Increase sales and customer numbers with these tactics from chain restaurants

It’s a sad reality that more and more independent restaurants are closing down.

In their place, Britain’s high streets are becoming full of outlets for Pizza Express, ASK, Zizzi, Wagamama, Nandos, Wetherspoons and Pret-A-Manger.

Why is that?

The reason many of these chains do so well, is because they have good systems and great branding. These systems are carefully engineered to extract as much money as they can from customer’s wallets.

As an independent restaurant, you haven’t got teams of analysts looking at spreadsheets to decide pricing.

You haven’t got market researchers developing new products. You haven’t got a marketing team working full-time to develop campaigns.

But what you probably have is better food…

Food photographers in Yorkshire

…And by copying the marketing tactics of the chains, you can compete against them.

Designing the menu

Here are some tactics from the chain restaurants that you might want to copy in your restaurant. You won’t want all of them – that might be a bit overboard!

  1. Different offers for different days. Wetherspoons does very well by offering a ‘food club’ for every night. They offer a drink and fish ‘n chips one day. Then curry nights, another. If you can do special offers on different areas of your menu – regular customers know when to pop in each week.

  2. Specials of the day. Chains typically use a small specials board to promote food that needs to be used up.

  3. Give customers a reason to come back with a loyalty card. Gourmet Burger Kitchen offers free burgers and a milkshake for regular customers . These little rewards give customers an extra incentive to return.

  4. Upsell! Restaurant staff in chains learn a script to upsell customers. It’s a bit unnatural to always use that script to customers. But if someone looks like they need an extra drink – ensure your staff to offer them one. Desserts and coffees are an extra chance to sell more at the end of a meal.

  5. Featuring products with the biggest profit margins. Starbucks and McDonalds both take advantage of big advertising boards behind the counter. As many people look here for inspiration, the chains promote their most profitable products.

  6. Offers during quiet times. Is your restaurant quiet in the afternoons or mornings. During quiet periods Wetherspoons offer deals like unlimited free coffee in the morning. Or deals on fish ‘n chips between 2-5pm when it’s typically quiet.

  7. Mouth-watering photography Food is a sensual experience and very visual. No description on a menu can match the stimulation of great photo.

Online Marketing

Now a few online tactics, that will help you beat the chain restaurants. They do it already, but you can do it better.

  1. Get listed on all the local business sites. You need to make it as easy as possible for people to find you. We’ve written an article about how to do that, here.

  2. If you’re using social media, encourage customers to join your Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages. It’s another channel to communicate with them.

  3. On your website and social media sites – highlight or post copies of good reviews, publicise your offers and don’t forget to show great pictures of your food.

  4. Ask happy customers to go onto Trip Advisor, Google Local, and leave reviews. The truth is 88% of people trust online reviews from strangers as much as personal recommendations.

Offline marketing

Most chains are very good at bringing customers in through passing trade.

  1. Use the windows to advertise, if you’re located in an area with high footfall. You could put photos of your food and an offer board in the window. Or alternatively you could seat your first customers by the window, then it looks like your restaurant is busy.

  2. Put a board outside in the street. If people have to walk around the board, they’ll look at it. Use photography and your best offers on it. If necessary, hire a graphic designer on PeoplePerHour to do it for you.

  3. Leaflets and direct mail still perform well. Use reviews and testimonials from your customers on them, along with your best photos. Most chains don’t do this – and it will set you apart.

At the end of the day, you need to give yourself every chance to beat the chain restaurants.

They may be bigger, but chances are you probably give punters better food and a better experience.

That’s why at Bakehouse we specialise in Food Photography for restaurants, hotels and takeaways in Yorkshire. There’s nothing we love more than helping small businesses to do themselves justice with great photography.

Why not put a photoshoot on the menu today, and invest in the future of your business? Contact Ben on 01482 420501 or email [email protected]