Grow Your Restaurant Sales More by Doing Less Marketing
4 Steps To Stop Wasting Time And Grow Your Restaurant Sales.
Have you ever felt like you were doing a whole lot of marketing for your restaurant but not sure if any of it was actually working to grow your bottom line?
Having a strategic plan will help you get the maximum performance from your marketing. In auto racing, a driver needs focus and the discipline to slow down to keep the optimal line on the course. Slow down to go fast.
Most restaurant owners don’t have a problem coming up with ideas for growing their business. They usually have more ideas than they can execute. Often, they end up with a mashup of promotions with sporadic marketing support and hope they will grow sales. Sound familiar?
Well, you are not alone! Many of our clients struggle with wanting to jump past strategy strait to the ideas. As restaurant owners and entrepreneurs, we are action takers. But bypassing strategy is a mistake that almost always costs both time and money.
Too many good ideas can keep you from focusing on the great ideas that will transform your results.
The good news is that creating good strategy doesn’t have to be complicated. By following these 4 simple steps, you can create a road map to identify your destination and chart a path to help you stay on the right track:
Focused Restaurant Marketing Strategy: A Simple 4 Step Formula
Step 1 – Define your Biggest Opportunity
What is the one thing that would result in the biggest impact to your sales and profit? We call these items “levers” – because they can make the biggest impact on moving your business with less effort. At any one time, you need to limit your focus to 2 or 3 levers. Levers can focus on any number of objectives:
- Growing a day part (like lunch or dinner)
- Growing in a day of the week (is your problem mid-week?)
- Building a different access mode (catering, to go, delivery)
- Winning with a certain customer group (like families or millennials)
- Do you need more traffic or increased guest check?
Analyze your business data. Talk with your team. List your possible levers and assign a $ value to what the opportunity would be if you were to fix it. This is the most important step – to define your objective.
Case Study: One of our clients was growing business during breakfast and lunch but had declining sales overall because they had been slipping in the dinner day part. Since dinner was over 45% of revenue and 60% of profit, we knew that’s where we had to focus to get back on track. We were often on a wait Friday and Saturday night, so we decided that the place we could make the biggest impact was in growing weekday dinner.
Step 2 – Identify the Keystone Activities and Goals:
Keystone activities are the catalyst activities that get you to the result you need. For example, if your objective was increasing table turns, you might identify a keystone activity of improving ticket times. Keystone activities are the items to focus on that will create the change you need to see to achieve your objective.
Case Study: From their research and brand positioning, we know the customer base for weekday dinner was mostly seniors. We needed them to visit more often. But the primary barrier to more frequency was price. To be successful, we needed more frequency from this core customer group and they key to getting that was improving our perceived affordability.
Step 3 – Generate the Promotional Idea
Now that you have a focused objective and goal, s it is time to brainstorm marketing ideas and promotions. Unfortunately, many marketing agencies or restaurant owners jump strait to ideas. To use an old saying, it doesn’t matter if you’ve got a great ladder if you lean it up against the wrong wall!
Case Study: To encourage their senior base to visit more for dinner during the week, we created a $9.99 weekday dinner special with 4 smaller portion “trio’s” that we knew had high appeal to our older customers. By going with slightly smaller portions, we could afford to price $2-3 below the average entrée and still preserve our penny profit.
Step 4 – Create an Integrated Plan and Execute It
The final step is to create an integrated marketing plan that will work within your calendar and budget. Every restaurant has a limited number of messages that they can effectively communicate to their guests. Use your consumer touch points wisely. Also remember that the average person needs to be exposed to a message 6-8 times before it sinks in. Develop a plan across multiple touch points for at least 6-8 weeks. Don’t be too quick to switch out the core messages but have a plan to keep it fresh.
And be sure that you can execute the plan flawlessly – both in marketing and at the restaurant. The best marketing plan is worthless if the guest experience isn’t right.
Case Study: For the $9.99 Dinner Special, we started with a fully integrated marketing launch – including targeted mobile ads, social media, in-store, email, and direct mail. We did an initial 8-week launch, then refreshed the message periodically with 6-week campaigns every few months to create continuity. In between the integrated windows, we kept it top of mind with social media and in-store.
Now, Go Do Less!
Less is more. If you follow the 4 steps above, you will have a well- thought out strategy and growth plan. Combined with your 6-month Marketing Calendar, it will help you stay focused on the big things and saying no to the distractions. That will leave you with more time to run a great restaurant (or maybe have some free time to spare!)