Little foot traffic? Don’t fret! For restaurants that are off the beaten path, it may take a little more work to generate buzz and customers. While additional effort is necessary to draw a crowd, people are happy to go out of their way when exceptional food and exceptional service are par for the course. Have great pasta, will travel!
Here are a few ways to make up for your lack of foot traffic:
Shout It out on Social Media
Social media bends the rules in terms of drawing a crowd to a restaurant’s subprime location, and it’s power has made many restaurants successful.
Social media has been particularly effective with food trucks. They tweet out their location to draw crowds, no matter where they are. The mobile nature of the business means they can’t rely on customers knowing the truck’s location on their own.
If your business isn’t on people’s way home from work, you’ll have to get your business in front of their eyes another way. Social media allows restaurant and food truck owners to interact with their customers in real time regardless of their physical location. It’s a great way to get feedback and further develop your strengths, or just tell them what specials are on the menu.
In addition, target specific demographics by using paid media on social platforms. It’s an effective way to ensure a guaranteed number of impressions to a targeted audience. In many cases, it is also more cost effective than traditional marketing.
Offer Something Unique
To stand apart from the chain restaurant down the street, you’ll need to offer your customers a unique product or experience, and market that uniqueness.
Take a look at breweries, for example. Many of them are located in obscure areas like office parks or warehouses because they need a larger space. But high-square footage, low-rent real estate doesn’t come with ample foot traffic. They attract and retain customers because their customer base is willing to go out of their way to enjoy a unique product or experience.
Craft breweries offer flights of beer so visitors can taste several choices from the menu. They might offer seasonal small batches or encourage you to bring in your own food to enjoy with your beer (if they don’t serve food). They might host live music or a literary event to bring people in.
This is a valuable lesson for restaurant owners. Deliver something that people will return for.
Participate in Community Events
Participate in food festivals, music festivals, community gatherings and other various events that allow food vendors. Occasionally focusing your efforts off-site — whether it’s via a food truck, a booth at farmers market or a pop-up shop — will bring awareness to your restaurant.
Serve a signature dish to set the tone of what your restaurant offers. People will oftentimes make a trip to your location when the food is memorable. Taste buds are a nostalgic form of memory and will entice potential customers who enjoyed sampling your bite-size offerings.
Bill Gates once said, “If I was down to my last dollar, I would spend it on public relations.” Leave it to the professionals who have media contacts with clout in traditional and digital journalism and media. It’s an investment that can result in increased ROI and is recommended by many successful restaurateurs to garner attention.
Consider Check-in Apps
Features built into platforms such as Yelp and Facebook allow users to “check-in” when they visit a business location or popular destination. Incentivise potential customers by offering a special deal when they “check-in” at your restaurant through a social media app. It’s also a great way to turn one-time customers into repeat guests.
As an organic approach, check-in features allow individual users’ audiences to see where they’ve been. This can lead to direct recommendation from a peer and encourage potential customers go out of their way to visit your restaurant.
Similar to check-in features, geolocation tags on Instagram or Twitter also offer peer-to-peer recommendation capability. Highly visual-driven platforms involve photos to tell a story. A picture is worth a thousand words and have the power to pique someone’s interest. Add 160 characters and potential guests will be intrigued.
Pave the Way
Burgeoning neighborhoods are often met by other like-minded restaurateurs. Encourage other small business owners and restaurateurs to consider opening their next brick-and-mortar near your location if the neighborhood has room to grow. With others’ help, turn the location into a destination. This progressive approach will take more time to develop but the rewards of developing a niche as a larger whole is an accomplishment to be proud of.
A restaurant’s location doesn’t have to impact the overall success. Carve out your path for success by finding what works best for drawing crowd and further developing your clientele.