By David “Rev” Ciancio (republished with permission)
Hospitality Marketing Executive – Brand, Customer & Technology
Evangelist. Inbound Strategies & Brand Marketing Solutions

Opening a new restaurant is super exciting. All that work and planning is now a reality. You’re starting to serve and guests are walking through the door. That’s awesome!

You know what’s also awesome, being busy. That solves a lot of problems, because it’s top line revenue. 

But what happens when that new store sheen wears off or your busy season passes? We all think “what happened?!?!?”

The question to ask is not “what happened” but “what did we not do?” 

There are some foundational marketing moves that should be done even before you open and it’s incredibly common that many restaurants either don’t know, forget or blow it off. Don’t be those people. Be the restaurateur that sets their future business up for success.

Here are 4 foundational marketing moves that will pay off …. and you’ll thank yourself for later. 

1. Listings management 

I’ve been beating this drum since 2013. Why? 

Because I know the importance of new guests to a restaurant and I also know that nearly everyone checks Google, Yelp, Apple Maps, TripAdvisor, Facebook, Instagram, etc before they choose where to dine. “Near me” searches are the bountiful crop of our business.

People also need directions to make a reservation, place an order, see your hours of operation and your menu before they dine with you. You need to claim, update and maintain your business profile on all those sites. That’s listing management.

There is an incredible tool called Marqii that will do this for you. Ask me about it.

2. Reputation Management 

If a guest walked up to you in your store and said “this was great” would you stare them blankly in the face??!? NO! You would say “thank you.”

By the same token, if a guest walked up to you in a store and said they had a problem, you would acknowledge them, apologize and do a win back. Right?!??

When a guest leaves you a review on sites like Google and Yelp, you should do the same. It’s just good customer service.

An even better benefit from getting lots of positive reviews is that you’ll come up higher in “near me” searches. 

Ask your guests for reviews and respond to them. Thats reputation management. 

There is an incredible tool called Ovation that will do this for you. Ask me about it.

3. Email capture. 

The biggest problem we face in this business is guests who only visit once. We spend so much time and effort to get them in that first time and with thin margins, we might barely break even on that first visit. Return trips are the fuel for success. 

One timers are a symptom of unknowns – guests who walk in, have a transaction and leave, without sharing any contact info. 

Restaurants obsess over followers on social media. Most social media platforms only share you content with a tiny fraction of your followers. Content creation is hard and time consuming. You want your guests to have your restaurant top of mind so you stay in the decision set. 

Email them.

Put your message where there eyes are actively looking, email.

A weekly newsletter will do magic for driving repeat trips. And that starts with having your guests’s email. 

How to capture email:

  • Take online orders.
  • Use a reservation system.
  • Offer free gated WiFi.
  • Have an email sign up on your website 
  • Put a link in your bio on social. 
  • Offer a loyalty or rewards program. 

CAPTURE. EMAIL. ADDRESSES.

Check out these affordable and easy to use systems:

4. Do it now. 

Take an hour or two right now, today or at least this week and get these things in order. You’ll regret that you didn’t when the time comes that you aren’t busy. 

I’m not saying that getting the napkins right, training employees, perfecting the recipe or any other operational necessity isn’t important, I’m saying this is just as important if not more important. If you have no guests, none of it matters. 

Need help? Ask me. That’s what I do. I’m a marketer. If you’re an operator, be good at operations. Hire someone internally or externally to handle marketing for you. 

Do it now. 

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If you have any questions, or need help send me an email rev@brandedstrategic.net

– Rev Ciancio


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