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Can Technology Help Bring New Customers into My Restaurant?

Wouldn’t it be just hysterical if my answer was, “Of course not?”

Sorry to be so not funny. The answer is (drum roll) ABSOLUTELY, and more economically, effectively and efficiently than any other solution out there! I have spoken many times, as you know, about how technology can keep regulars coming back: frequency programs, loyalty clubs, rewards, gift card promotions, on line ordering, etc (need a copy of some of these articles? Email me and I will forward them to you or go to foodservicemonthly.com and search for Pertman). But how about getting new customers? That may not be the name of the game, but it is at least the nickname.

So how do I get new people, or people who are already people, but have never been to your restaurant before … to come in and experience your absolutely wonderful restaurant?

1, 2, 3, 4 and 5: Website, Website, Website and Website. Did I mention Website? Make no mistake, this is the way of the world. If you do not think so, then you are not out of this world, that would be good, you are just out of touch, out of IT, and soon to be out of money. Do not do INVEST in a good website. INVEST in a GREAT website, and it will pay you back in droves. Not that I know what a drove is, but it absolutely will. Make it easy to maneuver, load it with beautiful pictures of your beautiful food. Make it interesting, with your wonderful stories of your wonderful history and your wonderful chef and servers, and VOILA! Customers, customers and customers. Take good care of them and then reward them with gift cards, loyalty programs, and maybe a hat or a T-shirt after they dropped a bundle in their new favorite restaurant!

6: You need to attract younger diners, right? There is one rock solid way (OK, it is many rock solid ways) to attract the next generation of customer (one more drum roll, Mitch), and that involves … TECHNOLOGY! Younger diners and prospective diners LOVE technology! They love the Internet, they love their iPhone, their Android, their gadgets and their texts. You may not like it, you may not do it, you may actually preach against it, but no matter what, EMBRACE it and lure them in. Their credit cards and money smell as good, spend as well, and accumulate as well, and they will be around a whole lot longer than your well behaved, non-texting grey haired counterparts you embrace right now.

7. You need to get people in the door: you do the Groupon, Valpak, Penny Saver and once in a while you barter with the local radio station for your annual semi-successful blitz during the morning drive. How many new guests are you getting? Who the heck knows? You know for sure that those coupons are cheapening your product and giving your already regular customers, regular unnecessary discounts, right? So, why are you NOT using free, and much more effective social media? Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, etc. etc. etc. are there for you to grab, embrace, utilize and help you, YES! Get new customers in your door. Ignorance is not bliss, it is just ignorance, and THAT, my friends is very, very expensive.

As always, I am happy to help in any way I can, with these or with more personalized ideas. Reach out and touch somebody’s hand. Mine or Facebook’s. Or in the words of the immortal Mikey the Nike, JUST DO IT!

About the Author

Henry Pertman is Director, Hospitality Consulting at CohnReznick, located in the firm’s Baltimore, Md. office. He can be contacted at 410-783-4900 or henry.pertman@cohnreznick.com.

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