Why You Shouldn’t Take Your Restaurant Marketing For Granted?


I cannot tell you how many times I have had to convince a restaurant owner that marketing is a normal part of business and just because he/she has opened their doors, doesn’t mean that anyone will come in.


You probably work within your four walls for anything up to 100 hours a week and consequently your world view becomes very narrow. Your restaurant consumes most of you waking hours, your thoughts and your energy, and it isn’t surprising that you lose touch with the realities of life for your customers and prospects.


You worry about bills, staffing, suppliers, empty seats, red tape, compliance, reviews, cleaning, repairs etc. Your customers are concerned about getting to work on time, their kid’s lunch, their partner’s health, their home loan repayments, their job security and so on. Your restaurant is nowhere near their radar! So just because you “built it” doesn’t mean they will come. You have to make them want to come by inviting them to do so. And you have to keep reminding them that you are there time and time again.


Let me tell you a little story about “inviting” someone to dine…

Years ago my wife and I were very good and regular customers at a local good quality restaurant. We went there as a couple, with friends and family, overseas visitors, and business colleagues. We spent a decent amount each time and from a dollar spend point of view, I would guess we were in their top 20% of clients.


After the birth of our daughter, we stopped dining out as a regularly, we didn’t have family close by and didn’t feel comfortable leaving the baby with a non-family member. So maybe two years went by without us visiting that restaurant.


One day my wife bumped into the woman who owned the restaurant, both of them were dropping children at the pre-school. The owner remarked that she hadn’t seen us in a while but suggested that we came tonight as they were starting a new spring menu.


We did go that evening and while the owner was serving our table, I asked if she wanted to know why we hadn’t visited for years. I could tell she thought that I was going to give her a really bad feedback about her food and service, but bravely said yes. “Simple, I said, you never invited us. Our lives got busy, we had a new baby and it was easier just to stay at home. However, the first time you invited us to dine, today, we came.”


I pointed out that she had our contact details, I had given them many times when booking, I had once filled out a competition entry form and had emailed them previously too, but they had never bothered to communicate with me and entice me to dine.


Even though she had seen that inviting us to dine had worked, I’m sad to say they never got into the habit of contacting their list. We received one or two shabbily put together emails but that soon stopped and they went back to “hoping” that people would remember them when they went out to dine.


Within the year, the restaurant changed hands and the owners moved away. I can’t say if they sold the customer list to the new owners as they haven’t contacted us either. They obviously believe in the Kevin Costner Myth too.


It’s Easy to Say That You Are Too Busy With Other Things.


This is a busy occupation there are thousands of jobs to be done and you can easily be swamped by them. However, whether you realize it or not, you do prioritize what you do. Imagine if you were doing the wages (which is an important job) and the phone rang, it’s a big wedding booking. Which job would your prioritize? Then a fire breaks out in the kitchen and people are screaming of your help, now what gets the priority?


Those are extreme examples but can you see you do prioritize. It’s just that 99% of the time you do it unconsciously and if marketing your restaurant is one of those things you don’t like, don’t trust and can’t get the hang of, it will always be way down the list priorities. It will always be the thing you don’t get round to because you are too busy doing other things.


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