If there’s one thing your business always needs more of, it’s customers.
While most restaurants opt for simple advertisements in the local newspaper or online, there are other ways to get the word out about your business.
Word-of-mouth is far and away the best marketing tool you have at your disposal, and most restaurants aren’t using it to its fullest potential.
While it’s not easy to get new customers raving about you to their friends and family, you can leverage your current employees to help get the word out. They are one of your greatest - and often most overlooked - assets in getting more customers to walk through your door.
Set a high customer service standard
One of the most-talked about parts of your business is the experience someone has at your establishment - including your customer service. Whether good or bad, the service provided by your wait staff, front of house and others will impact every customer’s experience. Your employees are your best asset to make sure that once your customers leave, they can’t help but tell their friends what an amazing experience they had.
Make sure every person on your staff (even the kitchen!) are trained on customer service standardsand professionalism in the restaurant. When all team members are clear on expectations and are held to the same standard of service, you can be sure that your customers will leave pleased and give glowing reviews.
Use the power of social media
Social media is an extremely powerful tool for restaurants: from customers checking in to leaving reviews on social web sites, your customers are now able to tell the world about you in a way they never could before. This can be great, given that they have good things to say, and also that you have the time to dedicate to making social media work for you. If you’ve struggled to make it a priority, your employees can be a huge help in driving additional foot traffic by boosting your presence in social media.
Start by assigning a core team to social media, and then empower your team to add daily content: menu specials, happy hours, or responses to questions from your fans. In addition, be sure your team is looking at sites like Yelp and UrbanSpoon to check for reviews. Keeping up with these channels and the conversation happening about your restaurant is a great way to please your existing customers, and also to attract new ones.
Your employees can help generate business.
Start a referral program or contest
Everyone works a little harder when there’s a great reward at the end. When your employees have an incentive to invite new customers in or share more about your restaurant on social media, they’ll be more motivated. Many restaurants offer this in the form of a simple referral program, or a one-time contest.
Some restaurants offer a bonus or special prize to employees who generate the most traffic based on a social media coupon, promotion or other offer. You could also consider empowering employees to hand out discount cards to regular customers, so they can share with their friends.
Host friends and family nights
Using the power of your employee’s connections can help you reach new audiences and get more people in your door. You never know who is connected within your local town, and encouraging employees to invite their friends and other connections to your restaurant - and even offering them deals - can go a long way in fueling word of mouth.
Consider hosting a special friends and family night where your employee’s friends can check out your menu and space. Offering a happy hour or discounted rate for this event will go a long way when people are sharing the experience with others.
Make sure your employees know they’re valued
Your employees are one of your greatest advertising opportunities: if they love to work for you, they’ll tell people. The best thing that you can do as an employer to keep them happy and engaged at their job is to let them know that you value the work they do. Every employee on your staff should feel like their job is as important and as valued as everyone else’s.
These ideas work best when they’re part of a larger customer acquisition strategy, and each one works differently based on your staff’s personalities and your organization’s needs. Next time you’re thinking about where you’ll get additional customers, don’t overlook your amazing employees and how they can help.