Looking for low-budget ideas to promote your restaurant? Are you struggling to attract customers and want unique and creative ways to advertise your business without spending much money? If so, you’re in the right place.
Fast, productive and free. These are the three key ingredients that go into the recipe that will make your restaurant unique. Having this recipe can enable any restaurant owner to cook up a remarkable and 👉profitable marketing plan.
Unfortunately, the “free” ingredient isn’t always in season, but you can still make remarkable progress despite the lack of advertising money. Today the internet provides a great and costless way to promote your restaurant and win over new customers at the same time. You have many useful and helpful sites such as Facebook, Twitter, and a host of others.
Of course, money can go a long way toward advertising and promoting your restaurant, but there are many affordable, creative tactics that allow you to attract new customer without spending a lot of money.
First of all, you’re going to need patience. You’re going to need a willingness to give yourself over to your establishment, and a willingness to spend what little extra money you can on promoting it. You’re not a magician using a crystal ball make your “fortune.”
You’re a restaurateur using a winning recipe that will enable you to offer up a dish that others don’t have. Now, all we ask is that you open your mind to new possibilities and be willing to put some real effort into putting these tips into practice.
Take a look at the math: If you’re a good restaurant owner or manager, you’ll want to be public relations oriented. That means you’ll probably meet at least five new people every week. Multiplied by fifty-two weeks in a year, you’ll meet around two hundred sixty new people a year!
Potentially, you could have around that many new customers each year. And these, in turn, might bring in dozens of their friends — friends they might bring into your restaurant, or at least give your restaurant a good report.
Let’s cut to the chase and take a look at the ways in which 🔥these ten strategies can promote your enterprise🔥 without your having to spend a lot of money.
Ten Great and Costless Ways to Promote Your Restaurant
1. Handshakes and Business Cards
Let’s repeat that what you need to incorporate into your strategy is patience (and plenty of it!). Remember the old adage: “Rome wasn’t built in a day.” Add to that, a few bucks and a willingness to do your job, and you’ll have the inspiration and magic ritual that can turn these tips into practice for a successful and profitable business.
A smile accompanied by a handshake, a few words and $10 could significantly increase your sales. So what are you waiting for?
Perhaps social networking on the internet has been helpful in getting people back to the more sociable atmosphere of yesteryear. In any case, shaking hands is a wonderful way to keep customers and get them to extol your business, (i.e. free advertising!).
It’s important for owners and/or managers and chefs as well as all others down to the last dishwasher to understand how to “schmooze.” We’ll get back to the internet in a moment.
Customers love to be recognized. Knowing that when they go to a certain restaurant the owner, or at least someone, will be there to greet them with a handshake. Few things are more satisfying to the average person than to be greeted with a handshake.
That warm handshake coming from the owner or manager, etc. makes any person feel more important. That can turn an ordinary meal into a real dining experience, especially when the guest has had a particularly difficult day in the workplace.
Handing out cards is another inexpensive way to promote your business. Having cards printed has never before been easier nor less expensive than they are today. If you can’t find the right price in your neighborhood, try the internet.
When people view you and perhaps even all your employees, as friends, you’re on the right track!
If you, as the owner can be there, you have a duty to get out onto the dining room floor and talk to people and to engage them in short but warm conversations.
Your role is not to lock yourself in your office and only emerge long enough to scold some waiter or another employee from time to time. Remember that you’re the establishment’s premier PR man or woman, not the general leading your troops into war.
We’ve all heard of Ray Kroc, founder of McDonald’s, or “Colonel” Harland Sanders, founder of KFC Chicken. In the early days, these men were right in there promoting. Some people still remember seeing Colonel Sanders pop into one of his operations, don an apron and get back in the kitchen to show employees how to do it right. Coming and going, these entrepreneurs knew how to schmooze and look at the world-wide legacies they left behind when they “moved on”.
You can entice guests to promote your business without ever asking. The French writer Albert Camus once wrote that charm is the ability to get something without having to ask. You too can charm guests into becoming promoters for your restaurant.
Now, that doesn’t mean you should “run at the mouth” and hold guests up. You don’t want their dinner to congeal while you chatter on. You just want to give them a warm but short greeting and move on to the next guests.
But it’s important to listen when they talk. And when you meet people outside your establishment, you can still schmooze while handing them a card and telling them just a little about your restaurant.
Perhaps even hand them a card promising that any dinner merits a free dessert. Or you can write on the back of the card giving it a more personal touch. Do as Don Corleone would say: “Make them an offer they can’t refuse.”
2. Check In and Enjoy
Here’s a marketing strategy that, unlike the previous methods exploits one of today’s more modern technologies. This is one of our favorites as a small investment allows you to promote your restaurant across Facebook dramatically.
Let’s do the math here. If you’re a good restaurant manager (and we know you are), remembering that American FB users have, on average, 350 friends. Now, imagine that five people check in daily at your business site and publish a post something like this:
Just multiplying five by the average number of friends these people have, you get a total of 1750. That means these visits could be seen by 1750 people daily. Now if you multiply this number by a 30-day month we’ll be talking some 52,500 potential viewers each month.
Eventually, within just one year some 630,000 people will have heard about your restaurant on FB via their friends.
But, you wonder; “How can I make customers visit my business?” Easy! Offer them something in return. One chain frequently sends out a coupon: Buy one lunch or dinner and get one free. Another, famous for its pies, offers a coupon for Free Pie Wednesdays.
You buy a sandwich or dinner and receive a slice of pie. Many McDonald’s offer free cups of coffee in the morning. Another restaurant cum bar offers “happy hours” with a dollar off on alcoholic beverages.
Even offering a free cup of coffee or a Coke can go a long way toward creating lasting friendships.
A small investment such as some of the above can bring a breathtaking advertising return. Give it some consideration.
3. Motivate your Staff
It’s hard to calculate the importance of the staff’s attitude and abilities. When your staff is doing its job with a contented smile and capable service your customers will not only appreciate it, but they’ll leave better tips as well.
But having a positive friendly attitude goes far beyond the servers. It’s likely that you’ve visited a restaurant or other enterprise where some if not all the staff displayed tension and malcontent.
It’s of vital importance that you 👉motivate your associates to such an extent that they can’t help but come to work with a big smile painted on their faces and every single one will be thinking: “I’m a lucky person to be able to work in the best restaurant in the world!‘ That applies not only to the cashiers and servers but to the chefs, kitchen helpers, dishwashers and everyone else employed in your establishment.
‼️And it’s important that smiles be real and contagious. You should make every effort to create a celestial atmosphere in your establishment. When guests leave your restaurant after having experienced such an atmosphere, they’ll tell others that the food is great and the associates are very kind. That can be repeated a thousand times!
Unfortunately, too many employers expect that playing the army drill sergeant will bring positive results. The only results this military regime delivers are discontented employees and frequent turnovers as employees seek better positions.
And that doesn’t help with customers either because just as a group begins to know and like a certain server, for instance, that person is replaced by a new, unknown server.
Bottom line here is that you don’t have to shell out a lot of loot to buy smiles. There are many, and often better, ways to do this. Just keep reading and we’ll try to inspire you to motivate your staff without investing money.
4. Google Maps
Some sort of crude maps began to appear during an early stage of humanity. At first, representations were engraved on perishable materials such as wood, bone and even skin. These usually lasted only for a short time, and too, they were often only intended for one journey.
Over the centuries humans had been improving their systems of mapping and this has continued right up through quite accurate, but heavy and unwieldy atlases. Now, with the internet, we’ve reached a new plateau in the realm of mapmaking.
Google and GPS proudly present Google Maps. For most parts of the world, Google will even turn a certain map indication into an actual photograph of the street and house or building you seek.
Have you ever wondered at man’s overriding interest in maps? From the very beginnings of earth time, men and later companies, have worked on systems of mapping, making it easier to get to a certain location. As far as companies are concerned, it’s only natural that they want to make it easy for potential buyers to locate their outlets. For us, as potential buyers, having an accurate map saves us time.
For example, no one wants to drive all over town looking for your restaurant. Without a map, your potential customer may start out, but with so many other restaurants popping up as your customer drives along, you can be sure that your restaurant will be forgotten.
People don’t want to play “Treasure Hunt.” They don’t want to waste time looking for something, especially when it’s so much easier to look at a Google Map.
That makes it easier for guests to arrive at your restaurant without the frustration of having to drive up and down a number of streets without being able to find what they’re looking for.
Today, for a trip to a bank, a department store or to your restaurant, they simply pull out their smartphones, open Google Maps where they’ll find not only a clear description, but easy directions to make it easy for them to get straight to their destination.
Bottom line here is that you should get your restaurant listed on Google Maps if you haven’t done it yet.
TripAdvisor is the largest travel community in the world with some 260 million visitors each month. The important thing for you to remember is that among those visitors, some 150 million have written reviews.
TripAdviser is not only the largest travel community but is probably the one most loved or hated by restaurateurs.
People who visit your restaurant are likely to use their smartphones to photograph the interior, photograph their table, etc. and later post pictures and reviews for everyone to see.
But the upside is that you have to make it easy for your guests to post wonderful reviews with photos to match. This can be one of your best advertising tools without spending extra money.
All you need to spend is extra care throughout your business. Just give your customers good food, good service, and a good price in a good location. That’s it!
How many times have you heard that FB is the place to promote your restaurant? Many times, of course. Chances are that you already have a FB page where you try to crank out photos of your fantastic food in pages that just don’t work well.
Posting your restaurant on FB sounds simple and easy enough, but in reality, a successful Facebook page requires some knowledge and experience. This is especially important when you decide to post paid ads. Once you’ve learned the ropes, however, your audience will have an open window allowing it to see your restaurant, see your outstanding food and even smell it!
If at all possible, you should entrust your restaurant page to a social media marketing expert. Of course, this could be costly. Since you’re trying to stay within a tight budget, you’ll have to go to Plan B. Plan B means that you can teach yourself a good deal about advertising and Facebook as well.
There are a probably a thousand books and courses available that can teach you the best ways to market your establishment. Just start with a course for beginners and take it from there. Once you’ve armed yourself with patience and perseverance, you can achieve amazing and surprising results.
7. The Rule of Reciprocity
Since our childhood, we’ve been taught to return favors. At Christmastime for example, I give you a present and you give me a present. It’s that simple. After all, when someone gives you a present or anything else, you surely feel the need to reciprocate.
Here’s a real-life example, one that offers an extremely effective way to promote your restaurant: Street traders in Rome successfully exploit this technique on a daily basis. They daily haunt the main square in the city center which is always filled with tourists, visitors from all over the world.
As a target passes, a trader quickly and deftly lips a bracelet on the “mark’s” arm, or some other small item. The trader assures the mark that the item is a gift. The trader doesn’t want any money. The unfortunate tourist now has something that hasn’t been paid for and naturally feels guilty because of the rule of reciprocity and therefore insists that the trader accept some money.
You may ask how this technique would work for you in your restaurant. Well, you can equip your restaurant with some sort of gadget to be given to your customers along with their checks. Along with this, ask the guest to leave a nice review on TripAdviser or Facebook.
As we mentioned earlier, this can contribute to spreading your name across social networks in an efficient and inexpensive manner. With your name or logo on the gadgets, your brand can travel a long way.
8. Keep Waiting Customers From Leaving
How many times have you suffered the frustration of watching potential customers walk across the street to another restaurant because of having to wait too long for a table? Any restaurant owner understands the helpless feeling of powerlessness.
But there’s an easy way today to keep people waiting while at the same time, promoting your restaurant by providing guests with pagers. With a pager in hand, customers can go anywhere within reason. Guests may want to window-shop in nearby stores or have a drink across the street at a little bar. Then, when their table is ready the pager will alert them.
This can help increase customer loyalty and spread word of mouth. In addition to the pager, you can attach a sticker with a QR code that will take guests to your website where they may find your latest promotions. Pagers are an expense well worth their cost and well worth your consideration.
And now we present His Majesty: the menu. Yes, your menu is the king of restaurant promotion. Of all the ways to promote your restaurant, the menu is perhaps the most important of all. This merits all your work, thought and consideration.
In your establishment, everything revolves around your menu. Your menu can allow you to sell the unsellable and enhance sales of your best dishes.
Many factors come into play when you consider the design of an effective and attractive menu. I’m listing the top twenty things to take into consideration you create or overhaul your menu.
10. VIP Cards
Are large office buildings nearby? How about banks, factories, shopping malls or supermarkets? Any and all of these represent a gold mine in employees. You can create a VIP card giving them a special discount, something reserved for them alone.
For example, they might receive a 30% discount for lunch during certain days and/or hours. Or their card might entitle them to a complete dinner with starter, main course and a soft drink for an attractive price.
Such an offering will guarantee loyal workers who bring you a constant source of revenue at lunchtime.
If you have questions, please drop a comment below, and we will surely follow it up.