and create download limits. When travelling and away from home WIFI access is a big attractor to many.

3. Create great external signage, that gets the attention of passing traffic. Also, being in the country, you could put a number of signs, strategically placed on the highway to attract customers to your café. Create specific reasons for customers to visit, other than best coffee, best service as all your competitors also say that.

4. Create “4 Walls Signage” that focuses on making “impulse” or “easy to buy” sales. Don’t put your entire menu on a blackboard at the back of your restaurant, in poor light, which is hard to read. It may suit you, but you are not your customer. Customers, like time to consider their options. The simple goal is doing whatever it takes to make it easy for the customer to buy. Lead with price leaders, not, for example the most expensive breakfast option on the menu. Highlight the daily special.

5. Create easy to read, laminated menus for your everyday offering. You can always add a fresh printed sheet for your daily specials. You can strategically highlight by boxing, or shading on your menu, one or two items encourage customer purchases in a certain direction. Limit this to higher margin items.

6. Create value packages. The goal is to increase the average ticket size. So make it easy for a customer to buy, by creating an incentive for them to purchase more. Eg. Buy the mega breakfast and get a free coffee; Buy a large coffee and save $1 on any cake purchase; Buy a large Coffee and Muffin after 3pm and get the Muffin for 50% off. Taking a reduced margin on the add on sale is better than no add on sale at all.

7. Build alliances with other business owners. Being in a holiday town, it may make sense to work something out with the local real estate agent who is doing all the holiday lettings. When the visitor collects their keys from the agent, they could be handed an envelope with a letter from the agent thanking them for their rental with a couple of thank you gifts. Maybe a voucher for a two for one breakfast, or a free coffee and cake, or whatever. This would work well over the long holiday breaks, with the goal to get the visitor to make the first visit. You could do the same with other business owners. Don’t forget surrounding suburbs.

8. Focus on selling, up selling and additional orders. The key here is to help customers to buy. If they ask for a cappuccino, ask them if that is a large one today? A lot of the time they will say yes, and you have increased the sale size. Talk about the freshly baked scones, or muffins and encourage them to buy. Take time to visit your tables and ask customers if they would like another coffee, or want to try your special dessert. Just by asking you will increase your sales. Use the opportunity, to build connections; to chat and learn more about what your customers are looking for. Don’t assume they know what you have to offer. Encourage the coffee customers to come for breakfast or lunch. Be continually  planting seeds.

9. Make sure you have the product the customer wants to buy, or they know you will make it for them. Have jars of melting moments, chocolate chip, and peanut brownies, and other old favorites available for the quick and easy impulse buy. Baby Boomers and self funded retirees, are generally not afraid to open their wallets, but often only want simple fare, like sandwiches, wraps and salads.  When on holiday, they love to eat out for breakfast and love simple value options. So give them what they value.

10. Always be encouraging repeat business. Getting customers to return again is a simple success factor. The old coffee card is great, particularly for your locals. Short term visitors tend to want to go to different places and try things out. Though, they too can quickly become loyal if you treat them right. Offer a friendly welcome, great service and good coffee, and other incentives to return. They will soon be yours. Think about using simple, bounce back, targeted offers to get them return, or to try breakfast, or lunch if they haven’t tried that before. Knowing your numbers, and selective targeting is the key here. Something, you can do easily in a small Café.

Need help marketing your cafe or restaurant? Want better results? Want more "bums" on seats? Reserve your personal "Rapid Results, Business Growth Breakthrough Session" HERE.

Alistair Gray
Doctor Profit

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