This week’s question comes from someone who manages a small restaurant in Los Angeles, CA. Typically, I only get questions from business owners themselves, so I’m pretty excited that the manager has taken the initiative and decided to take some issues into his own hands! Here’s his question:
“My name is Lucas. I manage a small ma and pa style restaurant in Los Angeles, CA. It used to be hard for us to compete with the big restaurant chains we are around, but we’ve been able to create our own ‘regulars’, who keep us pretty busy. My question is, how can we branch out and reach new customers? I know they say that longtime customers are more valuable than new customers, and I believe it. I’m grateful for our regulars, but I would like to help bring some new business through the door in this busy city.”
Lucas, I totally understand wanting to see some fresh faces and new business every now and then! That is always good for a growing business. As you mentioned, longtime customers are definitely more valuable to a business than new customers, but that doesn’t mean that you don’t want to see new business coming through the door. Not only that, but new customers are the first step to creating more of those long-time regulars!
Get Out There Online
I know this has been said time and time again, but it’s because it’s so important and valuable for a business. Make sure the restaurant is listed on Google, Facebook, Yelp, Instagram, Twitter, Bing, Yahoo and any other social media outlet or search engine you can think of. Nowadays, it’s almost impossible to find someone who isn’t a smartphone user, or who doesn’t find businesses to frequent by looking online. If you’re not online, you’ll never be able to compete with these big chains who have solid online presence. As the manager of your restaurant, you could create these listings yourself, or delegate it to an employee who you think knows the ins and outs of social media and online searching!
Advertise Your Expertise
I’m not sure what your restaurant is known for, but when it comes to advertising and trying to gain new business, don’t try to be modest! If you have the city’s best coffee, waffles, steak, or spaghetti, make it known! Advertise in your windows, online and on any signage you might have near the restaurant and let consumers know what they will be getting if they choose you. Especially in a place like Los Angeles, where you get lots of tourists and visitors, it’s the perfect opportunity to be their new favorite Los-Angeles-Specific restaurant. Give them a reason to come and try the place!
I’m sure this isn’t an issue at your restaurant, but often times it can be hard to keep employees peppy and willing to be customer-centered when they’re working at a busy place, with familiar faces. Consider training the other employees to treat their regulars like family, and their new customers the same. People will always remember a positive experience that made them feel good, and if you can provide that, and great food, you’ve got the perfect recipe for new business!
For more insights on marketing strategy that actually works for small business, subscribe to the FreshLime Newsletter here. Connect with Jay Bean, Founder of FreshLime and Small Business Marketing Expert on LinkedIn and Twitter. And last of all, if any of these tips have helped you or if you have anything to add please comment below. We’d love to hear from you!