In the currently-busting digital world where a smartphone is practically a commodity, using social media (Facebook, Twitter, Yelp, Foursquare) to promote your restaurant is an absolute must. When maintaining a fan base (or repeat customers, whatever you call it) becomes crucial to keep your business alive, sometimes creativity can go quite a bit to make sure your restaurant gets top-billing.
One way to do so is to reward your loyal customers. The first thing most people will come to mind are loyalty cards, but there are better ways to treat your repeats. Maybe your customer deserves a free meal or a dessert. Maybe even treat your customer with a dish you’re trying and say, “It’s on the house.” These small reminders that you love your loyal customers goes a long way for your loyal customers to stay that way.
Another way to promote your restaurant is to recognize national days. Recognizing Veterans Day or Thanksgiving are needlessly obvious, but did you know November is Banana Pudding Lovers Month? How about that on every December 4th, is National Cookie Day? You’re not only rewarding your customers with some free treats, but it shows that you are truly committed to customer service.
And yet another option to make sure your restaurant gets some recognition is to offer cooking lessons. Assuming your chef’s okay with it (and you should ask! Chefs are people too!) have your chef take a few hours and do a demo to the participants. It may be a turn-off at first that you’re giving your secrets away, but it doesn’t have to be your signature dish! Maybe your chef’s trying to craft a new dish and needs some feedback. You’re not only getting your own home-grown focus group, but this is also a way to earn some new followers as well.
And if you want to go even further, there’s also a grazing menu. For those not familiar, grazing menus offer miniature dishes of main dishes (so you might be doing a 10-course or even a 20-course menu instead of a three) This is not only a way to resolve indecisive eaters, but also make sure your customers get to try everything. In South Korea, something roughly similar is done and it’s called banchan. Now this doesn’t necessarily mean replace your appetizers, but having a grazing menu opens the opportunities that your customer especially likes one of your dishes and they’re going to stick to it.
Now certainly there are a plethora of other ideas to promote your restaurant (catering events are popular options), but ultimately it’s up to you on how you’ll gain your fans. Sometimes, reaching a little farther can go a long way. After all, it’s not like your customers are forced to come to your restaurant.