Tag Archives: restaurant marketing

What’s on your customers’ WINE list**?

Knowing more about your ideal customers, what they want and what you can offer to meet these wants means that:

  • You can make sure you target all your benefits at your customers
  • All your marketing messages address problems you know your customers would like to have solved
  • Your prices are right for your target customers as they perceive they are getting good value for money
  • Your service is of (or above) the standard your customers expect
  • You can offer packages and incentives that relate to your customers’ attitudes and interests
  • You can set your USP (unique selling proposition) to appeal directly to your target market – either creating an affinity with them or demonstrating that you know exactly what they want
  • You can position your ‘brand’ correctly, so that it appeals to your customers. I use the term brand loosely to cover your whole image, and what you represent to your customers, the way your staff interact with customers, and the way you communicate.

You need to have an image of your ideal customers in mind every time you start any activity for your business. It helps to create a mental picture of your customer and visualise him or her on the receiving end of your services, products or offer or responding to any of your marketing.

Whichever category it is, be very clear about who your customers are. The more specific your niche the easier it is to appeal to what they want and to attract their attention.

 

Understand your customers’ WINE list **

Years ago I was introduced to the concept of the customers’ WINE list ** copyright Thameside International. You will never be able to serve or market effectively to your customers unless you really understand their WINE list**. WINE stands for:

  Wants

  Interests

  Needs

  Expectations

Look at everything from your customers’ perspective. The more you know and understand the easier it will be to meet their expectations, give them exactly what they want to win new business as well as create repeat and referral business.

There’s a difference between what people need and what they want. The best way to illustrate this is to think of what happens when you go shopping. What you might actually need is a pair of comfortable hard wearing shoes that you can wear every day for work. However what you want is something that is stylish, and maybe a little unusual, and you end up buying something that is anything but the sensible shoes you set out to buy! Or how often have you come home from a supermarket shopping trip with far more than you intended buy? We might only need something for dinner, but it’s very easy to get tempted by some other things which when we see them we want them, and are often prepared to pay a premium. Think how often you come home with chocolate biscuits, a nice bottle of wine or flowers, none of which you intended to buy. Or you succumb to a special offer on something you wouldn’t normally buy because the offer is so good it tempts you to give it a try.

Don’t assume that you know what they want; your customers’ wants, interests, needs and expectations may be very different from your own.

Determine what your customers want and are looking for when they come to you. What are their likes and dislikes, and other factors that may subconsciously determine their decision? Things such as comfort, the setting, feeling that they have something in common with other guests or staff.

Identify your customers’ highest priorities. What are the things they are particularly looking for and might therefore be prepared to pay a premium? What criteria do they use to assess these? For example, if value for money is important, what factors do they consider when determining value for money? The better you understand these the easier it will be for you to get their attention?

Understanding what’s of interest to your target audience is a great way to not only get their attention but also to build rapport.  Even if they are not looking out specifically for something that appeals to their interests, if you can offer it, you’ll get them hooked. E.g. if you’re an outdoor attraction and people come to you to expel energy and get some exercise (what they want), if you’re able to talk about or show them something that’s of interest (e.g. wildlife or something educational for the children) that’s an added bonus. Understanding people’s interests may help identify areas where they are willing to spend a little extra.

Needs might not be specified or consciously considered but might be a pre requisite, such as be location or facilities. So with a hotel for example someone might only need a roof over their head, a bed, shower and a meal, within a specific budget, but they want an experience, to relax, feel pampered, to have beautiful surroundings, entertainment, etc.

Expectations are seldom stated as there’s almost an assumption that these will be delivered, and might only be highlighted if they are absent. Such things as safety, cleanliness, good service, being appreciated, or consistency only come to a customer’s attention when they are lacking.

Bear in mind that your different customer groups may have very different WINE lists; there may be a few shared requirements, but by analysing what each of your different groups are looking for you can then target your offer, messages and service accordingly.

And – if you really want to understand your customers – you must ask them. Even if you’ve been running your business for a long time bear in mind that your customers’ expectations change which means you could find yourself being left behind. So never stop asking questions and listening to feedback from your customers to fully understand what’s important to them, what they need and what they want.

Customer satisfaction starts with knowing their wants, their interests, their needs and their expectations. Understand these and you’re well on the way to being able to capture the attention of your customers over and above that of your competition.

Exceed these and you’re on track for increasing customer spend, getting repeat business and developing long term loyalty.

** The WINE list is copyright to Thameside International. Special thanks to Thameside for allowing me to use this term


Are you wasting sales opportunities in your restaurant or pub?

Are you wasting sales opportunities in your restaurant or pub?

Yesterday I went to wave on the Olympic Torch as it passed us by in our nearby town. After parking a good 20 minutes walk away and standing in the rain for 20 minutes I was certainly ready for a cup of coffee, as I’m sure were many others.

I knew I’d be passing a pub restaurant on the way back to the car, along with another 200 or so people who’d parked in the same street. So that meant 200 or so cold, thirsty and wet customers.

And guess what?

The pub was closed. What a waste!

Here they had a captive audience, and completely gone to waste. And the next thing is they’ll be moaning about lack of business. Surely for that number of people it was worth opening 30 minutes earlier and making a song and dance about it. After all we all had to walk past on our way to the procession. Juat a little bit of restaurant marketing could have gone a long way.

Even with passing trade there was a great opportunity to drum up business.

What could they have done?

Here are 7 ideas to get some sales:

  1. Took account of the weather and how people would be feeling on the day
  2. Put up a welcome board or sign to attract attention
  3. Organised take away coffee for people en route to the procession
  4. Put together a bundled offer – e.g. coffee and Danish or hot food to give value for money and upsell opportunity (win-win)
  5. Joined the other businesses who got press coverage of what they were doing to celebrate (and get on the radar of visitors for potential further business; another win-win)
  6. Contacted their regulars and existing customers to let them know what they had on offer (easy if you have a mailing list)
  7. Bothered to open the doors!

I know it’s not rocket science……

For more articles and resources https://www.naturallyloyal.com/products-resources/

 


Keep in touch with your customers

Have you ever heard yourself saying ‘Keep in touch’? When we leave a job, or made friends on holiday we often come out with a remark such as this, whilst at the back of our mind thinking we are unlikely to see or speak to these people ever again.

But can we afford to do this when it comes to our valued restaurant customers? We’ve worked so hard to get them in the first place, so surely we want to do everything we can to get them back. Simply saying ‘I hope to see you again soon’ is not enough. Hoping or wishing them to return needs some action on our part to make it a reality.

Yesterday we talked about how to build your list, so don’t waste that valuable database by doing nothing with it.

Keeping in touch is a great way to continue to build the relationship with your restaurant customers and keep you in their mind when the time comes for a return visit or when asked to make a recommendation.

How you keep in touch will be dependent on the type of business you have, and the messages you want to convey. Obviously email is the cheapest and easiest option. But if you have an audience who are less IT savvy (someone like my father comes to mind, who would never even had a computer, let alone an email address) then a physical mailing or phone call may be a better option. And let’s be honest here, how many emails get deleted before even being opened these days, so it’s not always the most reliable format. A hard copy mailing with a hand written envelope, a small gift, or something quirky will often get someone’s attention far more effectively than 10 emails.

Irrespective of the format the important thing is to keep in touch. And not just to bombard people with offers that they are not interested in.

Tomorrow we’ll talk about how to use your customer contact list for existing customers.


Who are your salesmen (and women)? Part 4

Today is about rounding up all that has been discussed this week on finding your salesmen and women.

Give guidance, incentives and recognition

Don’t assume because you’ve told people how to do something they will be able to just go out and deliver it consistently. Observe how your staff handle the sales or upselling conversation and give them feedback after the event on what they did well, what they could do more of, and give the appropriate support and guidance on areas where they need more help.

Link your upselling activity to some goals.  This might simply be a target to sell x number of a certain product or service, or may be linked to specific financial profit targets.  Whatever goals you set ensure these are clearly measurable and achievable, that any incentive is equitable so everyone is motivated to contribute, and that you give regular updates on progress.

Recognise and reward those that do it well, to encourage them to continue to do so. And ensure everyone knows they all have a role to play in sales


Start planning next Christmas now

Your restaurant or hotel marketing for next Christmas is probably the last thing on your mind. But now is a great time to be building up material to use for next year.  What better way to promote your Christmas parties than to show people having fun, and your hotel or restaurant in all its Christmas splendour?

Take photos of the bar, restaurant and reception while the decorations and Christmas tree are looking their best – don’t leave it until half the needles have dropped off, or the light bulbs have gone out! Take shots from different angles of the restaurant laid up for dinner. ‘Snap shots’ may be OK as small images for your website, but if want to use these as bigger images, or for printed material, use a professional photographer to take some quality pictures. And include some pictures of the food. Although this is easier to ‘stage’ at a later date, if you can get some shots now, so much the better.

Get some video footage of parties – best when guests have just arrived, and had time to relax with their first drink, but don’t leave it until the tables are strewn with empty glasses. Always check with guests that they are happy for you to record, and secondly for the footage to appear on your site. Ask people for testimonials that they would be happy for you to use in next year’s marketing.

Keep an eye out for a clear, frosty morning and get outside with your camera to take some shots of a wintery scene.

Keep tabs on your costs throughout to ensure you have an accurate picture of your profit margins.  This includes post costing for each event, to take account of wastage.

Take stock at the end of the season, and learn from your successes and failures to build on this for next year. Get feedback from your team, and involve them in the review process by asking for their ideas. Then make sure you record all this where you can find it easily when it comes to planning next year!

Here’s to a very successful and profitable Christmas season.


How to Reward Referrals for your Hotel or Restaurant

As an absolute minimum, ensure that you thank anyone who makes referrals for your hotel or restaurant to encourage them to continue to do so in future. Don’t wait to see if this actually leads to business, as what you are looking to reward is the referral process. The more referrals you have the greater the likelihood of gaining new guests.

Consider what other tangible incentives you might give that are of high value to the person making the referral, but don’t cost you the earth. Naturally you’ll want to ensure that the cost of the incentive does not outweigh the life time value of the referral.  But bear in mind what you give as a thank you may also be a way of adding to the life time value of the person making the referral too.

The nature of this incentive will obviously depend on where the referral came from.

For hotel guests or restaurant customers they might include such things as a gift, discount off their next meal, a room upgrade, an invitation to an exclusive event. Perhaps team up with one of your joint venture partners; this could be services or maybe branded products. A win–win–win for you, your joint venture partner and the customer.

For corporate users make the incentive something your guest can benefit from personally. It’s little incentive for them if it is something they’d normally put though business expenses. So can you offer something as a thank you which will encourage them to come back on a personal visit and maybe bring their family and friends too?

For suppliers, joint venture partners or other local businesses you may want to look at alternate ways to say thank you. This might be an opportunity to get in front of some of your other customers or guests through promotional activities or hosting joint special events. Talk to them directly to see how you can return the favour. Just by asking the question will in itself show you appreciate the referral.

Encourage your staff too to make referrals. Let them show they are proud of where they work. The reward obviously needs to reflect the value of the business; recommending your restaurant to a friend doesn’t warrant the same level of recognition as inviting a friend or relative for a wedding show round and subsequent wedding booking.

What might appeal to them may be dependent on the profile of your team. A cash bonus might work for some, but is soon forgotten whereas a couple of tickets for a show or concert, or a night in a sister hotel or meal with a JV partner will be far more memorable – and visible to other team members too to encourage the same from them.

Once you have a referral system in place, keep track of where and how you’re getting successful referrals. This will enable you to find out what works and what doesn’t, so you can continue to refine the process.

For more articles and resources https://www.naturallyloyal.com/products-resources/


Make the referral process easy for your hotel or restaurant customers

For hotel guests or restaurant diners the sooner you ask for referrals after they have stayed or visited, the better. This is the time they are likely to be most positive about what you delivered.

The way you ask for referrals is key. If you ask: “Do you know anyone who might be interested in receiving details of our promotions?” you are likely to get  “No” or at best “I’ll think about it.”

But if you ask a specific question, for example:

Who else do you know who is celebrating [their birthday, wedding anniversary, retirement …] in the next few months and may be interested in our [all-inclusive weekend breaks, wine promotion…]?

Creating a simple referral form that you include with the bill can encourage existing guests to make referrals. Make this prominent, and offer incentives for them to give you names.

Maintain relationships with your customers, even if the likelihood of more business with them is limited. They are more likely to refer you to friends, colleagues or others if they have had recent communication from you. Even if a guest only stays with you once they have a network of friends and colleagues who may also be your ideal guests. The lifetime value of one guest can be their connections to other guests, too.

On Monday we’ll go on to look at what you can do the reward those who give you referrals to encourage them to do it again, and again.

For more articles and resources https://www.naturallyloyal.com/products-resources/


How to encourage referrals

Yesterday I was asked what type of incentives hotels or restaurants can provide for loyal customers to encourage them to become ambassadors and drum up business for you. But before we cover that, let’s consider why and how you’d encourage this type of loyalty.

We all know of the importance of online reviews, but I’m not talking here about general comments open to anyone. And offering any incentive for positive reviews will soon get you into hot water with most of the online review sites.

I’m referring here to your regulars, those who are already loyal to you, and if given a little encouragement are happy to refer you to friends, family and colleagues.

Referrals are a great way to build your customer base – if a person comes to you as a result of a referral, you don’t need to go out and find them. This is a much easier way to market a hotel! The person who made the referral has already experienced what you offer and will do the selling for you.

Referrals build loyalty with the people who recommend you – they will want to be seen to stand by their referral by continuing to come to you themselves.

Give people a reason to talk about you

So how do you get people talking about you, and how do you get referrals? As I’ve stated before, they won’t say good things about you unless you meet and exceed their expectations. So first, do something exceptional.  Identify things that are of high value to your guests but low cost to you so you can give added value. Give people that reason to talk about you.

If you don’t ask you don’t get

But referrals won’t always happen unless you ask for them.

If you don’t ask you often don’t get. So don’t be afraid to ask people directly who else they know who may be interested in specific packages or services you offer.

The obvious people to ask for referrals are your existing guests. Focus on those guests or customers who are your ‘perfect guests’ as the people they refer will be a better match to your preferred type of guest.

Think about other people who know you well enough to recommend you. This might include colleagues, suppliers, local businesses, joint venture partners, your own team and others in your network.

This will be easier the better they know you and when they fully understand the extent of everything you offer. So let them experience this first hand. A prime example is your local tourist office – they won’t want to recommend you unless they’ve experience your hospitality first hand. The same goes for local businesses of joint venture partners, who may have customers needing a place to say. So invite them to a showcase event or to a more personalised invitation for dinner, overnight or event.

The same goes for your staff too, they need to experience what your guest experiences. When was the last time any of your team ate in your restaurant, slept in one of your beds, or was pampered in your spa?

Tomorrow we’ll look at how to make the referral process easy.

For more articles and resources https://www.naturallyloyal.com/products-resources/


Help guests find your hotel

Where is your hotel?

Last week I wrote about Google places, but it seems some restaurants or hotels haven’t yet mastered the concept of including a postcode or zip code.

Today I went to look up the location of the hotel where I had thought about staying to see how long it would take me to get there from home and how far it was from the venue I was going to visit. It seemed to list everything but the postcode, even down to having the grid reference coordinates for helicopters!

I looked on the homepage, under location, contact details, directions.

Everything but the postcode.

One simple little detail that could make all the difference between someone saying “yes this hotel is ideally situated” or left wondering whether your location is right for them and clicking away from your site to find somewhere else.

Knowing where you are has to be a fundamental part of the decision-making process to book or not to book, and therefore a part of your restaurant or hotel marketing message. If you want to increase your chances of getting more restaurant or hotel bookings make this information as easy as possible for your prospective customers and include on your restaurant or hotel website’s homepage.

Added to this, even if your customers know roughly where you are there’s a good chance they’re going to use their Sat Nav to find you, so make life easy. Better still put the postcode or Sat Nav coordinates and directions in your confirmation e-mail. But please check the Sat Nav coordinates are correct and don’t take your guests up the wrong road! If you know there can be some confusion pre warn guests and give them the coordinates for a key landmark where they need to make a turn and give directions form that point onwards.

It all adds up to a part of great customer service and contributes to the all-important first impression.

 

For more articles and resources https://www.naturallyloyal.com/products-resources/


Are you on Google Places?

Are you on the map yet?

Have you entered your hotel or restaurant onto Google places?

Increase your visibility by adding your details including a brief description of what you offer, a link to your website, photos and even videos. You can update it as often as you like. You can even adjust your location on the map if necessary, making it nice and easy for people to find you, and creating a great first impression.

It’s really easy to do; all you need is a Google account, and then set up your details and claim your spot! So when someone Googles hotels in X restaurants in Y you’re not only come up as a text listening, you will also be plotted on the map.

 

For more articles and resources https://www.naturallyloyal.com/products-resources/