Do like the Ritz-Carlton Hotels do. Hold a fashion show in your establishment. Let everyone know about it. Suppliers, past clients, nearby merchants.
The Mystery Letter Campaign. Every week, print a huge letter in your window. If your guest’s last name starts with that letter, give them $10 Off.
Do a cooking class on days when traffic is low. Put your chef to work. Have him teach people your favorite meal. This is a good way to get loyalty from your clientele.
Close the establishment and host private, special interest group evenings. Keith Taylor of Zenith American Grill in Denver, Colorado, closes his restaurant to the public and holds a “Cigar Smokers” evening. This can be adapted for many groups.
Have a BEST meal contest at the big mall. Get celebrity judges and have them judge the best dishes from 2 or 3 competing restaurants. The media love this kind of thing.
Capture everyone’s fax numbers. Every Wednesday, fax out the next day’s Lunch Special along with a coupon. With today’s software programs this is a breeze to do, not to mention, very inexpensive.
Send out letters informing guests that on Monday or Wednesday of next week, they will get a FREE meal. They were not told which day.
One restaurant I know of printed envelopes to give to guests. On the outside, it said, “Do not open until your next visit and you will receive 10%, 15%, 20% or 100% off your entire meal.” Inside the envelope there was the discount. The waiter will give the
customer the envelope by the end of his meal for his next visit. One restaurant gave away 600 envelopes and got 300 back.
Have a loss-leader. Take a loss on some item to create traffic. You could offer a 10 cent meal when you buy one at regular price. Do this on not-so busy times to increase traffic.
Do a balloon popping discount. This works very well if your restaurant caters to children. Put discounts in balloons and have the kids pop the balloon to see how much they save.
If you do catering, offer to do a lunch for free for a company close by. This will be good advertising and will almost surely guarantee you future business.
Send thank you notes for everything.
Provide a valuable free service no one else offers to get people in.
Offer to wash their cars while they eat. Offer a free shoe shine. Find something that no one else does and entice people with it.
Give the MD’s of big companies a FREE meal certificate to get them in. The idea is that once they come in, they will return and maybe bring their entire staff with them.
Get a mascot and have them hand out cards or discount coupons outside your restaurant. This will bring people in for sure.
Several restaurants are catching the Loyalty Program bandwagon.
It’s a good idea. Chez Melange in Los Angeles offers a frequent diners club. People pay $25 which gets them a membership card and 150 points. They then receive one point for every dollar they spend.
For 300 points, guests get a $25 gift certificate. Other prizes include a catered dinner party at home for 12,000 points. At the end of the year the owners throw a big bash for the top 100 frequent diners.
One restaurant in Texas, sold dinner cards for $20. They sold this through door-to-door selling. The cards offered a 2 for 1 deal for up to 30 meals. They sold over 1000 cards. People feel compelled to go back because the cards have an expiry date.
Hold a Company Appreciation Week. Offer certain companies a discount at lunch or a FREE something for the entire week. Rename dishes to suit the company. Give special invitations to the company brass. Take lots of photographs of the employees and send them to the company. It might just make their corporate newsletter.
One restaurant in Toledo, Ohio gives guests who pre-purchase 3 meals a Free subscription to either Fortune Magazine or Time.
Get your customers to become your sales force. Print cards and give them to your regular customers. The card, which they give to their friends, says, “I’m here today because (name of customer) sent me. I understand that I get a 10% discount.” For every three of these from one client, call that client up and put him in your Hall of Fame.
Take his/her picture and give them recognition. (And something Free to eat.)
Get the convention business. Mike Anderson’s Seafood Restaurant in New Orleans finds that working with cab drivers is a great way to attract business during conventions. Find people who are connected to conventions such as the information clerks, badge makers, meeting planners etc. and be sure they know who you are and what you have to offer. If you give them some incentive, they will surely refer you.
You get the point by now. You must do something differently. You must stand out from the crowd. Similarity in restaurants is the reason so many fail. Venture out into the unknown. Think about creating excitement. Stay in touch with your people. Give them what they want. Be creative.
If all this fails, offer me a FREE meal and I’ll give you 100 more ideas every 10 minutes.
Gerry Robert is the international bestselling author of The Millionaire Mindset and five other best-selling books. Gerry has an inspirational story, going from from poverty to earning millions in a single year. Today Gerry is mentor to some of the highest income earners in the world. He has spoken and addressed over 3 million people in his various live events and has worked with many fortune 500 corporations like IBM, ReMax, Royal Bank, CIBC, Air Canada, Investors Group, Prudential, Malaysian Airlines, General Motors and many more.