7 Ways to Attract New Customers to Your Restaurant

get new customers to your restaurant

Posted: Mar. 26, 2019

Reaching a new audience takes patience and a substantial strategy. Make a presence where your desired clientele is—like music concerts or Snapchat—and you are half-way to getting their attention. There are other ways to attract new clientele; check out how to get new customers to your restaurant below.

1. Take Professional Photos of Your Restaurant and Food

It’s a common mistake: Restaurants have terrible photos on their site’s gallery. For your loyal patrons, how your restaurant and food looks are irrelevant—they know it already! For new customers, on the other hand, the first impression matters. If the photos on your website are outdated, have dark lighting, or are just not good, hire a professional photographer to take photos of your restaurant that show off its special qualities—like cozy seating or the long bar—and of your food. As soon as they are ready, upload them to your website.

2. Partner with Complementary Foodservice Operators

This tactic is more for specialty foodservice operators than a full-service restaurant or bar:

  • Bakeries—Talk to local cafés about using your bread exclusively for their sandwiches.
  • Ice cream shops—Connect with restaurants to sell your gourmet ice cream for dessert.
  • Microbreweries—Work on getting your beer into all the locals’ favorite restaurants and bars.
  • Coffee shops—If you also have a coffee brand, sell to restaurants, bars, shops, and locally-owned grocery stores.

Making these strategic partnerships is just the first step. In your contract, make it a stipulation that your brand name is mentioned on the menu description, or that your brand is prominently displayed on the product. (For example, affix the wrapping around the coffee shop sandwich with a sticker that has your bakery’s name written on it).

3. Sell Gift Cards

Restaurant gift cards are a terrific way to get new customers. Let customers know that gift cards are available for purchase on the first page of the menu, and for added value, offer themed gift card designs, such as:

  • Happy Birthday!
  • Thank you!
  • Congratulations!

Because they’re the perfect gift for colleagues, family, and friends, your loyal patrons will be thrilled to have an appropriate gift for any occasion.

4. Be Present on the Same Online Forums that Your Customers Use

Online platforms attract different kinds of customers. Consider the audience you want to attract and be active online where they are active. See below:

  • Tripadvisor for targeting tourists; this restaurant in Washington D.C. had huge success.
  • Instagram for attracting anyone from their twenties to their early forties.
  • Facebook for a clientele between 45 and 65.
  • Snapchat for the younger generation, from 16 to 22. (Watch out for how time-consuming Snapchat can be.)

Having a ton of followers isn’t the goal here; trying to amass a huge following will just lead to headaches. Instead, save your time and energy by focusing on building a strong brand image. Today’s consumer is checking your website and your social presence, especially when it comes to Instagram, so a cohesive page that shows off your menu options, shares party information, and updates specials is going to attract interested parties. Think of your online presence as a secondary website.

Lavu Pro Tip: To create excellent content for Instagram, leave a smartphone in the kitchen. The BOH staff can take photos whenever something gorgeous was just cooked up, and build a library of authentic images organically. 

5. Schedule Live Music

Live music is going to attract crowds every time. Schedule a band or musician on busy weekend nights to build the buzz, and then schedule acts on your slowest night of the week. This will have customers talking about your restaurant and through word-of-mouth, the live music will start drawing in both new customers and regulars.

6. Pop Up at the Right Events

Since 2016, we’ve predicted that pop-ups are more than a fad. Consumers love a surprise element, and food vendors showing up in unexpected places will never go out of style. Depending on your restaurant’s food type and clientele, partner with events that draw in the same type of customer you want. For example, if you own a bar that makes CBD-infused cocktails, partner with a music festival or concert hall. If your location is in a business district, see how to be a vendor for an upcoming conference or trade show.

At your next staff meeting, involve your team and brainstorm events that are strategic for your business.

7. Offer Significant Discounts via Email

Restaurants like Brazilian steakhouse Texas de Brazil have a robust email campaign that brings customers back and draws new guests in. In addition to offering a significant discount to first-time customers, they email customers on their birthday with another great discount that’s valid for several weeks. This email strategy is easy to replicate; start taking emails on your website and start emailing people right away.

Not all new guests need to dine in. If you haven’t already, integrate online ordering for food delivery on your website to draw in a new group of customers.



Posted: Mar. 26, 2019 | Written By: Emma Alois


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