Starting out in the restaurant business is challenging and maintaining a successful restaurant is even more difficult. There are a few common mistakes that many restaurant owners, managers and marketers make. Yet these mistakes are avoidable with the right marketing strategy.
1.) Not addressing negative reviews from customers
Negative reviews are often devastating for a restaurant if they are not handled properly. Think about searching for a restaurant online. One restaurant stands out with four glowing positive reviews. The fifth review, however, is dire: the restaurant was dirty, the wait staff was unprofessional and rude, the food was overpriced and the salad was wilted. Which review is likely to stick in your mind and influence your decision most?
Social media is a great place to highlight positive reviews and it is also an excellent place to address negative reviews. If you respond to a negative review in a helpful, professional manner that goes above and beyond the norm of great customer service, your message may go viral. Visitors will appreciate your honesty and determination to make the situation better. They will share, like and comment on your message. Now that's great free marketing! Likewise, if you get angry and try to defend your restaurant your response is likely to bring in lots of publicity but not the kind you want.
Here is how to deal with a bad restaurant review professionally:
- Be prompt! The longer you wait to respond, the more times the negative review is being shared and viewed by other potential customers. Show that you are on the ball.
- Apologize. First and foremost, you want to show that you are sorry the customer had a poor experience.
- Accept responsibility. Do not try to make excuses for why the situation happened as it did.
- Address the issue. What caused the problem? What concrete steps are you doing (or have you already done) to fix it? How will you ensure that it doesn't happen again?
- Offer to make it better. This is the most effective way of getting customers to come back and give your restaurant another try. I once had a terrible experience at a local restaurant and I sent them a detailed message on Facebook. Within half an hour, they had responded to let me know that they had a $50 gift card waiting for me the next time I came in. I went back and had a much better experience the second time around.
Social media is also ideal for sharing positive reviews. Use automated social media management to make the most of your time and marketing budget. Create a series of automated messages that go out every day to keep your pages up to date. Include a highlighted positive review every day or every few days in your automated stream. This keeps the positive messages consistent and frees up your time to deal with the negative reviews.
2.) Not building and maintaining a unique and consistent brand
There are so many restaurants out there that often your marketing gets lost in the crowd. It is essential to focus on what makes your restaurant unique. If you were a customer, why would you want to visit? Don't try to appeal to everyone. Pick a specific target group instead and focus on your own restaurant strengths.
If you're just starting out, research your area to learn about customer demographics. Find out if the area is mostly single people or families. Find out how much the average annual salary is. Research other restaurants in your area and find out what you can offer that no one else is providing.
Once you create an identity and a brand for your restaurant, it's time to build that brand. Positive brand recognition contributes to customer loyalty and draws new customers in as well. Promote your brand through social media, traditional advertising, newsletters to your customers, contests and so on.
3.) Not building loyalty and keeping customers coming back
Now that digital tracking is so prevalent and so much customer information is available, you need to be taking advantage of it. An automated marketing solution enables you to track customers from the first time they hit your website or enter your restaurant. This lets you gather information on their interests and preferences. Having detailed customer information helps you do personally targeted marketing, which is much more effective and generates more revenue than mass marketing.
Provide signup form on your website and social media pages so customers can easily sign up for your messages. A comprehensive automated marketing solution captures data about each customer and uses it to send out automated messages. Use these messages to consistently bring in more business! Send out weekly restaurant specials, restaurant event invitations, coupons and discounts, birthday and anniversary specials to each customer and more.
Try automated restaurant online marketing for free
Sign up for a free 14 day trial of automated marketing for your restaurant to see how you can create efficiencies and reach your customers more effectively. Our team will be happy to give you a free demo of our marketing automation solution and answer your questions. Automated marketing is simple, quick and makes the most of your budget.