4 Proven Ways To Fill Your Restaurant In 2013

Misty YoungAs a restaurant owner, your first daily concern is the quality of your food and service. Next, you might be thinking about your associates, your training, your portion sizes (and control), your menu… But the most important thing you have to think about after your food is: YOUR GUESTS and, how to get more of them!

Four ways to fill your restaurant:

1. Get more guests

2. Get your existing guests to visit more often

3. Increase guest spending every time they visit

4. Get referrals from your existing guests


1. Get more guests! Your restaurant is a business – and must be treated as such. As the owner of a restaurant the single highest value activity you can be doing on a daily basis is marketing!

STOP DOING THE MARKETING THAT ISN’T WORKING, RIGHT NOW. That might seem harsh, but really, can you track results from that expensive radio commercial? The newspaper? Your TV ad? A High School sports magnet calendar? You must stop now. You can’t afford to throw money away. The hotel industry talks about putting “heads on beds.” As restaurant owners, our job is to put “butts in seats”.

2. Get your existing guests to come back more often!

Don’t wait for one more second; you’ve got to build a list, a database, a permission based tool to reach your guests via direct mail (postcards, newsletters, offers in the mail); email; phone calls; text messaging. With a database, you are invited by your guests to communicate with them and offer them invitations to return to your restaurant for their special celebrations, birthdays, anniversaries, holidays and more! Where will they go if they are invited? To your restaurant!

The database is the single most effective tool I used to build my restaurant from one location serving 56,000 guests annually to four locations, serving 272,000 guests annually. I created a “birthday club” database and went from zero to 55,000 individuals in our database in just four years. We are really dedicated to this tool, which, in our restaurant, is called the “EggHead Breakfast Club.”

3. Increase guest spending every time they visit!

You know what this is – suggestive selling, upgrades. Do you have a system in place to assure it’s being done by every server or bartender at every opportunity possible with every guest? You must! You know when a body walks through your front door, they are not there to window shop, and they don’t want to try something on. They are there to spend money. Your goal, as a restaurant owner is to help the guest have the best possible experience and maximize revenue to the company at the same time. Suggestive selling or upgrades is not an evil sales technique, it’s a genuine service to your guest to help them get exactly what they want when they’re in your establishment. Make them happy!

4. Get referrals from your existing guests

Don’t confuse this with number 1, get more guests. This is very specific. If each existing guest referred just one more guest like them, you’d double your business!  I want you to build a referral culture in your restaurant and a system to assure you’re getting referrals. This is crucial, it cannot be left to chance or hope. Create a plan to ask for referrals and do it! Track and post results (Anything Measured Improves; Anything Measured AND REPORTED Improves Even More). Each of your employees needs to be trained and quizzed on asking for the referral.

5. Bonus tip!

You’ve got to set up a GPS system today: Get Positioned Socially. I meet restaurant owners all over the country who still don’t partake of the “Four Basic Food Groups of Social” every day: Facebook; Twitter; YouTube and LinkedIn. To get more guests, get your existing guests to visit you more often, to increase spending and get referrals, you’ve got to be top of mind with your guests. Do this by meeting them where they are: on social networks.

According to a recent Nielsen Social Media Report, social networks and blogs reach nearly 80% of active U.S. Internet users and represent the majority of Americans’ time online. You simply have to be there to be seen and heard and remembered. Gone are the days of one-way, broadcast, distributed media consumption. Today’s consumer, including your restaurant guest, is expecting more from you: a conversation.

You can fall in love with your restaurant again and you can increase sales!

Misty YoungMisty Young, nicknamed The Restaurant Lady, is Chairman of Squeeze In, a family chain with 4 locations throughout the Reno/Tahoe region. Her blog is www.fromragstorestaurants.com.

Day 21: 31 Ways to Boost Your Small Business in 2013This article is from the SmallBizLady special blog series: 31 Ways to Boost Your Small Business in 2013. #Boost2013

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