Promoting Your Restaurant in Twitter

Andy Lynes in his latest blog in Big-hospitality: www.bighospitality.co.uk talks about the success of some restaurants using Twitter to promote their businesses.

You can read his blog here: http://www.bighospitality.co.uk/item/3072/23/5/3

Twitter, with more than 6 million unique visitors (UV) a month is the fastest growing Social Network Site. In the attached table you can see how it grew from number 22 to number 3 in a year (and this data is 3 moths old!):
Twitter stats

Although Twitter can’t compete (yet) with Face-book or MySpace in the sheer number of users, it has an advantage that the other two social media sites don’t have: immediacy

When you send a Tweet (a Tweet is a short Twitter message, up to 140 characters), your followers immediately receive it. This gives you a great opportunity to broadcast pertinent information to them.

For example, are you having a slow lunch day?

You can tweet your followers a message announcing that if they go to your restaurant within the next hour, and tell your servers that they saw this offer in Twitter, you will give them a free dessert, (or a 10% discount, or whatever attractive offer you want to make to attract people).

In this way, not only you can capture new customers in slow days/hours but you can also track Twitter’s results. You will know how many of your new customers are coming because of Twitter, (they will tell you!).

And the best of all, it’s that you will do all of this in a very inexpensive (Twitter is free to use so you’ll only absorb the cost of the discount) and interactive way. It surely beats mailing coupons (with the high cost of printing and mailing) and gives you the freedom to totally adapt it to your hourly needs.

But Twitter is not just a US phenomena. Its popularity Worldwide is spreading very fast. In this chart you can see the breakdown of the top 10 countries. So if you restaurant is in any of these countries

you better start Twittering to them.
Twitter penetration
Some other useful information is to know who is using Twitter. This site: http://www.istrategylabs.com/twitter-2009-demographics-and-statistics/ shows very interesting Twitter statistics broke down by sex, age, ethnicity, kids/no kids households, and average income and education. Very interesting information if you use Twitter (or are planning to use it) to target your audience.

So my question to you is: Are you using Twitter to reach your clients (or followers) to promote your restaurant?

If not, you are missing a great a free tool. It totally makes sense that you use this tool to reach to your customers; after all, they are already using Twitter!

Since I know that technology can be sometimes intimidating, and there are so many ways to use Twitter (including many to waste an incredible amount of time with this tool), I am creating a report called: “How to Use Twitter to Promote Your Restaurant”. In this report I explain step by step how to setup a Twitter account, how to use free tools to create a targeted list of followers, how to communicate with them and how to maximize the power of Twitter to promote your restaurant. I included lots of screen captures to help you with the whole process. I think you’ll love it, and the best of all, it will be very inexpensive.

I will announce here when it’s ready.

Have a great day,
Jose L Riesco (www.twitter.com/jlriesco )

Converting Prospect Into Loyal Restaurant Clients

Every time a new person walks in the door, your front of the house personnel (hostess or servers) should have been trained by you to approach them and ask them if this is their first time in your restaurant.

“Is this your first time in our restaurant?  Well let me tell you about us…”

Ask your staff to pitch about the restaurant, about you, how did you started, where did you get the recipes, anything that it’s personal and differentiates your restaurant from your competitors (and by the way, this is the perfect place to pitch your Unique Selling Proposition to your potential and future clients.)

The purpose of this buyer education is to create brand loyalty. Once your clients build a relationship with your restaurant, they are more likely to visit your place than your competitor’s. 

By knowing more about you and your business, you personalize their relationship and their loyalty with your restaurant.

This is why it’s also a good idea to have an online (or printed) quarterly or bimonthly newsletter so that you can give your clients interesting information about your place, your staff and your cuisine.

How Restaurants Should Respond to Customers Asking for Money for Charities

One question that often remains unanswered is what to do with all these people coming to your restaurant and asking for donations (gift certificates).

It seems like lots of people all the sudden think that it is a great idea to go to their favorite restaurant and ask the owners for gift certificates to donate to their children’s schools, their churches or their preferred charities.

Of course, they don’t realize that hundreds of customers and organizations have the same idea and ask for the same gifts. And perhaps they think that this sinking economy is not impacting your business.

And what can you do, poor restaurateur, but suffer the unpleasant experience of having to say NO to these, often pleasant and good people?

Don’t despair. I have a couple of ideas for you to use next time that you get the happy solicitor asking you for a donation:

  1. If the solicitors are organizations with many people: school, hospital, church, charity, etc. Offer to give them many small gift certificates that don’t cover your average price per customer. For example, if your average ticket is $25 per person, offer gift certificates for a value of $10. Also make sure that you clearly print on them that they can’t be combined. You want to take advantage of this opportunity to give away coupons masked as gift certificates for a value less than your average check so that the customers coming will spend more money in your place.
  2. If the solicitors are individual customers. Offer to sell them the gift certificates at a discount. You can apply the same principle than before. You can sell them several $10 gift certificates for a value of $5 each. They can buy as many as they want but they have to give them or raffle them to many people (and not bundling them together) so that many people get to come and try your place. Tell them that you are contributing your share by giving them the discounts, but they also have to contribute theirs by paying for the difference. After all it’s their idea and it should be their donation, not yours.

If you apply both techniques you will:

  • Be happier because you won’t have to say NO to a good cause
  • Leverage your marketing by distributing gift certificates that will bring additional customers (who could be potential clients) to your place at a minimum cost

It is a win-win proposition.

Happy Sailing,
Jose L Riesco
Get a FREE 36 pages Restaurant Marketing Strategies Book Summary here: www.myrestaurantmarketing.com

Using Online Social Networking to Attract New Customers to Your Restaurant

Brenda Segna writes in her blog http://segnamarketing.blogspot.com/2008/11/myspace-for-seo-and-web-marketing.html about using MySpace to attract young customers to a Pizza place.

Some restaurant owners (check out these ones: http://www.myspace.com/tarantinopizza and http://www.myspace.com/mamacitascafe as an example) created a MySpace site to promote their businesses.

MySpace is a social networking website offering an interactive, user-submitted network of friends, personal profiles, blogs, groups, photos, music and videos for teenagers and adults. It is a very music oriented social networking site so teens and young adults constitute the majority of its 120 million members (yes, you read this right One Hundred Million Members!).

As you can imagine, if you have a restaurant targeted to the younger crowd (pizzerias a prototypical example), your message can find them easier if you advertise in the places where they “hang out”. In this case is a virtual hang-out but as valid as the physical world one for marketing purposes.

Creating a MySpace page is free and relatively easy (although the two examples that I gave you have been designed by professionals) so you may want to consider it. There is also the ability to add background music, blogs, etc.

Check out www.myspace.com and give it a try. You never know if it will bring you lots of new customers.

Happy Networking,

Jose L Riesco
© Riesco Consulting Inc.
Restaurant Marketing Strategies

How the Crisis is Affecting the Restaurant Industry

A good friend of mine who owns an upper scale small family restaurant called me in panic. The business is slow, in fact it is so slow that she was afraid that she will have to lay off people because her cash reserves were getting depleted.

It is true that with this uncertain economy, with the stock market collapsing, the sub-prime mortgage down the tubes and the credit taughter than titanium, sometimes it seems like the end of the world.

So what can a restaurateur do to keep the business going?

The best course of action is to focus on the bases. Yes, the economy is not good, yes people go out less and eat less in restaurants because they have less money (specially if they invested in real state or the stock market) or they are just afraid that the economy will collapse and want to save some money… but you know what? This is more an emotional reaction than a real depression with lots of jobs being lost.

Most the people are still keeping their jobs and there is always enough people who go out to eat to fill in your restaurant IF (and this IF is really important in these taught times) provides them with something better than your competitors.

In easy times it easy to make money by just about anybody with a business. People are happier to spend their money when the economy is vibrant and there is plenty to spend and they are less picky where they spend it.

However, turn the economy around, just like now, and people start watching really careful where they spend their hard earned dollars. If they decide to go out for dinner, they better hand pick a restaurant that it will guarantee them a great dinning experience.

This is where your restaurant should shine and set apart from your competitors. Focus on your clients with a laser sharp intensity. Make their dinning dollars count by giving them the best food, best drinks and best service that you are able to provide at your place and they will be grateful to you and come again looking to repeat that great experience.

Also, don’t skimp in your marketing. this is a mistake that many restaurateurs do. In times of crisis, they start cutting down their marketing and sales effort and this brings less clients and less revenue.

Try no to panic and run your business the best you can. This is the only way you can weather these stormy times. Hang in there and wait for the economy to recover and people to come back to eat at your place.

Good luck!

How the Crisis is Affecting the Restaurant Industry

A good friend of mine who owns an upper scale small family restaurant called me in panic. The business is slow, in fact it is so slow that she was afraid that she will have to lay off people because her cash reserves were getting depleted.

It is true that with this uncertain economy, with the stock market collapsing, the sub-prime mortgage down the tubes and the credit taughter than titanium, sometimes it seems like the end of the world.

So what can a restaurateur do to keep the business going?

The best course of action is to focus on the bases. Yes, the economy is not good, yes people go out less and eat less in restaurants because they have less money (specially if they invested in real state or the stock market) or they are just afraid that the economy will collapse and want to save some money… but you know what? This is more an emotional reaction than a real depression with lots of jobs being lost.

Most the people are still keeping their jobs and there is always enough people who go out to eat to fill in your restaurant IF (and this IF is really important in these taught times) provides them with something better than your competitors.

In easy times it easy to make money by just about anybody with a business. People are happier to spend their money when the economy is vibrant and there is plenty to spend and they are less picky where they spend it.

However, turn the economy around, just like now, and people start watching really careful where they spend their hard earned dollars. If they decide to go out for dinner, they better hand pick a restaurant that it will guarantee them a great dinning experience.

This is where your restaurant should shine and set apart from your competitors. Focus on your clients with a laser sharp intensity. Make their dinning dollars count by giving them the best food, best drinks and best service that you are able to provide at your place and they will be grateful to you and come again looking to repeat that great experience.

Also, don’t skimp in your marketing. this is a mistake that many restaurateurs do. In times of crisis, they start cutting down their marketing and sales effort and this brings less clients and less revenue.

Try no to panic and run your business the best you can. This is the only way you can weather these stormy times. Hang in there and wait for the economy to recover and people to come back to eat at your place.

Good luck!

Marketing Your Restaurant in a Slow Economy

It looks like you can’t turn on the radio or TV these days without hearing about the crisis of the economy and recession in the country.

If you just listen to these (bad) news, it looks like the sky will fall on top of our heads any minute now. Restaurant business is a economy driven business and perhaps eating out is the first thing in the chopping list when people don’t have enough disposable income.

However, the good news is that there is always enough people to fill in your place if you don’t get scared and make the following 4 main mistakes:

  1. Reducing Your Marketing and Sales

⁃ This looks like a no brainer. If the business is slow, you need to beef-up your marketing, not cut it down.
⁃ However most restaurateurs make the mistake of reducing costs by reducing their marketing investments. Please notice that I am not proposing to spend more money in marketing. There are many ways to increase your marketing presence while decreasing your marketing costs.
⁃ If you haven’t done so yet, setup a formalized referral system. This is the best and cheapest way to get and maintain quality clients.
⁃ You can find more information about referral systems in my free audio interview. Download here: http://www.myrestaurantmarketing.com

2. Cutting Corners in Quality to Save Money

⁃ You may feel tempted to cut down in the quality of your ingredients to save some money but, believe me, your clients will notice that the quality of your dishes is going down and then they will take their money to some of your competitors.
⁃ Because it is a slow economy, this also means that your clients will be more selective in their restaurant picks. Don’t lower your quality to save a few bucks. Your clients will resent it and so will you when they don’t show up anymore in your place.

3. Reducing Your Work Force

⁃ It is OK to adapt your work force to the needs of your restaurant, but don’t make the mistake to have so few people in your staff that your service will suffer. Great food and service are the cornerstones of any restaurant and you can’t afford to cut any of them.

4. Caring More About Saving Money Than Taking Care of Your Clients

⁃ Never forget what your restaurant is all about. It is all about your clients. Without clients, there is no business. Without business, there is no restaurant. Don’t ever forget that.

Your clients are the lifeblood of your restaurant and in tough times is specially important that you make them feel like royalty. If they are going to spend their hard earned money in your place, you better give them a great reason to do so. After a great dinning experience, they will be more likely to go back to your place than to give their money to your competitors.

This is it, if you can avoid these mistakes, you will be better off than many of your competitors. Don’t forget that there are enough clients to fill your restaurant. Only the restaurateurs that forget the basics and try to save money in the wrong places, will suffer the down turn of this always variable economy.

Happy Sailing,

Jose L Riesco
http://www.myrestaurantmarketing.com

Bad Restaurant Service

Bad Service

This weekend I went with my family and some friends to a trip to Long Beach, WA. On the way, we stopped in a Mexican restaurant to get some lunch.

The place was empty (only the 8 of us and another couple) and we were promptly seated in a long table.

Soon enough, our young (in his late teens or early twenties) waiter came with the nachos, no salsa. When after a while we asked him for some salsa, he smiled and brought it a few minutes later. No big deal.

Then we order our foods. Two members of our party didn’t get their tortillas for their fajitas. We waited and waited but the waiter never came back to check on us. Another woman in our group ordered a Coke that never made it to the table. We needed to get up and look for the waiter who was talking to another guy by the kitchen. Finally a busboy brought us the tortillas when they were almost at the end of the meal.

In the middle of the meal, a terrible noise startled us all. Somebody dropped a whole tray filled with glasses. It made a terrible ruckus and got all the attention from our waiter (although he wasn’t the responsible for the accident). We never saw him again until we had to go again and ask for the check.

They charged us for the coke that we never got but we were ready to leave and didn’t want to make a fuss about $1.65 so we paid and left.

Now, we were in our way to Long Beach and it is doubtful that we will stop in that place for a meal any time soon, but even if I was leaving in that town, I don’t think that I would frequent that place. The food, by the way, was pretty good.

I always said that food in a restaurant is important but service is almost as important. If one of the two fails, the dining experience also fails.

I see often restaurateurs hiring very expensive chefs that get lavishly paid, and compensate their expenses by hiring inexperience (and cheap) servers, often teenagers, who are neither interested in the business nor knowledgeable of what a good dining experience entails.

Don’t make this mistake. Good food with poor service is as bad as bad food with great service. Both need to be in balance if you want your place to succeed. Select the best servers that you can get, train them continuously (teach them the foods, the wines, what makes your place unique and special) and don’t try to squeeze as much money as you can from them. Not only they won’t be motivated to offer an excellent service but they may even resent you and pass that resentment along to your clients.

Remember, the weakest link in your business will setup the standard.

Thanks for reading and happy sailing,

Jose L Riesco
jose@riescoconsulting.com
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You can find more information about restaurant marketing strategies in my website http://www.myrestaurantmarketing.com

Copyright Riesco Consulting Inc.

When aren’t customers good for your business?

Alexander Kjerulf

self defined as “Chief Happiness Officer” writes in his blog http://positivesharing.com about cases where customers are more trouble than benefit for the businesses.

He focuses his examples on the airlines industry, where thousands of people fly every day and have a few customers that are more trouble than benefit.

Mr. Kjerulf these top five reasons why business shouldn’t follow the strategy: “The customer is always right”. I will add my take on this applying his reasonings to the Restaurant industry.

1: It makes employees unhappy

Mr. Kjerulf says that business owners should always be in the employee’s side since they want to keep their employees loyal.
Of course, things are a little different in the restaurant business. Disgruntled customers mean no tips for waiters and really bad publicity (via online forums, etc.) for the restaurant.
Although I agree that you need to be loyal to your employees, and that if a customer is not reasonable and threatens any of your employees you should take always the side of your employee, I sincerely think that your employees could/would put up with any difficult customer if their demands are not unreasonable.
Happy customers are good for everybody (more tips and more referrals) and not all your clients will be pleasant and having nice personalities.

2: It gives abrasive customers an unfair advantage

The reasoning here is that abusive people get away with anything and get better treatment than nice people.
Again, I disagree here. Abusive people perhaps can bully their way once or twice; but your employees will always treat better nice clients by having extra attentions with them, engaging in personal conversation, etc., versus serving the minimum needs of nasty customers so that they don’t complain.

3: Some customers are bad for business

He has a point here. Some customers are impossible to please. Perhaps they have some mental disorders (how many people walk the streets with mental problems? Many for sure) or are just grumpy or unhappy with their lives and they share their unhappiness with everybody around them, or more specific with your staff since they probably feel superior and want to let them know who’s in control.
What can you do with these difficult customers? Well, I would suggest you to try to please them, within a reason.
However, if you see that they become aggressive or disruptive, invite them to leave your premises and tell them that you will call the police if they don’t comply.
The limit of tolerance is the point where they start bothering other clients. This is never acceptable. You can’t afford to have a few out-of-control customers spoiling everybody else’s dining experience.

4: It results in worse customer service

Mr. Kjerulf’s point here is that happier employees make happier customers. I don’t doubt this. I just think that disruptive customers are a minority and your employees should be trained to deal with them. Of course, you need to care about your employees and side with them when they are right, but you also need to care about your clients.
At the end of the day, your clients are the ones who give you the money so you need to keep a balance.

5: Some customers are just plain wrong

The example that Mr. Kjerulf gives here is about a passenger that behave like a jerk. Again this kind of behavior fits into the disruptive category that we mentioned before. This passenger, with his behavior, wasn’t only rude to the flight assistants, he was rude to the rest of the passengers and therefore this can’t be tolerated.
To conclude, your customers have the right to ask for a great dining experience in your place and should ask you to make right something that it’s wrong. However, they don’t have the right to be rude to your staff or disruptive to the rest of your clientele. This is the point where you should intervene and ask them to leave your premises, even at the expense of not charging them for the food. It is better to lose a few dollars that to start a confrontation that makes the situation very uncomfortable for you, your employees and the rest of your clients.
Any Comments? Please let me know what you think.
You can participate in the forums in my web site at www.myrestaurantmarketing.com or email me at jose@riescoconsulting.com
http://www.myrestaurantmarketing.com Copyright Riesco Consulting Inc.

When aren’t customers good for your business?

Alexander Kjerulf

self defined as “Chief Happiness Officer” writes in his blog http://positivesharing.com/ about cases where customers are more trouble than benefit for the businesses.

He focuses his examples on the airlines industry, where thousands of people fly every day and have a few customers that are more trouble than benefit.

Mr. Kjerulf these top five reasons why business shouldn’t follow the strategy: “The customer is always right”. I will add my take on this applying his reasonings to the Restaurant industry.

1: It makes employees unhappy

Mr. Kjerulf says that business owners should always be in the employee’s side since they want to keep their employees loyal.
Of course, things are a little different in the restaurant business. Disgruntled customers mean no tips for waiters and really bad publicity (via online forums, etc.) for the restaurant.
Although I agree that you need to be loyal to your employees, and that if a customer is not reasonable and threatens any of your employees you should take always the side of your employee, I sincerely think that your employees could/would put up with any difficult customer if their demands are not unreasonable.
Happy customers are good for everybody (more tips and more referrals) and not all your clients will be pleasant and having nice personalities.

2: It gives abrasive customers an unfair advantage

The reasoning here is that abusive people get away with anything and get better treatment than nice people.
Again, I disagree here. Abusive people perhaps can bully their way once or twice; but your employees will always treat better nice clients by having extra attentions with them, engaging in personal conversation, etc., versus serving the minimum needs of nasty customers so that they don’t complain.

3: Some customers are bad for business

He has a point here. Some customers are impossible to please. Perhaps they have some mental disorders (how many people walk the streets with mental problems? Many for sure) or are just grumpy or unhappy with their lives and they share their unhappiness with everybody around them, or more specific with your staff since they probably feel superior and want to let them know who’s in control.
What can you do with these difficult customers? Well, I would suggest you to try to please them, within a reason.
However, if you see that they become aggressive or disruptive, invite them to leave your premises and tell them that you will call the police if they don’t comply.
The limit of tolerance is the point where they start bothering other clients. This is never acceptable. You can’t afford to have a few out-of-control customers spoiling everybody else’s dining experience.

4: It results in worse customer service

Mr. Kjerulf’s point here is that happier employees make happier customers. I don’t doubt this. I just think that disruptive customers are a minority and your employees should be trained to deal with them. Of course, you need to care about your employees and side with them when they are right, but you also need to care about your clients.
At the end of the day, your clients are the ones who give you the money so you need to keep a balance.

5: Some customers are just plain wrong

The example that Mr. Kjerulf gives here is about a passenger that behave like a jerk. Again this kind of behavior fits into the disruptive category that we mentioned before. This passenger, with his behavior, wasn’t only rude to the flight assistants, he was rude to the rest of the passengers and therefore this can’t be tolerated.
To conclude, your customers have the right to ask for a great dining experience in your place and should ask you to make right something that it’s wrong. However, they don’t have the right to be rude to your staff or disruptive to the rest of your clientele. This is the point where you should intervene and ask them to leave your premises, even at the expense of not charging them for the food. It is better to lose a few dollars that to start a confrontation that makes the situation very uncomfortable for you, your employees and the rest of your clients.

Any Comments? Please let me know what you think.

Thanks for reading and happy sailing,

Jose L Riesco
jose@riescoconsulting.com
>tech-fav-1

You can find more information about restaurant marketing strategies in my website http://www.myrestaurantmarketing.com

Copyright Riesco Consulting Inc.