Tag Archives | Guerrilla Marketing

Simple Tips On How To Grow A Restaurant VIP Club

restaurantvipIt just hurts me to see restaurants to not be able to grow their VIP Club membership as fast as they could. Having experienced a sluggish growth of their membership, or no growth for a long time, many restaurant owners abandon the whole idea of VIP Club. Almost always, prematurely.

Which is sad. Because there is not a faster, easier, or more profitable way to grow restaurant sales than a Restaurant VIP Club.

The following is a short — and by no means complete — list of tips to help you dramatically accelerate the growth of your VIP Club list and of your restaurant business:

1. Offer a clear benefit

Placing a little fishbowl at the cash register is not enough. Sure, some people will drop their business card in there. But don’t expect your guests to line up and trip over themselves at a chance to get on your list. You need to offer a clear benefit to them, the benefit they will realize by joining your VIP Club.

2. Train your staff

Your staff should be doing the sales work for your VIP Club.  Nothing in this world, including your VIP Club, sells by itself.  And your staff will fail, quit, and sabotage your vision unless they believe they can sell what you’re asking them to sell. Keep it simple and leave no room for improvisation. Write a script, rehearse and role-play it until it becomes automatic and natural.

3. Get a buy-in from your staff

We’ve seen restaurants where the staff were refusing to sell the restaurant’s VIP Club to the patrons because they perceived that to be some sort of a “gocha”, a marketing ploy. Your job as a restaurant owner or manager is to educate and inspire your troops and to help them see the good that your patrons gain from belonging to VIP club.

4. Motivate your staff

Why not set up a contest for your waitstaff and have them compete for the most new VIP Club enrollments? Obviously, you can’t have such a competition with no buy-in from your staff in the first place. (See #3 above.)

5. Set up special events

The calendar should be your biggest friend. It gives you virtually endless opportunities to piggy-back and capitalize on some major and not-so-major holidays. As I’m writing this, The Mother’s Day is just around the corner. Do you have anything special happening at your restaurant that week? No? Boo to you!  And if you missed that opportunity, no fear. Because you can always create your own holiday, any day. Go to This Day In History page, pick the month and the date, find an event you could connect to your brand, food, character, heritage or the latest news item related to your restaurant, and create an event around it.

By growing your restaurant’s VIP Club membership, you can reduce the need to advertse, have more control over the type of customers you attract, and dramatically improve the profitability of your restaurant business.  And in order to grow the membership fast, you need to follow a few simple (albeit not necessarily easy) rules.

Marketing A Restaurant In December (So As It’d Stay Busy Through January)

restaurant-lineYou know how it typically goes…

You get a swarm of people before the holidays. They come in, they celebrate the jolly festivities, they eat and drink and swipe their credit cards.

Then the dreadful January rolls in. Customers retreat to their caves and roll a big stone to block the entrance. They are gone and there are none of them in sight.

None. Zero. Zilch. Nil. Nada.

So the usual deal for a restaurant owner has been this: Make enough money when the celebration is going on and the business is brisk, and have enough of it stashed away in the bank account to keep the lights on when things are slow.

This has been the approach for years.

Alas, it just may not work this time. With the economy the way it is, everyone is bracing for a “soft” holiday season. You don’t have to be clairvoyant to know that this January is about to be one of the worst — or possibly THE worst — that one has ever seen.

That is, the one who is unprepared.

It certainly doesn’t have to be that way for you and your restaurant.

So what could you do now to make sure that most of the customers that visit your restaurant this month come back in the New Year? And what could start bringing them back more often than in the past?

Well, you could make your food a bit better (and you should). Is that going to do the trick? Unlikely.

You could improve your service (and you should). Just don’t expect to see a dramatic and an instantaneous increase in your food sales.

So what can it be?

There are a number of things you can do. Let’s cover just one today very briefly.

This tactic is called “The Secret Envelope” or “The Santa Envelope” and has been used extremely successfully by many a restaurant.

Here’s how it works.

You give your guests a sealed enveloped with a prize inside. They can’t open the envelope themselves (and if they do, they forfeit the prize). They have to bring it back to your restaurant in January and have your staff open it.

The prizes that you create for this contest can as small as a free coffee / desert / appetizer to something quite large like a $500 or even a $1,000 gift certificate. (Obviously, there is going to be only one super-big prize and a whole bunch of smaller ones.)

If you do it right, you will have a stampede of customers in January. We’ve seen this happen time and again.

We will be walking you through the details of this approach at a free restaurant marketing seminar in Toronto one week from now. (If the above link doesn’t open, just go to http://www.RestaurantAcademy.com and find the event there.)

We’ll be covering this and two other powerful tactics to help you make more money in your restaurant business now and next year.