You’ve got your business plan, kitchen equipment, food, spices, and if you’re a bar, hundreds of tequila or ciders options ready to flow. The one thing you don’t have yet though is customers! Here are 22 ways to get the word out about your restaurant or bar so you can climb the ranks as the best new establishment in your town.
1. Get A Website, And Have A Professional Market It For You
We’ve seen some pretty nice “Do-It-Yourself” websites over the past several years and this is one area bars and restaurants need to enhance in this competitive market. Having a clean looking website is really important as it with be your “first impression” they will see when searching for new establishments in your area. What is even more important is the ability to find you on the internet. So congratulations on getting the pretty website, now you need to hire a pro to help you attract people to it. A professional can analyze the data on your website to make sure your website comes up when people start searching for businesses that provide the services you provide. So unless you’re an expert at SEO, SEM, Adwords, or any other marketing acronym, look for a reputable professional in your local market who can help you get your website up and running the right way!
2. Join Your Local Chamber Of Commerce
One of the best ways to get exposure for your business is to join your local chamber of commerce. As a restaurant or bar owner, I understand you don’t have a lot of time to socialize, but if you can find a way to make it to a couple meetings per month, not only will you meet great people, but you will also be able to source vendors that have been vetted by the local chamber. Attending meetings will also give you the opportunity to tell your story in a way that allows you to build authentic relationships with people that will be come your friends and advocates in business.
3. Get Your Social Game Cooking
Let’s face it, Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, SnapChat, and Twitter aren’t going away anytime soon, so hire someone to manage your social media for you because your customers spend most of their time browsing the internet on their mobile devices for new places to eat, drink, and be merry. Launching your social media channels long before you open will allow you to build a following that can’t wait to try your new restaurant or bar. Not only that but if you do a good job engaging on social media, they’ll bring their friends with them to your grand opening.
4. Launch A Loyalty Program
Begin enrolling people in your loyalty program before you open doors. You can do this by using your social media channels to acquire subscribers to your loyalty program so they get notified via text or email as soon as you launch! It’s also automatic in most cases, allowing you to focus on opening your business.
5. Use Email
With everyone, including me, being glued to our devices 80% of the time, there’s never been a better time to have someone’s email address. So don’t run out and buy a Square Register because they don’t allow you to capture email addresses. You need a POS system that allows you to capture that information and use it for your business. Setting up an email campaign will allow you to stay on someone’s mind as they are living their life. Research shows that customers are more likely to come back if you stay in touch via email or some other means.
6. Develop Marketing Partnerships
You don’t have to do this alone. You have food & liquor to entice people. Network with entrepreneurs in your community and ask them if they would be willing to hand out your gift cards to some of their choice clientele, and do the same for them. You can build a great business by being a resource and collaborating with other non-competing businesses around you.
7. Donate Your Talent
Create a raffle or an opportunity for someone to get a free dinner for two or a free growler with a t-shirt at a local community event. This gets your name in front of people and before you know it you’re a household name!
8. Follow & Set Trends
You’re opening a bar or a restaurant because it’s probably something you love or at least enjoy. It important to have your own style and to be a trendsetter, but it also doesn’t hurt to add certain menu items that are already in high demand so you become the new hip place that is current with the times and has unique food or beverages they can’t get anywhere else. For example, people in today’s world are super health conscious and into the latest health fad, so do something with it in your business. Add some acai berries to those tacos, sprinkle some chia seeds on it, baby!
9. Sponsor A Local Cause
If you know anything about Millennials, we’re the generation that gravitates to companies that believe in making the world a better place. Whether it’s animals, whales, global warming, or some other cause that benefits the world, we are more likely to support a business that values what we value over one that doesn’t seem to have values that matter. So sponsor a cause that you get behind, and in the spirit of gratitude, you will attract people to your business that will value your business and advocate for your success.
10. Cater To The Ladies
It’s no secret that the ladies make most of the financial decisions. So ignore the fellas and go all in on making sure your entire experience caters to her, cause the fellas just want to hang with the ladies no matter where it is, and we will spend the money to make sure she’s happy. Period.
11. Create A Funny Commercial
If you can make people laugh, they will follow your business and want to come find out what your business is all about. They will also watch your video several times on your website and share it with their friends and family. If nothing else, make a video that shares the mission behind what you’re doing and people will want to be connected with the positive energy.
12. Make Remarkable, Inviting Brand Clothing
Having cool logos, t-shirts, pens, and hats go a long way. If you’re wearing your company brand around and it looks cool, people will ask you about your business and you have an opportunity to hand out your gift card or coupon to your grand opening.
13. Hand Out Gift Cards
You can’t just wait for clients to come to you. You should keep 100 gift cards in your car at all times with $5 on them and you should hand them out at every function you go to. I’ve been to dozens of restaurants after meeting the owner in line at the store where I was given a gift card. You never know who works at the big company that calls you up with a huge catering order.
14. Host A Networking Event
Bringing people together in your local community to exchange leads to grow their business is a great way to allow people to enjoy your space and learn about your new business while growing theirs. Contact local associations and offer your space and perhaps a discount on food or beverages if they have their event at your establishment.
15. Contribute To A Local Youth Sports Team
Hey, everyone loves the kids. And people appreciate it when you’re genuinely interested in supporting what their children are up to. Find a local youth team that you can inspire with your experience as a growing entrepreneur in the community. You will build relationships that will benefit you in business, but you will also make a positive impact on our future leaders.
16. Hire Well Connected, Goal Oriented Staff
Hiring the right people is important because you can’t do it all by yourself. You will need other people in your business that will help you drive sales and communicate with customers. The reason I say well connected and goal oriented is because well-connected people will be able to draw their network of friends and family into your establishment. Goal orientation is critical because people with goals are more likely to provide excellent customer service as they want to advance their career while they build a solid reputation.
17. Have A Grand Opening
Have a grand opening and make sure everyone knows about it. Make sure it’s before your soft opening so you don’t have to worry about whether your team is ready for primetime. Use this event as an opportunity to share what makes your bar or restaurant different from everything else people already have access to. This is also a great time to hear from your community what they are looking for in a bar/restaurant so you can make sure you deliver.
18. Create A Corporate Benefits Program
Do you have larger employers in your area? Pick one or two and approach them about creating a benefit for their employees. Maybe you can be part of their employee appreciation strategy? This can be a great way to expand your audience and create brand loyalty, especially if you’re able to help them increase their employee retention and engagement.
19. Deliver Free Samples To Other Local Businesses
Everyone loves free samples, especially if they get to be in on a new product or service before it launches. Put together some samples and schedule a time to drop off some samples to the businesses you would like to do business with. This is also a great time to get feedback on ways you can improve your product.
20. Make A Difference & Check Out Causely
Social media is a great way to spread the message of your restaurant, but one of the biggest challenges for businesses is getting people to engage with their brand on Facebook. You need to attract people to your social media channel, and then you need to engage with them in somewhat real-time so your followers can build a relationship with your brand. Causely helps you attract them by donating to a charity when people check-in at your restaurant or bar. When people check-in their network is notified bringing exposure to your business all while making the world a better place.
21. Host Education Classes
One way to develop brand ambassadors for your new restaurant or bar is through education. Host a 1-hour event at your establishment and teach them how to make a dessert or their favorite drink. I know what you’re thinking, this sounds a little counterintuitive, but the reality is that while people will learn your secret sauce, they probably won’t have time to replace you so they will be back and will be happy to frequent your restaurant or bar no matter what. What this accomplishes though is people naturally want to spend money with people they know, like, and trust and will see your brand differently than your competitors simply because they got to spend a little more time with you. If you don’t have time to do it, have one of your vendors come in and teach the class on your behalf.
22. Connect With The Local News Channel
Remember when we talked about dropping off some free samples? Well here’s where you can implement that strategy. Drop your secret sauce off at the news station and see if you can get some air time! The local news station is always looking for a cool local story to tell to offset the rest of the nonsense in the news, so take advantage of it!
We hope this article helps you grow your business and dominate in the market. We are cheering for you at the Northwest Advisory Group! Don’t hesitate to reach out if there’s anything we can do to help.