Have a calendar of events to tell people what’s going on in your restaurant. Include everything from live music to the night when kids eat free. Include happy hours and special event celebrations, such as a prime rib dinner for two for New Year’s Eve. Put the calendar wherever it’s appropriate in your restaurant: on the tables, in your menu, on the walls, etc. But please make sure to keep it current. Replace those calendars on the first of the month without fail.
Put a fishbowl up front to collect business cards for a free lunch. Do a drawing for one winner a day for something small. Let your frequent diners win something. They won’t want to eat their free meal alone, so they’ll be sure to bring their friends. Or go bigger and pull a card a week for a happy hour for 10 of their closest friends. Include a set number of drinks and appetizers. They’ll have so much fun; they’ll stick around and spend more money. Then post who won and bring attention to the fact that your frequent customers are rewarded.
Try a bounce-back, something that encourages people to come back to earn their reward. This is like a frequent diner card. Give customers a card and once they get 10 punches, they get a free meal, appetizer, something. But make sure it matches what they’ve been spending. If you punch the card for sandwiches, reward them with a free sandwich, not a free drink or bag of chips.
In full-service restaurants, give them a bounce-back coupon with their checks to drive other parts of the business. For example, for lunch customers, you could give a $1 off a breakfast order. Whatever your bounce-back is, make it worthwhile. Give them a reason to come back.
Marketing within your four walls to the people who are in your store is a great use of your money.
By David Scott Peters