Running a restaurant is a lot of work. In addition to the day-to-day operations, you also have to plan for the future, market your business, and deal with the ups and downs of the industry. It’s no wonder that many restaurants struggle to stay afloat.
One of the biggest challenges restaurants face is the ebb and flow of the business. During the busy season, you have to be prepared for a rush of customers. But during the slow season, you have to find ways to keep your doors open. This can be a tricky balance to strike! But that’s where digital marketing comes in.
Digital marketing can be a great way to bring in customers during the slow season. Using social media, email marketing, and other online tools can be a great way to reach a wider audience. And it’s not just for slow times–during the busy season, you can use these same tools to keep your customers informed about specials, events, and other news.
But digital marketing is just one of the many things to keep in focus as you grow your restaurant business. Long-term goal planning is also essential for any restaurant owner. You need to set goals for where you want your business to be in the future, then put a plan in place to make those goals a reality. This can be anything from expanding your menu to opening a second location; what matters is that you’re working toward them.
Need a little help getting started? Here are a few tips from industry professionals to get your on the way to success:
“Cooking is not a craft to get into for money. The money may come, or it may not. But you must get into it for the craft and the culture.” – Roy Choi
You need more than just the thought of “I want to make money.” Define your concept and target market. This will serve as the foundation for everything you do moving forward. What type of restaurant do you want to open? Who is your target market? What do you want your restaurant’s “culture” to be? Once you have a clear idea of your concept and target market, you can start to plan your menu and marketing strategy.
“Learning about history in [Savannah] was so empowering. I started to see where I wanted to go with the food. That confidence started to reawaken. I became the chef that was looking backward in order to look forward.” – Mashama Bailey
Location is key when it comes to opening a restaurant, so make sure you choose the right one. You’ll want to choose a spot that is convenient for your target market and has enough foot traffic to generate business. You also want a location that inspires you! Whether it be a neighborhood you are closely involved with and passionate about or a building that just gives the perfect aesthetic, your location should speak to you and your business.
“Profit is not the legitimate purpose of business. The legitimate purpose of business is to provide a product or service that people need and do it so well that it’s profitable.” ― James Rouse
Create a budget and stick to it. Before you start spending money on things like renovations and equipment, you need to create a realistic budget. Once you have a budget in place, stick to it!
“To me, there’s no great chef without a great team.” – Daniel Boulud
Hire a great team. A good staff is essential to the success of any restaurant. From the front of house to the kitchen, make sure you hire staff that are passionate about food and service. Remember, your team is your family, but they’re also an extension of how your customers experience your brand. Look for people willing to grow with you and the restaurant, as well as people you can continue to learn from at all levels.
“Take risks and you’ll get the payoffs. Learn from your mistakes until you succeed.” – Bobby Flay
Promote, promote, promote! Building a restaurant brand is nothing without taking a risk and investing in your promotion. Getting the word out about your new restaurant is crucial. Print and TV advertising is certainly one avenue to go into, but don’t forget what we said earlier about digital marketing! Utilize social media, email marketing, and other online tools to reach your target market. Also be sure to look into how public relations can help serve your brand, and build community partnerships and third-party validation and awareness.
No matter what challenges you face, running a restaurant is ultimately a hugely rewarding experience. It’s a chance to share your passion for food with the world, and to build something that you can be proud of. Running a restaurant takes a lot of hard work, but in the end, it’s worth it. So start your restaurant and follow these tips; soon enough, you’ll be on your way to success.
If you’re looking for a team that can support you in your digital marketing endeavors (whether you want to learn how to do it yourself or hand it over to the experts), book a call to speak to one of our marketing wizards about how we can help you grow your restaurant.