Tag Archives | Restaurant Sales

Is Restaurant Email Marketing Dead?

email restaurant marketingThese days you often hear about the imminent “death of email.” Social media junkies and newbie consultants eager to sell some new “fad-of-the-day” marketing idea usually point out that:

  • email marketing doesn’t work as well as it used to
  • social media, texting, mobile apps, etc. are the next big thing and are going to replace email
  • teens (i.e. future adults) don’t use email that much anymore, and once they grow up, they won’t use it either.

These are lies, which, if you choose to believe them, will hurt your business.

What makes them believable is that they are partially true. (By the way, for a lie to work it has to have an element of truth.)

Let’s review each of these statements.

Restaurant Marketing Lie #1: “Email is dead”

It’s true that in many markets, the effectiveness of email marketing has gone down. However, the same can be said about a lot of other marketing tools and methods. The issue is not as much email per se as the fact that we live in an over-communicated society. Anywhere we turn, we are bombarded by advertising messages. Our brain just had to figure out a way to keep us sane by protecting us from the onslaught of marketing information. It subconsciously ignores and automatically discards anything that looks like a marketing message.

Now, as a restaurant owner trying to get your marketing to work, you need to find a way to sneak your marketing message under the radar of your prospect’s brain. The only way to do that is to make your marketing messages NOT look like marketing. There are very few restaurants that know how to be a “stealth marketer.”

Restaurant Marketing Lie #2: Only the “new media” matters now

It’s true that you should always be looking for ways to add new marketing tools arsenal. However, this should not be your starting point. Unless and until you build a proper marketing foundation in the form of a responsive email subscription list, your chances of successfully implementing all these other tools are significantly diminished.

We keep hearing about “new media” replacing “old media” but it rarely happens: Movies didn’t make books obsolete, and TV did not stop people from going to movies. In much the same way, Facebook, SMS texting and mobile apps can and probably should become viable marketing tools for you. However, email is still going to be one of the best, cheapest, most effective ways to reach your customers.

Restaurant Marketing Lie #3: Teenagers don’t do email

I won’t spend much time on this one because it’s just laughable. As soon as today’s teens become tomorrow’s employees and business owners, they will start spending a lot more time in their Inbox and a less time in their Facebook. Just give them time.

 

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.

Key Numbers To Watch In Your Restaurant Business

restaurant-businessTo build and maintain a successful restaurant business, you need to constantly keep your thumb on its pulse and know how fast its heart is beating. You need to be checking the key numbers.

Obviously, your cash registers and your accounting system will provide you with some very important information. That’s the good news. The bad news is, knowing how you did last week or last month may not be a very good indicator of where your restaurant sales will be next week or next month.

Any type of financial data that you can get from the accounting system is known as “lagging” indicators. These indicators tell you what happened. They won’t tell you much about what is about to happen. However, they are still important.

Here are the most important numbers you need to monitor:

  • Weekly sales, total per week/day and also by the hour (you can then create a simple Excel chart and see weekly and daily peaks and valley and also be able to identify over-staffing & capacity issues)
  • Weekly profit (Many restaurant owners mistaken “gross” for “net” and assume that the more gross you have the more money you make. Well, as the song goes, “it ain’t necessarily so.”)
  • Weekly payroll
  • Product group contributions (the percentages of your total sales attributed to drinks, entrees, appetizers, and desserts)

If you manage your restaurant business by relying just on the lagging indicators, you could be looking for trouble. It’s akin to driving a car by looking in the rear mirror all the time.

If you want to have a way of predicting how your restaurant business is going to do in the near future, you need to implement and track a few “leading” indicators.

  • The total number of VIP Club members
  • The number of new VIP Club members added to the list over the last period
  • The number of Birthday Club members on the list
  • The number of catering sales calls made (if you do catering)

Some of the leading indicators are much harder to measure. They tend to be “soft” and qualitative, rather than “hard” and quantitative like the lagging indicators. After all, how do you measure the morale of your staff and how much they enjoy working at your restaurant? How can you confidently know that this week they were greeting guests more cheerfully than a week ago?

Well, these are certainly harder but not impossible to measure:

  • You can use comment cards and evaluation forms that customers fill out at the request of your staff.
  • You can hire a mystery shopping company or — better yet — turn you best customers into mystery shoppers.
  • You can talk to the staff regularly and fill out a simple form at the end of the day, and then tabulate the results weekly and monthly.

There you have it.

Now, let’s get to work and start keeping track of the important things in your business.

The list of indicators above is very short. However, if you implement just half of these indicators in your restaurant business and consistently track them, you will be in the top 5% of the most successful restaurants.

Obama, Restaurant Sales, And Change

obamaOn Tuesday, as soon as we wrapped up the second day of the Restaurant Profit Bootcamp in Austin, TX, restaurant owners and managers in attendance had left the building to join millions of Americans at the voting poles. That night, Sen. Barack Hussein Obama emerged as a winner of the big race by promising to bring about the change.

The change is sure needed.

Yet when it comes to your restaurant business, it is not to come from the White House. It is irresponsible and even juvenile to expect an external force to bring the change unto your business. To give you something that is yours to create.

The change is not going to just “happen”.

The change will be a result of each business’ meticulous, deliberate and bold action taken to make that business better every day.

By selling one more plate.

By adding one more customer to the database.

By knocking on one more door and introducing themselves to one more family in the community or one more business in the neighborhood.

By making one more marketing campaign pay for itself and then some.

By making one more birthday party super-special.

By training one more server to be observant and forthcoming.

By making their kitchen another notch more efficient.

By making their menu another notch more effective.

By making their restrooms another notch cleaner.

By giving a chance of a minimum-wage job to a kid so he could prove the world has given up on him too soon.

By knocking one more customer’s socks off and making their day.

Which is pretty much the list of things the attendees of our Bootcamp came to learn, to share, and to embrace. And now they are back in their restaurants, making the change happen.

And I salute them for that.