The greatest dilemma to restaurant owners is how to attract customers to a new restaurant. Attracting customers to a new restaurant everyday and sustaining their patronage is what keeps restaurants in business and ensures long-term success. Yes, an "OPEN" sign pasted in the front window will tell potential customers you're open for business but the question is – will it be enough to get them to walk in? It won't. Effective strategies are essential for attracting customers to your new restaurant and they'll add more compelling and meaningful value to your "open" sign.
- Focus on what's important to diners. People who'll be dining at your new restaurant will expect delicious food; attractive, self-explanatory menus; reasonable prices; friendly, knowledgeable staff; a warm, appealing ambience and all the little extras that can make their dining experience an enjoyable, rewarding one. These are some of the most important reasons that will attract customers to your restaurant and keep them coming back. Therefore, focus your attention on ALL these areas and make sure to deliver on them consistently.
- Create awareness for your restaurant. When you've got the chef, waiters, bartender, menus and ambience in place, the next important task is to create awareness for your new restaurant. There are several cost-effective ways to do so. For example, you may hand out flyers containing discount coupons to people employed in nearby businesses and guests of hotels, motels and lodges in the vicinity; advertise special introductory offers in local newspapers; use public places to distribute restaurant menus or organize a contest offering people the chance to win gift certificates or free meals. In order to ensure a continuous flow of new customers AND sustain their patronage, persist with these strategies periodically.
- Give people valuable reasons to return. The restaurant business is highly competitive and more so, during a recession. That's why it is important to give your returning customers some valuable incentives. For example, offer a free appetizer or dessert to a few loyal customers, once in a while; make periodic, "2-for-the-price-of-one meal offers; give small take-home gifts to frequent diners, such as a water bottle, a baseball cap or a coffee mug with your restaurant's name printed on. Offering incentives is a great way to keep your customers coming back AND happy. So, make sure to give them something they perceive as valuable and do so as often as you can.