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Burlingame Restaurants: How to Draw in Customers During Slow Times

Stay connect with your customers through a variety of social media tools.

Foursquare, Facebook page postings and generating QR codes enables you to offer incentives for your customers, reward them for their loyalty and keeps you connected to your customers for ongoing relationship building and continued patronage of your restaurant.

At dinnertime, Burlingame restaurant owners have been noticing a decline of foot traffic into their restaurants and wonder how they can get the local patrons to stop in during the "slow" times. 

Remember that people buy from those they know, like and trust. During your active times at the restaurant is the best time to engage with your customers and create a way for them to know, like and trust you, as well as inform them of a reason to stop by for dinner or happy hour.

Relationship building tips:

  • Greet them, ask them how their day is going and thank them for coming in - show them you are happy to see them, especially if they are a regular. 
  • As you greet them, ask them if they checked in with Foursquare or liked your Facebook page. 
  • Tell them why they would want to: incentives, specials, freebies, discounts! 

People love discounts, freebies and acknowledgment for their loyalty towards a restaurant! Saying all this only takes a few minutes while you take their drink order. As you walk away, they most likely will be checking in on Foursquare and/or liking your Facebook Ppge.  Make sure you make it easy for them to like your Facebook page by having it posted on your menus, drink menus, specials and the special board.

If you haven’t done so already, create your Facebook page and claim your listing on Foursquare:

  1. Create a Facebook page (it's free)
  2. Claim your listing on Foursquare (You need an account first, then look to see if your restaurant is listed. If so, "claim it," if not, create a venue. After that, add specials (only two at at time) - this will work for current customers and bring in new customers.

Examples for posting to your Facebook wall: 

  • Post photos of your breakfast, lunch, dinner and desserts on your Facebook wall.
  • Post breakfast photo during morning times, lunch specials around 11 a.m., happy hour around 3 p.m. and dinner around 5 p.m.  
  • Engage your fans and ask "What do you prefer, this or that," using photos.
  • Create a mini video under two minutes telling them the specials for the day and offer a special if they mention the video to your wait staff when coming in at dinner time.
  • Create a poll asking customers questions so you make the menu interesting, add new specials to happy hour or bring in something different -- anything to learn what your customers want from you.

Finally, when your customers are paying the bill, ask them how they liked the meal; ask them what they would like to see differently at your restaurant (a special wine brand, dessert or meal) so you can meet their expectations.

  • Then, ask them to be a fan on your Facebook page and encourage a post on your wall – offer to take a photo with their phone so they can post to your wall.
  • Ask them to use Foursquare to check in so they can leverage the specials, rewarding them for their loyalty and happy hour deals.
  • Add the QR code to your receipt, or somewhere on the table or menu. 

Here are other ideas you can implement:

  • Ask customers to like your Facebook page and offer incentive for their like, such as offering a complimentary dessert or glass of wine.
  • Offer happy hour prices on meals that are normally higher priced and tell them about the specials as they pay their bill, so they remember to come in next time.
  • Take advantage of the QR code generator. Add the QR code to the menu or special--anywhere they can see it--so you grow your newsletter list or mobile texting list.

You can use your email newsletter or mobile texting tools during the slow times. Offer special incentives not normally tweeted or posted on Foursquare or Facebook page (ex: the next 20 people will get a free appetizer if they come in between 4 and 7 p.m. or half off our entrees if you come in between 4 and 7 p.m.).

It takes time to establish relationships and rapport with customers.  See them as potential friends, and treat your regulars like old friends.

Dining in your restaurant is an experience based on how patrons feel once they step foot into your place, how they are treated, how their complaints are managed, how the food tastes and how flexible your chef is. Your chef should have an attitude of “customer wants and needs first” and quality of food second, so your chef needs to leave his/her ego at the door.  It’s always about the customers. Listening to their complaints helps you understand what is important to them and is what will bring them back to give you another chance. 

Lastly, you can manage your social media activities using Hootsuite.

Add your twitter, Facebook page and Foursquare accounts, then you can schedule tweets meant for your fans and posts meant for Foursquare. Over time, as people like your Facebook page and as people follow you on Foursquare, you will begin to create connections with people, fostering relationships and learning what they like and expect from you. Creating specials for them will be fun, and you will be known as a personable, generous restaurant owner who cares about his customers.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Davicillio September 03, 2011 at 11:14 PM
You have very good input. It's just what I needed to know.

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