April 23 2014 – Robert Fiumara
There's just something about restaurant week that really seems to work for dining establishments across the United States. The idea that businesses normally in competition can get together and offer delicious goods to the local community at lower prices seems like a way to lose money. However, at the end of the day, local restaurant weeks are just one way hungry customers connect with a new establishment.
Typically, many restaurants and restaurant staff dread restaurant week because the volume of new patrons, honoring restaurant week patrons alongside regular guests and the expense make participation seem like a waste of time. Is it really a waste?
Why Restaurant Week?
Unfortunately, many restaurants just don't know how to market themselves and have no understanding who their target customer should be in a community or how to reach those people, resulting in less business. The best way to game restaurant week is to identify the reasons your restaurant stands out in the community, make sure those reasons are loud and clear and present in your service during restaurant week and let diners know you care.
Making Yourself Loud and Clear
One of the best things about community engagement activities like restaurant week is an influx of new patrons. Many of these patrons may have read about you on Yelp, heard about you from friends or driven by your establishment, yet various reasons may keep them from going to your establishment for that first visit.
One of the best ways to understand your strengths and weaknesses so you can appropriately target your audience is to identify the reasons customers never come in for the first time. Is your restaurant simply too far away? Are there not enough deals or specials? Are you difficult to find, or are patrons likely to drive by your establishment and miss you entirely due to bad or dimly lit outdoor signage?
Don’t Think About It
When it comes to having an opportunity to engage with customers who might not normally come to your establishment, don’t guess. Ask restaurant week patrons why they haven't visited you before, and what you can do to make them come back. Visit tables, talk to people, and get a good idea of what would make your establishment stand out from the competition. Direct engagement with your audience will not only give you those answers, it will show your customers that you care about providing the best possible experience as well as great food and atmosphere.
For restaurant owners, restaurant week is a great opportunity to get yourself out there, learn more about your customer base and figure out how to provide a culture that will keep diners coming through your doors throughout the life of your establishment.