Posted by 2014-03-14 21:01:58
Title: Hello, I am the franchise owner and developer for one of the best known and well-liked restaurant...
Heath, you have a unique challenge as, looking at where your location is, you have an Earls, a well-known Canadian brand, located down the road from you. Here are some suggestions that may help you.
First, you should be allocating a percentage of revenues for marketing efforts, and suspect that you have tried a few things in the past. That should determine how much spend you will have, which will be important for you from a budgeting perspective. The marketing efforts in the US will be VERY different from what you should be doing as you really need to establish your brand, whereas the US operations will be looking at maintaining the brand.
Given the 5 years you have been in existence, you may have already collected some demographic data on your existing clientele through social media channels and/or overall observation of clientele. This should include not only age groups, but also information on families, business visitors, etc. and when they visit your restaurant.
Reaching out to them would be a key factor for you as you have an extremely warm contact, and you can send them targeted coupons to encourage them to come back, and do an upsell. On a limited budget, you can use the same upsell strategy to those in your immediate postal code area.
Let’s talk about the upsell coupon strategy.
What you would do is send some coupons just to the local area and previous customers for a selection of basic appetizers (those with a lower profit margin) as a loss leader. When they do come in, your staff should be ready to upsell the appetizer to another appetizer with a higher margin, or pair the coupon with a regular meal choice. You lose a bit of a margin on the basic appetizer, but you sell another appetizer or plate of food at a higher cost. More importantly, you may be bringing in people that have not visited your location before. Of course, you will get those who will just come in for the coupon, but you will attract the medium and higher spend customers as well, who will hopefully become repeat customers.
Once you are familiar with the demographic that patron your restaurant, you can also offer specific offers to encourage them to come back, such as free kids meal on Wednesdays (if that is a low day), Senior’s Day on Tuesdays for 10% the meal and/or half price appetizers during the business lunch hours.
Once you have the demographic in your area, then look at expanding the postal code area in a smart way. It makes no sense in expanding too far as there is no incentive for someone to drive for a long time to get to your restaurant unless you are a destination restaurant.
Of course, make sure you have the appropriate staffing levels when running these coupons as having people wait too long is a sure way to get them to stop coming.
One thing you should change is the ability to sign up for email offers. Right now, you are presuming people have a Facebook account to sign up, and do notice an alternate webpage you may have had in the past that looked simpler for me to sign up on your own website from a customer’s point of view. After I signed up for your email list, the link to redirect me back to the Chili’s page did not work after clicking on it a few times. The Facebook page is confusing, and getting to coupons is a bit cumbersome. I see some negative comments in your comment feed, and these HAVE to be answered as this is the information I am looking at before visiting your restaurant. Offer the person who had a bad experience a chance to try your restaurant again and comp a meal. I also received a complimentary tostada and chips for signing up. You thank me for signing up, but then you are forcing me to use the coupons within two weeks. Why the rush to get me to come in? Not very welcoming.
These are a few suggestions that you may want to do without breaking the bank. Do not do any larger advertising campaign as you do not have multiple locations yet. Be the best you can be with the service, and be creative, such as making a large announcement for any newcomers and have the staff say “Welcome” to Chili’s real loud. Do things differently from others. Give people a reason to come back that is different than just “good food” as one can get that same thing just down the road.
Hope that helps.