How to Attract Customers to Your Restaurant: The Best Tips and Tricks

There are over half a million full-service restaurants in the United States alone. Add that to the volume of restaurants that exist globally and it’s clear that food is big business.

Just because people love to eat though doesn’t mean that opening a restaurant is a guaranteed way to make money. As a matter of fact, restaurants are particularly prone to failure given their often slim margins and stiff competition.

So, is there a reliable how to attract customers method that restaurant owners can leverage to predictably stay afloat?

While there’s no magic bullet answer to that question, there are strategies industry professionals frequently lean on to improve their odds of success. Here are nine of those strategies.

1. Perfect Your Experience

The single most important factor when it comes to piecing together how to attract customers is making sure that your restaurant is worthy of people’s time and money. More specifically, your service needs to be good, your value needs to be great and your food needs to be exceptional.

Therefore, before you start focusing on clever marketing tactics to drive revenue, focus on providing proper inductions for new employees, perfect your menu and ensure your hospitality is on-point.

If you do that, you’ll find that gaining traction in your market will become exponentially easier.

2. Have a “Thing”

There are a lot of restaurants out there that claim to have great food. Because of that, advertising that you have the “best food in the area” isn’t going to resonate with customers.

On the other hand, if you were to niche-down your claim and say, “We have the best pulled-pork sandwiches in the state”, your claim would hit harder.

Figure out what your restaurant’s “thing” can be and lean on it in your marketing.

3. Identify Slow Periods and Make Them Enticing

In the restaurant business, weekend evenings take care of themselves. It’s often slow, weekday afternoons that take finessing to get right.

The aim of making slow periods popular is why many establishments offer time-sensitive specials like “happy hour”. Our recommendation to you is that you identify when your business can use a boost and offer promotions during that period to get the jolt you need.

4. Pay Attention to Your Online Reputation

The vast majority of your customers will look you up online before choosing to eat at your establishment. If what they see about you online is negative, you can be sure they’ll dine elsewhere.

That’s why it’s imperative that restaurants in today’s digital age be proactive when nurturing their online reputation.

Doing simple things like responding to guest reviews and resolving issues on-site before upset customers can take to the internet is helpful to that end.

5. Create Strategic Partnerships

Restaurants can often drive additional business by finding entertainment venues in the area and offering their customers discounts on meals. For example, if you have a movie theater in your area, consider partnering with them by offering ticket holders a discount on meals.

This means of promotion is often free to set up and can yield excellent results if the business you partner with is well patronized.

6. Provide Ample Online Resources

We’ve already mentioned that most of your customers will do online research about your restaurant before choosing to do business with you. To help those guests make an informed decision, do everything in your power to provide helpful information on your website.

For example, having up to date menus and pricing online can help consumers better plan their experiences and will reduce chances that the wrong kind of customer will visit your business only to be disappointed by your offerings.

7. Be Online Order Friendly

Sometimes customers prefer to eat-in. By allowing those people to order food for delivery or pick-up, you enable that group of patrons to dine their way.

And the best part? You don’t need to have a dedicated delivery team to carry out online orders. By partnering with organizations like Postmates or Grubhub, you can have third parties fulfill online orders which will expand your reach without putting additional stress on your team.

8. Connect With Corporate Crowds

Corporate audiences often conduct events that can bring a lot of revenue into restaurants. By letting local businesses know that you’re open to hosting catered events at deep discounts, you can attract a steady stream of corporate clients,  particularly during holiday periods.

Leaving flyers with local businesses announcing your rates or how they can request quotes can help you take advantage of this opportunity.

9. Push for Press Coverage

Getting positive press can make for a helpful way to attract customers. To get the attention of local outlets, send press releases to various publications letting them know what sets your eatery apart.

If your pitch is interesting enough, you may receive a request to schedule an interview.

Knowing How to Attract Customers Is Only Part of the Battle

Reading tips on how to attract customers to your restaurant is easy. Taking the advice you read and carving out time to implement those strategies is hard.

We challenge you to make the most out of the information you’ve just consumed by putting into practice at least one of the tips you’ve learned. Just by making a single change, you may find that your restaurant’s success will start to build in a big way!

For more tips on how to get the most out of your business, check out additional information on the subject in our blog!

Adam Hansen

Adam is a part time journalist, entrepreneur, investor and father.