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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Monday, 19 May 2014

Restaurant Owners - Don't make this classic mistake!

How good is your customer inquiry system?

I remember doing a targeted direct mail for a large restaurant one Christmas. It was sent to only businesses who had more than 20 employees. We were targeting large group bookings of 50 to 100 at a time, so each telephone response was worth on average more than $4,000 in potential sales. 

There was something like 6 responses, but only 1 sale. The number of responses was quite good, bearing in mind the timing of the promotion, and the quality of an unproven list. The sales conversion rate, however, was very poor.

Yes, we had failed. I had done my job in generating the leads. Not bad in a single mailing where in normal circumstances I would have run a 3 step campaign and doubled, if not tripled that number, but time had run out. Where, I had failed, was in assuming the restaurateur had the systems and processes in place to be able to convert the sales leads to “bums on seats”. He clearly didn’t. 

This begs a wider question... 

When your phone rings, or if you have other interactions via your web site, or other contact points do you have a-
·         Process for managing inquires?
·         System to collect customer information, whether they book or not?
·         System to automatically follow up each inquiry?
·         Questioning process to drill down and understand your customer needs, and make them feel important?
·         Promotional package and collateral to give them with menus, options and suggestions for holding a successful function?
·         Way of adding value so your prospective customer feels you are the only place to hold their event?
·         A system for measuring the metrics, i.e. How many inquiries do you get? How many book straight away? How many inquiries do you miss? How many do you follow up and get the booking? Etc.

Do you find out-
·         How they heard about you?
·         Have they dined at your restaurant before?
·         Why, or why they didn't book with you?
·         Any other relevant information that helps you understand the potential customer better, and enable you to segment these type of inquires in your database so you can contact them again about other events and functions?

Yes, this one simple touch point can make or break your business.

Now would be a good time to audit your inquiry process and understand what is actually happening? If you measure and know what your conversion rate on inquiries is you can work out how to improve it.

May be even asked someone to do a mystery shopper for you and get them to give you some feedback. Or, get a coach. Don't make the mistake I did of assuming all is well... It probably is not.

Alistair Gray