How to ensure restaurant footfall, marketing director advises

Mike Rich
02/11/2017 - 10:10
As household income in the UK continues to fall – 1.4% in the first three months of 2017, 0.3% in the third quarter of 2016 and a 0.4% decline in the last three months of the year - consumers are naturally more cautious on what, and where they spend their hard-earned cash. And with competition in the hospitality sector more rife than ever, operators must work harder to ensure business and stay on top.

Offering his top 10 tips for ensuring footfall, global marketing director at discount company Entertainer, Mike Rich, advises:

Tempt customers in

Not all operators are actively driving loyalty and as such, many are missing a trick. Offers such as buy-one-get-one-free inspire consumers to try new places, dishes and drinks that they otherwise might not have. Acquiring customers is the first step to building loyalty, and temptation is therefore key.

Provide an experience

Brits spend more than £45 a week on restaurants and hotels – the highest in five years – which shows that dining out is becoming a way of life and not just for special occasions. Consumers look for enjoyment in experiences and this is an opportunity for the restaurant sector to step up.

Get the basics right

There are two types of customers for restaurant operators - those who find a place they like and stick to it, and those who like to explore and are always looking for a new experience (normally guided by word-of-mouth and social media referrals.)

In either case, two factors will decide whether they return - the first is a positive experience, from both a hospitable environment and the actual service. The second is the food and drink - quality and taste are paramount – but operators must ensure they talk about it too.

Be relevant

Operators need to gain as much data about consumers as possible - from how they think, what they do and when they do it, to what they like, when to speak to them and what to say. This will enable them to identify and reach their customers, and communicate with them as personally as possible.

Consumers expect a modern experience so operators must adapt to the digital world – offering a loyalty app, for example, or online reservation system that provides a seamless, branded experience. Operators also benefit by knowing how many customers to expect, which will in turn help arrange staff rotas etc.

If not now, then when?

Restrict offers as little as possible - make discounts redeemable as often as possible, on as many days and at as many times of day as an operator can afford. If a customer fails to read the conditions and is disappointed or ends up receiving a bad experience, you can be sure they won’t be back.

Importance of front-of-house

Don’t underestimate front-of-house teams - make sure you have enough staff to deliver a fantastic experience that leaves customers wanting more.

Be ready for your close-up

With the rise of digitalisation, consumers have become tech-savvy and look to their smart phones for answers to just about anything.

If you’re seeing more consumers in for breakfast, focus on your breakfast offer: make your customers talk about it on their social media feeds, recommending it, posting pictures of it and rating you well on search engines. Then market your breakfast to the outside world.

Face the future

Be prepared for what’s coming - virtual reality will become a key part of content strategy, big data will be available faster and bots will be the new normal. As a result, operators will get a better understanding of consumer behaviour and be able to respond with experiences that are more personalised. Websites will move towards personalisation to each visitor, emails will become interactive, and strong imagery will be a must for operators to get ahead of the competition and climb the ranks on Google.

The bigger picture – it’s not just prices

A combination of both incentives and a great experience are what will find a customer and then keep them coming back. Consumers don’t mind paying more if they believe the experience is worth it (45% said they would pay more for a better customer experience), so operators must remember the bigger picture and the complete experience.

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