New and returning visitors alike determine a restaurant or bar’s longevity. You might have the best crab cakes in town, but if no one is ordering them, then you have a real problem. If you know how to find new customers, you’ll build a thriving, steady business. Start attracting more customers with these eight ideas.
Host Special Events to Bring New Customers to Your Restaurant
Hosting a special event at your restaurant or bar is one of the fastest ways to build buzz and bring in new customers.
Host a Fundraiser
Hosting a fundraiser takes organization and dedication, but it can yield tremendous results. Honor a charity, local sports team, or school with a community-oriented fundraiser, and your restaurant will fill up with new customers. To stand out, take the time to get to know the tastes of the group you’ll be hosting, and tailor a menu to their night.Host a Wine or Beer Tasting
For local residents who are seeking new activities and ways of meeting people, a wine or beer tasting will be an attractive option. Feature your own brews or bottles for the tasting, and market the event with flyers around town and, of course, your social media.
This is an excellent opportunity to get to know your local wineries or distilleries better. Host a special tasting night during which guests can chat with an expert while trying a selection of glasses.
Host a Food and Wine Pairing
This is one of the most fun ways to try out new dishes that you’re thinking of adding to your menu. Mix your crowd-pleasing menu favorites with new recipes, and pair dishes with wines you sell by the bottle. Build a story around the event by selling tickets to get people in the door; social sharing will then take over. Customers will be encouraged to come back and not just order your food, but order a bottle of wine too. If you’re new to wine and food pairings, check out this unintimidating introductory guide here.
Host a Themed Night
Give people something to look forward to by transporting them to another world. If you’re an Italian restaurant, dedicate one night a week to the cooking styles of one region or city, like Tuscany or Venice. You can even use themed nights to promote new ingredients or new liquors. Start a “Havana Nights” night to introduce customers to a new rum, offering drink specials of Cuban-inspired cocktails. Guests will love the change of routine, and they’ll flock to your doors.
Other Ways of Getting New Customers
Hosting events is just one way of getting new guests. Liven things up even more with these suggestions.
Bring in Live Music
The power of ambience is incomparable, and music plays a major role in that power. Just as a spa plays relaxing sounds to soothe its clients, your restaurant can use music to make sure customers are having a great time. Jazz, rock ’n roll, and Latin guitar are genres that are enjoyed across generations. If you want to host nights with specific crowds, dig into the music scene of your target demographic, and schedule a live music night with an artist of that music style. Crowds will be rushing the door for a good time!
Turn Your Slow Nights into Your Packed Nights
Slow nights tend to be the death of restaurants. Your staff is grumpy that they’re scheduled, you're barely turning a profit, and guests don’t have a good time sitting alone. Turn your slow nights into the opposite by setting up specials. Make your version of $2 Taco Tuesday. The trick is to offer delicious food that doesn’t cost too much to produce, and mark down the prices dramatically. With good music and good prices, you can bet the crowds will only grow as guests tell their friends about these special deals.
Set Up a Birthday Program
Setting up a restaurant birthday program is the easiest thing to do. Start collecting emails and birthday information from your guests with the check. A couple of weeks before a birthday, send the guest an email with a birthday card from your restaurant—and a special birthday discount. Everyone loves being congratulated on their birthday. Even if they don’t make it in time to celebrate, guests will remember you as the restaurant that cared. They’ll return before long.
Create Photo Opportunities
Instagram is a huge asset to any business, restaurants and bars especially. Diners under 35 are using Instagram to learn about new places to go. Take advantage of this interest. Start looking at the design of your restaurant, and find ways to make attractive settings or motifs that customers will want to photograph, like this one. The more your guests take pictures in your location and tag your social media handle, the more attention you’ll start getting.