Restaurant marketing is not about handing out coupons or writing scripts for radio advertisements. It is about ensuring the continued patronage and loyalty of your guests — bringing them in, keeping them happy, and turning them into word-of-mouth ambassadors. This is the essence of marketing. Nearly everything you do on a daily basis should revolve around this purpose. In that context... a 50% investment of time seems minimal!
Beginning with a new mindset. Create a daily marketing discipline. Incorporate some of the following activities, and you'll begin to see results.
Mayor of the village
Customers love it when the boss oversees their dining experience. Greeting guests, visiting tables, overseeing the "flow" and welcoming first time visitors should be top priority in every shift. It must not be left to an inexperienced hostess, or even an experienced one. It is the manager's responsibility, period.
Managing the sequence of service
The Sequence of Service breaks down the entire guest dining experience into connected steps, beginning the moment the guest pulls into the parking lot and ending the moment they walk out the door. It's your job to ensure that the Sequence of Service is being executed properly by the service team. Every contact with the guest should be a positive one.
A portion of the daily marketing discipline should be dedicated to guest frequency programs — the easiest and most cost-effective marketing. Spend ten minutes personally signing and addressing birthday and anniversary invitations to people from your guest database. Visit one or two surrounding business with a Business-To-Business Blitz — introduce yourself, deliver a menu, and invite them to dine with you. Using the white board system, personally welcome first time guests, offer them your business card and a complimentary dessert or appetizer. These simple marketing programs are guaranteed to boost sales and guest loyalty. And, If you have the right personality for your job, it should be fun too.
When it comes to promoting your restaurant, the most effective external marketing happens right in your own back yard. Look for ways to be involved in local activities or grassroots organizations and get some press in the local media. This will help create brand awareness and keep your restaurant top-of-mind.
Memorialize your marketing
Keep a journal or log of each day's marketing activities. Look back at the end of each month and analyze the time you spent. Did you dedicate 50% of your time? Did it make an impact on sales? Not only will this help to validate your efforts, but you'll have a record of which marketing programs have been most and least successful for you. We've created a simple Manager's Marketing Log that you can print, three-hole punch, and start using today.
The hardest part of starting a marketing discipline such as this is just getting started. But I guarantee that if you make it a priority, you will see results within 30 days.