Promote your restaurant business

You want customers to dine in your restaurant, right? And, how do you keep them coming frequently with so many restaurants to choose from?
Menu Lane has prepared a list of great promotion ideas to help you grow your business and win loyal customers.

Loyalty Cards
As an independent restaurant or cafe owner, how can you get customers to return on a regular basis when there are so many branded eateries around from Starbucks to China Luck to Red Dragon? Answer: Reward them. Give them a loyalty card that you print up, and every time they buy a meal, stamp it with your unique stamp. After 6 visits buy them a free drink or dessert. With a full card (10 visits) they can recieve a free entrée when they bring in a guest. Or give them 5% to 10% discount to use until a specific date, say end of the month.

The Star Factor
It’s a tried and true method – to keep your eatery “hot” and popular, invite local celebrities in to dine on the house, take a photo of them with you, have them sign it and display the framed photo on the wall. If someone famous walks in, make sure to keep a camera handy by the register.
Befriend the folks at nearby hotels and ask them who’s in town. Deliver some food to their room (cookies, brownies, whatever) and ask them to leave a signed photo to you that you can put up in your place.

Teach
Whether it’s teaching how to run a restaurant at a local college or having your chef give a cooking demonstration at the restaurant on a night you’re usually slow or closed, teaching is a cheap way to get your name out there. Offer to speak to your local business group and give out menus and business cards and offers for discounted catering.

Host a Benefit
Offer to host a popular charity event in your area or supply some of the food for it if they’ll advertise you as a sponsor in their posters and programs.
Food and other costs can be written off as charity.

Competition Research
Eat at the restaurants run by your competition. You’ll never know where you stand in your market if you don’t keep tabs on the other guy. Knowing their strengths and weaknesses will help you create effective marketing tactics that promote your strengths.

Power of giveaways
Introduce your restaurant to potential customers by offering samples of one of your products. Determine what product you offer that is a good representation of your menu and that is easily transported. Then designate one day a week to take a free sample of your product to a local business in your service area along with menu flyers or in-store coupons.

Catch the early birds
Designate early bird dining hours and give out special identification cards to seniors offering a discount on their bill when they dine during those hours. Have them register with a name and address to get the special card, as that will give you information for building a mailing list for future promotions.

Coupon connection
Give customers a coupon for a free dessert or discount on a meal as they pay their bill. Make the offer good for their next visit to help build repeat business.