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4 Ways to Increase Foot Traffic to Your Restaurant

Updated: Nov 13, 2019

When people typically decide on where they want to eat, more times than not it isn’t a planned event or special occasion. People analyze their options and personal utility (time, effort, cost, quality, etc.) and make the best decision to match their needs in the moment. While all considerations don’t fall on a linear scale with all customers, it is important to understand all drivers in the decision making. Diners always consider exceptional service, delicious entrees, and an inviting atmosphere, however the importance of convenience and savings can be equally as valuable to the dining decision for any given customer.

These considerations are often consistently changing as well, which furthers the challenges restaurants face in attracting customers. It is estimated that nearly 1/3 of millennials decide on where to eat within around an hour beforehand with approximately 20% deciding even closer to that. Additionally, OpenTable states that 25% of their mobile bookings happen within 90 minutes of a seating. Much like all aspects of the modern world, diners are shortening the window of time between purchase decision and gratification. In a world of same-day shipping and having any book, song, or movie one click away, it only makes sense that dining choices follow a similar pattern of shortened time expectations.

So, how can you make sure your restaurant is talking to customers in the proper ways and the proper moments? These four strategies will help you think about the conversations you are having with your customers.


1. Reach Customers Right When They’re Hungry

Even with great marketing of your restaurant, people easily forget things that aren’t extremely important. What are you doing to ensure that your customers remember you when they are hungry and ready to find somewhere to eat? Being present at the moment the purchase decisions happen can validate all your previous marketing efforts and ultimately lead to a customer visit. The customer journey is rarely a one-step process in any industry and thus being present at various stages during the decision process is vital.

In the modern world, you are not only dealing with traditional competition, but the rise of delivery services has also complicated the process for attracting customers to walk through your doors. Convenience is now competition, and thus consistently providing consumer benefits will help your restaurant break thru and win with customers.


2. Monitor Your Star Rating

Did you know that your star rating on Yelp and Google can impact your restaurant's revenue? 86% of consumers read online reviews for local businesses, and 57% of them will only work with a local business with 4 or more stars.

It’s important to monitor your reputation review sites to respond to negative reviews and see what your customers are saying about your business. Additionally, by avoiding friction with your customers you can improve your star rating and make diners more likely to be evangelists for your restaurant. The customer experience (CX) is more important today due to reviews and user generated content than ever before, so providing ways to use this to work for you, rather than against you, is paramount. Stay tuned to our blog for more ways to use Forage to improve diner sentiment and reduce customer friction.


3. Get Creative

Getting involved with your community can increase your restaurant's brand recognition and create more sales opportunities. For this reason, try reaching out to local non-profit organizations and businesses to inquire if you can host an upcoming event for them.

For example, if a non-profit is throwing a community fundraising event for Thanksgiving, reach out and see if you could host the event. Doing this can get people in your restaurant. By finding ways to help your community and causes people care about can go a long way in improving your customer experience and restaurant brand.


4. Be Social on Social Media

When done right, social media can be a valuable tool for restaurants. However, you simply won't achieve much success by endlessly posting promotions on your feeds.

Keep the 80% of your social media content to be just that……content! Use advertisements and promotional partners for the “always on” promotion of coupons, discounts, and specials. Don’t lose the trust of your followers or the authenticity of your voice by consistently messaging bottom funnel activities. When in doubt, think of how you react to the brands you follow on social media. The best brand social media accounts are authentic to their brand voice and conversation with their followers, rather than hawking their products. Social media can lift your restaurant by understanding why people are on social media; which is for entertainment and engaging content, rather than to make purchase decisions.


Wrap Up

Ultimately, it takes creativity and an understanding of the customer journey to increase foot traffic to your restaurant in today's environment. Having a great menu often isn’t enough. While it may seem daunting, the tools are readily available and easy to implement. If used properly they can have a powerful influence in getting more customers and converting these customers to brand evangelists.

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