Restaurants Are an Unpredictable Business
The hurdles you must jump to achieve success are broad and overwhelming at times. From the local restaurant competition to reputation, customer service to food quality, and even the weather. Getting customers through the door of your restaurant is one of the challenges you face – not to mention return customers and developing loyalty. So how can you compete when your budget is planned around just running the business, and not marketing it? One of the most affordable choices you have is SMS (text message marketing).
3 Keys to Success for Restaurants to Use SMS
On a regular basis, a restaurant owner is likely to be thinking about at least one of these business issues: increasing revenue, reducing costs and improving the company operations and culture. SMS (text messages) can be used to support these restaurant business issues.
1.Loyalty and Promotions
The first step is gaining SMS subscribers through texting in or a web form*. In-store promotions are often the most effective means of driving customers to opt-in and join your SMS Loyalty program.
Print posters, window stickers, table tents – or whatever else you usually have out in the restaurant to communicate with customers – and include a short code (shortened phone number) and keyword with a tempting incentive. A&W Restaurants chose to offer a Free Burger, with some clever stipulations attached to prevent abuse or fraud.
Once a customer has join your SMS loyalty or rewards program, you can do several things to drive further revenue. Ask some questions about food preferences. Send limited time special offers, holiday discounts, and promote your existing offers like happy hour. Announce events, such as live music or special football game watching parties.
>Keep in mind the frequency of messages – sending too many can cause customers to opt-out and possibly be turned off by the over-communication.
>Ask questions that you can use to send targeted text messages later. For example, ask about the kinds of updates the customer wants to receive – special offers, events, new menu items, or all of it.
The old method of collecting feedback on a printed card or receipt has been replaced with a website link, but that is not always so simple. What happens when the customer loses the receipt or just forgets to complete the survey?
SMS addresses the immediacy issue. Being able to text in and reply to a few questions within a few minutes (often while still in the restaurant) will increase your response rates. You can ask the questions completely through texting or send the customer to a mobile website with the feedback survey. And if you are asking the right questions, then you may be able to reduce costs on broken procedures or unpopular menu items.
3. Internal Operations
When it isn’t food or atmosphere being improved, the restaurant staff and their procedures are the next most important to be worked on. Improving restaurant operations and communications allows business owners to reduce costs and improve the culture of the business. This ranges from hiring employees to managing deliveries, internal communications to optimizing menu mix, and improving the overall dining experience.
“Employees use messaging to broadcast alerts, such as when a toxic spill occurs on the worksite or information technology systems are down. Employees text to schedule last-minute meetings or announce date and time changes of events. Employees working off site can give a supervisor or co-worker instant updates on a remote project. And an employee can send a critical message to a supervisor who’s tied up in a meeting without disruption.” (Houston Chronicle)
When restaurants use SMS in the right context, they create a more attractive situation for customers to participate. Customers can derive more value from the instant and accessible channel of SMS, which will often drive them to return to a restaurant.
How is your restaurant using SMS text messaging to grow and retain customers? What mobile marketing strategies have worked best for you? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.
*Be aware of SMS compliance rules about opt-ins