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 Twitter to Promote Your Restaurant

I am so busy building my consulting business and finishing editing the last chapter of my Restaurant Marketing Strategies book (almost done, two more weeks and I will have it ready!) that I didn’t even have time to blog lately.

However, today I was reading today an interesting blog from 9 Giant Steps called “A restaurant is actually doing The Straddle: (http://www.9giantsteps.com/?p=1000) and this blog got me motivated to write a short comment.

Twitter (for the ones of you who are not familiar with all the Social Media happening lately) is a service for friends, family, and coworkers to communicate and stay connected through the exchange of quick, frequent messages answering the question: What are you doing? You can find more information about this service in their home site: www.twitter.com

George Howard, the blogger in www.9giantsteps.com was wondering if any restaurateur was tweeting out their specials to spread the word to potential customers using this social media.

Well, the world is big and there are many restaurateurs trying to actively promote their business so he got some answers from a couple of places that use Twitter as a means to advertise their specials.

This is a great idea for a bar or a place with lots of activity and things happening. Many people use Twitter from their mobile phones or notebooks connected via WiFi so a well placed information about your specials could entice somebody to visit your place.

Location and timeliness could be the factors that make somebody react and go to your restaurant instead of your competitors.

The nice thing about Twitter is that the messages have to be short by definition. Twitter doesn’t allow you to write anything that has more than 140 characters so you need to be concise in your messages.

Go ahead, give it a try and be creative. You never know how many people will respond to your messages.

By the way, my Twitter name is jlriesco so feel free to send me some messages with feedback or just to say hello.

Happy Tweeting!

Jose L Riesco
www.myrestaurantmarketing.com

Using cash rewards to bring people to your restaurant

Today I stumbled upon a Web site that uses cash rewards to bring people to restaurants.

I won’t name it, but if you look in Google for Restaurant Marketing, they show up in the Sponsored links quite high (under the heading: Restaurant Promotions).

Once you go to their web site, they have this Heading: Drive Huge Traffic To Your Restaurant With A Big Prize Offer!

There are so many wrong things with this marketing approach that I don’t even know where to start…

Ok, perhaps I do, let’s try this:

  1. You will spend lots of money attracting new customers.
  2. These customers will go to your place only because of the Prize Offer.
  3. You will probably fill the restaurant once.
  4. These are bargain seekers, not quality customers (the kind of clients that you want to attract and cultivate).
  5. They won’t come back again (at least that you give them more prices or freebies).
  6. You will make little or not money, even with a full restaurant.
  7. You may alienate your existing clients.
  8. You will attract the cheapest customers ever.

Do you think that this is worth it? I really don’t think so.

Instead, spend your money bringing back your best clients. Give them incentives to come back with their family and friends. (I’ve talked about this in my previous blog, this strategy is also mentioned in detail in my Restaurant Marketing Strategies Seminar). This is the best way to spend your marketing dollars.

Forget about promotions, forget about ads in newspapers and magazines. Instead, spend your time and your money cultivating your existing clients.

If you do this, your return on investment will be always well spent. You will invest your money wisely and you will attract the best clients. If they don’t come, you don’t pay! Now this is being strategic!

For more information and to check what my seminar is all about, please check my web site Restaurant Marketing Strategies.
Happy Sailing,
Jose L Riesco
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Using cash rewards to bring people to your restaurant

Today I stumbled upon a Web site that uses cash rewards to bring people to restaurants.

I won’t name it, but if you look in Google for Restaurant Marketing, they show up in the Sponsored links quite high (under the heading: Restaurant Promotions).

Once you go to their web site, they have this Heading: Drive Huge Traffic To Your Restaurant With A Big Prize Offer!

There are so many wrong things with this marketing approach that I don’t even know where to start…

Ok, perhaps I do, let’s try this:

  • You will spend lots of money attracting new customers.
  • These customers will go to your place only because of the Prize Offer.
  • You will probably fill the restaurant once.
  • These are bargain seekers, not quality customers (the kind of clients that you want to attract and cultivate).
  • They won’t come back again (at least that you give them more prices or freebies).
  • You will make little or not money, even with a full restaurant.
  • You may alienate your existing clients.
  • You will attract the cheapest customers ever.

Do you think that this is worth it? I really don’t think so.

Instead, spend your money bringing back your best clients. Give them incentives to come back with their family and friends. (I’ve talked about this in my previous blog, this strategy is also mentioned in detail in my Restaurant Marketing Strategies Seminar). This is the best way to spend your marketing dollars.

Forget about promotions, forget about ads in newspapers and magazines. Instead, spend your time and your money cultivating your existing clients.

If you do this, your return on investment will be always well spent. You will invest your money wisely and you will attract the best clients. If they don’t come, you don’t pay! Now this is being strategic!

Thanks for reading and happy sailing,
Jose L Riesco

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

Copyright Riesco Consulting Inc.

Using cash rewards to bring people to your restaurant

Today I stumbled upon a Web site that uses cash rewards to bring people to restaurants.

I won’t name it, but if you look in Google for Restaurant Marketing, they show up in the Sponsored links quite high (under the heading: Restaurant Promotions).

Once you go to their web site, they have this Heading: Drive Huge Traffic To Your Restaurant With A Big Prize Offer!

There are so many wrong things with this marketing approach that I don’t even know where to start…

Ok, perhaps I do, let’s try this:

  • You will spend lots of money attracting new customers.
  • These customers will go to your place only because of the Prize Offer.
  • You will probably fill the restaurant once.
  • These are bargain seekers, not quality customers (the kind of clients that you want to attract and cultivate).
  • They won’t come back again (at least that you give them more prices or freebies).
  • You will make little or not money, even with a full restaurant.
  • You may alienate your existing clients.
  • You will attract the cheapest customers ever.

Do you think that this is worth it? I really don’t think so.

Instead, spend your money bringing back your best clients. Give them incentives to come back with their family and friends. (I’ve talked about this in my previous blog, this strategy is also mentioned in detail in my Restaurant Marketing Strategies Seminar). This is the best way to spend your marketing dollars.

Forget about promotions, forget about ads in newspapers and magazines. Instead, spend your time and your money cultivating your existing clients.

If you do this, your return on investment will be always well spent. You will invest your money wisely and you will attract the best clients. If they don’t come, you don’t pay! Now this is being strategic!

Thanks for reading and happy sailing,
Jose L Riesco

tech-fav-1
You can find more information about restaurant marketing strategies in my website http://www.myrestaurantmarketing.com

Copyright Riesco Consulting Inc.

Surveys and Car Dealers

I don’t know about you, but I hate the Car Dealer Surveys.

Some months ago, my wife and I bought a new car: a Toyota Prius. The car dealer didn’t know much about the car. He told us that all the models came with a rear camera (wrong) and he even had difficulty starting the car (you just need to push a button instead of turning a key). He was a nice guy and we loved the car so we bought it anyway.

Since we had the kids with us and the purchase of a car can even dent the patience of the most dedicated Zen Monk, we left the dealership asking our sales person to prepare the paperwork for us so that we could come a couple of days later and just sign it in.

Of course, a couple of days later we showed up just to find out that the paperwork wasn’t done (he hadn’t even started it). We waited patiently (again with the kids bored and complaining) and after two more hours we’ve got the car. All in all, a normal car buying experience.

But now, here it’s the kick: after all was done and we sat on the car ready to leave, the smiley car dealer comes by with a Toyota survey and ask us to fill it in saying “Anything less than 5 stars is unacceptable”. Five starts means “exceeding expectations”.

Now, I am not really picky, I was ready to score as average since the service was average (actually it was probably below average) but come on! Exceeding expectations? I don’t think so (and really I don’t have very high expectations about car dealers).

So I’ve just ignored the survey (he was a nice guy after all and I didn’t want to damage his scoring) but I kept on wondering what’s the meaning of these surveys anyway?

Does really Toyota (or any other car manufacturer for that matter, since this happened to me also at Honda) think that all their dealers exceed customers expectations? What’s the game here?

I mention this anecdote because we don’t want to repeat this mistake in our restaurant business. If you ever ask your clients for feedback, ask for (and expect) genuine feedback and don’t get mad or defensive if the feedback that you get is less than optimum.

The purpose of feedback is to gather realistic information about your business so that you can improve it. By conditioning your audience about what to write in the feedback, you lose its purpose.

Ask sincerely and expect candid answers. This is the only way for you to get better and to make your place among the best in the industry.

If you only want to hear positive things, then don’t bother with a survey, have your friends talk nicely to you about your place. It won’t help you improve your business, but it will make you feel good and/or bust your self-esteem.

However, if you are serious about improving and getting better at what you are doing, then you need to confront the reality and accept the criticisms. Analyze and address all the critics. Even if they are due to a human error or a mistake, you can always thank the person giving you the feedback and either compensate them (if appropriate) or assure them that the problem or issue won’t happen again.

Also, try to see if you can find patterns in the comments. If so, this is an area that you need to focus on and improve. Again, thank the people who gave you the honest feedback, and put together an improvement plan (involve your employees in its implementation).

At the end, using feedback to improve your business is the best way to get ahead of your competitors. Unfortunately in this industry, owners often disregard honest criticism and always try to justify their actions, even if they or some of their employees were responsible for whatever wrong it happened (we are all humans, we all make mistakes from time to time) instead of using this feedback as a way to improve their processes and their employees.

And since we are talking about feedback, please feel free to send me any feedback regarding these blogs. Do you find them useful? Do you think that they are too obvious or a waste of your time? Just let me know. I won’t get mad. I promise.

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.

Surveys and Car Dealers

I don’t know about you, but I hate the Car Dealer Surveys.

Some months ago, my wife and I bought a new car: a Toyota Prius. The car dealer didn’t know much about the car. He told us that all the models came with a rear camera (wrong) and he even had difficulty starting the car (you just need to push a button instead of turning a key). He was a nice guy and we loved the car so we bought it anyway.

Since we had the kids with us and the purchase of a car can even dent the patience of the most dedicated Zen Monk, we left the dealership asking our sales person to prepare the paperwork for us so that we could come a couple of days later and just sign it in.

Of course, a couple of days later we showed up just to find out that the paperwork wasn’t done (he hadn’t even started it). We waited patiently (again with the kids bored and complaining) and after two more hours we’ve got the car. All in all, a normal car buying experience.

But now, here it’s the kick: after all was done and we sat on the car ready to leave, the smiley car dealer comes by with a Toyota survey and ask us to fill it in saying “Anything less than 5 stars is unacceptable”. Five starts means “exceeding expectations”.

Now, I am not really picky, I was ready to score as average since the service was average (actually it was probably below average) but come on! Exceeding expectations? I don’t think so (and really I don’t have very high expectations about car dealers).

So I’ve just ignored the survey (he was a nice guy after all and I didn’t want to damage his scoring) but I kept on wondering what’s the meaning of these surveys anyway?

Does really Toyota (or any other car manufacturer for that matter, since this happened to me also at Honda) think that all their dealers exceed customers expectations? What’s the game here?

I mention this anecdote because we don’t want to repeat this mistake in our restaurant business. If you ever ask your clients for feedback, ask for (and expect) genuine feedback and don’t get mad or defensive if the feedback that you get is less than optimum.

The purpose of feedback is to gather realistic information about your business so that you can improve it. By conditioning your audience about what to write in the feedback, you lose its purpose.

Ask sincerely and expect candid answers. This is the only way for you to get better and to make your place among the best in the industry.

If you only want to hear positive things, then don’t bother with a survey, have your friends talk nicely to you about your place. It won’t help you improve your business, but it will make you feel good and/or bust your self-esteem.

However, if you are serious about improving and getting better at what you are doing, then you need to confront the reality and accept the criticisms. Analyze and address all the critics. Even if they are due to a human error or a mistake, you can always thank the person giving you the feedback and either compensate them (if appropriate) or assure them that the problem or issue won’t happen again.

Also, try to see if you can find patterns in the comments. If so, this is an area that you need to focus on and improve. Again, thank the people who gave you the honest feedback, and put together an improvement plan (involve your employees in its implementation).

At the end, using feedback to improve your business is the best way to get ahead of your competitors. Unfortunately in this industry, owners often disregard honest criticism and always try to justify their actions, even if they or some of their employees were responsible for whatever wrong it happened (we are all humans, we all make mistakes from time to time) instead of using this feedback as a way to improve their processes and their employees.

And since we are talking about feedback, please feel free to send me any feedback regarding these blogs. Do you find them useful? Do you think that they are too obvious or a waste of your time? Just let me know. I won’t get mad. I promise.

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.