The Best Restaurant Marketing In the World.
By Jose L Riesco
Friday, 23rd October 2009
Restaurant owners and managers often spend quite a lot of money in marketing, trying to bring new customers to their restaurant with mixed results.

However, that obsession with bringing new customers often diverts the attention from their core business.

Let's face it; before you start spending hundreds (or thousands) of dollars a month trying to bring new customers to your restaurant, you should focus on your core competences, making sure that you can deliver an excellent dining experience to your clients.

Restaurants should show their commitment to excellence in four basic parameters:
  • Quality of their food
  • Excellence of their service
  • Cleanliness of their place
  • Agreeable, beautiful, unique, and/or attractive ambience
If you can't deliver in all these categories, then perhaps you can still bring new customers to your restaurant using smart and targeted marketing. However, many of these people won't come back to eat at your place, so you will have to keep on investing over and over in new marketing vehicles to always attract new customers.

Instead, try to take a hard look at your current offering. Do you deliver great food with excellent customer service in a clean and attractive place? If so, great, you are ready now to promote your business.

However, if you think that you are missing in one or more of the four categories, you should focus your energies on improving them.

These are some basic things you can do to improve your core business:
  • Changing or simplifying your menus. Sometimes less is more and your kitchen staff can focus all their energies on your signature dishes and your servers will know better the menus. If your cooks can deliver great quality food, then it's time to hire new more skilled cooks.
  • Training your staff by switching all the emphases to customer service and satisfaction. Setup clear guidelines about how to deal with unhappy clients.
  • Making sure that your restaurant is spotless. There is not excuse for less than a clean place where people go to eat. If your place is not clean enough, change your cleaning service (if you hire one), or ask your in-house people to clean better and review thoroughly after they clean to make sure that the place is spotless.
  • Creating a nice ambiance. Sometimes, a fresh coat of paint and some accessories is all you need to give your place a fresh and pleasant look.
But the most important aspect of all, is a total commitment from the management to deliver to your clients a great dining experience. This is what separates the great restaurants from the mediocre ones.

I encourage you now to go to the main restaurant review sites (yelp.com, citysearch.com metaflavor.com, menusnearu.com, etc.) and read the reviews that people wrote about your restaurant.

Sometimes this is a revelation because as the proud owner, you think that everything is fine with your place, and then you read some nasty reviews from disgruntled customers. I know that these reviews are hard to swallow but you must think about these reviews as a great opportunity for you to know your weak spots and improve your business.

Do they mainly complain about your food? Your service? Do you have tables that people really don't like (perhaps no very well located…)?

These should be clues for you about what are your restaurant's weaknesses and try to improve upon them.

Many times, the problems are related to consistency. A great review from one day becomes a horrible review the next because the dish was wrong, or the service poor. This is also a clue that you must set up processes that everybody should follow to make sure that things work as expected.

Of course, all the processes and safeguards in the world won't assure you that mistakes won't be made; after all, the restaurant business is a people's business and people will make mistakes, count on it. So, what can you do to make your clients happy? You should make sure that people are adequately compensated for any wrongdoing that spoils their dining experience.

Having a compensation plan for your clients is the best marketing strategy that you can implement in your restaurant. After all, happy clients will write enthusiastic reviews about your place. These glowing reviews will be read by many prospects in the many restaurant review sites, and they will bring you many more happy clients.

Also, once you have solid systems in place to assure your customer's satisfaction, you can implement a formalized restaurant referral systems to bring back over and over your increasingly happy crowd.

If you focus on your core business and you always exceed your customers' expectations, you won't have to worry about marketing anymore.

Your clients will become your best marketing and sales force. Their testimonials will have ten times more credibility and power than any fancy advertisement or marketing campaign that your restaurant can run.

Happy meals,
Jose L Riesco

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