Restaurant Marketing

Restaurant Online Ordering for College Campus

5 Great Reasons to Deliver Food to College Campuses

It is almost a cultural cliché that college students are always starving and broke, so many restaurants ignore college campuses when they are looking outward for expansion of their delivery programs.  Believe it or not, college campuses represent some of the most concentrated markets for certain types of delivery food – and many restaurants find that delivering a limited menu to local college campuses can exponentially increase their order volume when college is in session. If you’re on the fence about whether or not to advertise your delivery options to a college campus near you, these five stats and tips might change your mind.

College Students are twice as likely to use Social Media as the General Population

When a college student has a great meal, or places an order for something to eat, they are more than twice as likely as the rest of your target market to go to their social media networks to place an update. Whether you are looking to expand your presence on Facebook (still the most commonly used social media network in the world) or upstarts like Foursquare and Yelp, college students will become your best friends if you can provide prompt and professional service.

Many college students even use social media as their primary “research” tool when they are making buying decisions – so a single review on the social media page of a well-liked college student can translate into dozens of orders for your company, or even your selection for catering projects and large institutional orders.  Of course, if you don’t deliver to your local college campus, you’ll never break into this close-knit social referral community.

Young People develop their buying/eating habits during college

According to the US News and World Report, up to a third of all college students will settle, work, and ultimately live in the city that they went to college in – and they will continue to frequent many of the same restaurants and establishments that they used during their college years. Your ability to cultivate a future audience for your restaurant is dependent on your ability to bring in college students – showing them the variety of cuisine that you offer, and guiding their tastes and their appreciation for fine dining.

This tip is particularly important if you are an “upper budget” restaurant that doesn’t typically do a lot of business with budget-conscious college students. It might be worth investing in a limited delivery menu that you advertise specifically for delivery to colleges – “hooking” college students on your food and your brand, and gradually upselling them to your fancier fine-dining options by the time they graduate and start working locally. For example, a fine Italian restaurant might consider offering pasta deliveries to college campuses during exam time as a great revenue-boosting marketing stunt.

College students might be broke… but their parents aren’t

While there are certainly exceptions, the average college student has parents that are 40% wealthier than the national average.  Aside from paying their children’s college loans and giving them money for textbooks and tuition, these parents also take an active interest in their young students’ lives – and they frequently visit campus for formal events and to check on their kids. When parents are in town, students always go out into the city for their meals – since they use their parents’ arrival as their chance to have a nice dinner without being on the hook for the bill.

When students are doing their research for a nice restaurant to take their parents to, their mobile devices will be the first place that they look.  A good advertising campaign on a local college campus, coupled with a delivery program that exposes a large number of students to your food, can put you out ahead of the competition when graduation and alumni events roll around and your restaurant fills up with parents and students.

College Students have Limited Mobility

Many a sports bar and casual dining restaurant has opened up within two or three miles of a college campus, only to be disappointed with the paltry in-restaurant crowds that they receive from the schools. No matter how perfectly priced and designed your menu is, you’ll have trouble filling the seats of your restaurant with college students because of their low mobility. Only a small percentage of college students have cars on campus – so they usually only go to restaurants that they can walk to. College students would much rather order their food online using their mobile devices or computers, and have the food delivered to campus where they can share it with their non-car-owning friends – all without having to take an hour or two out of their day to walk to a restaurant nearby. If you don’t offer delivery to your local college campuses, you’re missing out on as much as 70% of the potential orders that you could receive from students.

College Orders are Highly Seasonal

As every restaurant owner knows, it is far easier to adjust the scale of a delivery or take-out business than to adapt to seasonal demands for a large sit-down restaurant. Offering delivery to college campuses allows you to tap the high demand around exam time and during the school year, without leaving you on the hook for massive facility expenses and staff fees during the summer when the orders from the college campuses dry up. Many popular delivery-only restaurants hire the majority of their staffs from college campuses – allowing them to adjust their workforce and their order volume along with the return of the students in the fall.

The best times to offer delivery specials to college students are in the fall (during move-in, when college students are too busy with campus events and socializing to go out to restaurants) and during the very end of each semester, when meal plans start to run out and students are looking for alternatives to their food that they’ve been eating all year.

restaurant marketing tips

5 Quick and Easy Restaurant Marketing Tips

Whether you are new to the restaurant business, or you have been in the field for years, there is no getting around the fact that you need to have good marketing if you hope to succeed. Word of mouth can still be powerful, but you need to make sure you have a strong online presence. In fact, even much of the word of mouth marketing happens online today via reviews and your customers talking about how much they liked your restaurant on social media. It has a huge influence.

The following are some simple and effective tips that will help you increase visibility for your restaurant so you can start getting more customers.

1. Geotargeted Advertisements

When you are marketing your restaurant, you need to think locally. Utilizing geo-targeted ads is a fantastic idea. It can help you to save some money, as your ads will only be shown in the cities and geographic areas that you choose. Since most people are looking for food near where they live or where they are vacationing, this ensures that you have the right potential customers looking at your ad. After all, if you have a restaurant in Tucson, you do not want to have your ads running for people in Bangor.

You can use geotargeted ads through many of the advertising services available today including Facebook, Twitter, and Google AdWords.

2. Utilizing Yelp

Set up an account for your business on Yelp. This is a highly popular site that many people frequent when they want to learn more about what a restaurant can offer. You want to add your location, the menu, the price range, photos, hours, and any other features of your restaurant that customers would appreciate knowing before they arrive.

If you respond to reviews on Yelp, whether they are positive or negative, you need to maintain a positive, professional, and nonconfrontational stance. If a customer has a legitimate complaint, see what you can do to make it right.

3. Consider a Loyalty Program

While this might not work for all restaurants, it can be a good option for many. Loyalty programs are a fantastic way to get your customers to keep coming back for more. It is also simple to implement. You can simply print up some cards that you stamp whenever the customer comes in and makes a purchase. After a certain number of purchases, they can receive a discount or a free item. Plenty of places have had success with this including sandwich chains and coffee chains. It can work for you, as well.

4. Social Media Marketing

Social media is important for all types of businesses today, including those in the food industry. You should have a strong presence on the most popular sites, including Twitter and Facebook. Utilize other social media sites, such as Pinterest and Instagram, as well. You can upload photos of your restaurant, your food, and more to help capture the interest of people on those sites, who can then share the information and talk about your restaurant. This is the digital word of mouth marketing mentioned earlier.

5. Great Photos and a Great Website

Most people are going to want to check out your website before they come to the restaurant. It will give them a better idea of what they can expect when they arrive. If you don’t have a website up and running yet, you are behind the pack. If you do have a website, you need to make sure it is fully functional and that it provides the visitors with a good experience. It should be easy to navigate, have a good layout, and all the necessary information about your eatery. This includes a menu and photos of your restaurant and your food. It is a massive part of your marketing today, and you can’t do without one. It doesn’t matter if you are a large restaurant or a small food truck. Want to set your restaurant apart from the crowd, offer online ordering on your site! This is not only convenient for your customers, but lets you save time/money not answering calls & also your customers don’t have to resort to the food portals to order from you through the food ordering portals.

Marketing is one of the aspects of your business that will continue to evolve, and you need to continually look for new and effective ideas to use. Start improving your marketing today.

Tips to Help Increase Your Restaurant Sales

The goal of any business is to increase sales, but it can sometimes feel as though your restaurant business is stagnating. You might not be losing sales, but you aren’t doing anything to get ahead, either. It is time to work on some different tactics and strategies that can help you improve your profits and surge ahead of the competition. Fortunately, many of these tips are relatively easy to implement. The following tips have the potential to help you increase your sales.

Learning to Upsell

The upsell has been an important part of the restaurant business, and any business for that matter, for ages. However, you’ve probably been to plenty of restaurants where they never even bother with upselling. This is something you need to teach your staff. Upselling can increase the average ticket amount by up to 10% in many cases, and it is simple enough to do.

They simply need to ask the customers if they would like to try any appetizers, or if they would like a dessert or some coffee after the meal. They could let the customers know about other additions that they could get for the meal, such as extra fries, as well. Every little bit helps, and an additional five to 10% on even a fraction of the tickets can make a difference. You might want to give your servers an incentive to help them with upselling, such as a prize for those who have the most upsells in a month.

Do You Offer Online Ordering?

Do you have online ordering available for your customers yet? If you don’t, you could me missing out on a huge opportunity. Many people would like to get food from your restaurant, but they do not have the time to get out. They might be working, they might be at home and simply don’t want to go out for dinner, but they would still like to pick up some great food.

By offering online ordering for pick up, as well as delivery if possible, you can reach a large group of consumers. It is easy to get set up with a site such as 247waiter, which takes care of much of the work for you.

The average amount ordered online tends to be larger than what is ordered in the restaurant. In addition, those who order from you once are very likely to order again, if they had a good experience the first time. This can help to increase your sales without bringing more people into the restaurant. It is a fantastic way to increase your sales without needing to expand your business.

Are You Mobile Ready?

When people are looking for a place to eat today, many will simply pull out their phones and start searching the area for nearby restaurants. You want your establishment to have a good mobile presence. This means you need to have a site that is easy to navigate through phones and tablets. It should be simple for the users to find your address, to search through your menu, and even to call you if needed for reservations or to check the hours. In addition, you should be active on social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, as this can help you to reach even more potential customers.

Offer Catering, Parties, and More

Another way that you can increase your restaurant sales is to offer catering. You could make the food at your restaurant and then have the customers pick it up, or you could provide full catering services. In addition, you might want to host parties, events, and the like at your restaurant. If you have a separate room that could be used for these events, even better. Offering these services is a good way to increase your business, as you can host all different types of functions including birthday parties, anniversaries, office parties, meetings, and more.

Offer New and Exciting Dishes and Drinks and Promote Them

By adding some new and interesting items to the menu occasionally, it can help to breathe some life into your business when things seem like they are stagnating. While the old tried and true items on the menu might never leave, that does not mean you can’t be creative. In fact, you should be creative and start to add new items, including food and drinks. You might want to have holiday specials or seasonal dishes that you can promote, as well. With some great descriptions and photos, and the right marketing push, it can help to bring more customers into your restaurant.

Have a Special Event at the Restaurant

Consider some of the different types of special events that might work well for your establishment. Perhaps you could have a live musician come in once a week, or on the weekends, to entertain your guests. Maybe you could have a karaoke night, or a half price drinks night. Depending on the type of restaurant or bar you run, there are plenty of interesting options that could work well for you. Think outside of the box and make it memorable.

Loyalty Program

A loyalty program is a fantastic way to increase your sales. For example, a reward card that requires ten purchases for one free item means that a customer needs to come to your eatery and order ten times. The more customers who are a part of this program, the greater the chance of return visits. This can substantially increase your sales, and you have nothing to lose. Even with the cost of the free item, you will more than make up for it with those other ten sales!

Increase the Prices

Finally, you can increase the prices. However, you should only increase them a small amount. You want to make a profit and increase your sales, but you do not want to gouge your customers.

With these tips, you can increase your restaurant sales, and it is easier than you might have thought. Always keep an eye out for other cost effective ways that you can boost your sales.

Marketing your Restaurant during the Holiday Season

For retail businesses, the holiday season is pure gold – an opportunity to make nearly all of the profit that the retail company will see throughout the year. Restaurants have historically had a much different relationship with the holidays though – since it is difficult to market to people during the Christmas season when they are traveling or spending time with friends and family. For restaurants that are willing to put a little extra effort into their holiday marketing plans, Christmas can be one of the best times to create special restaurant dinners or to offer delivery and take-out.

Holiday Specials

Between Thanksgiving, Christmas, and the other “end of year” holidays, you have a substantial opportunity to create dinners and special events at your restaurant that will bring in all kinds of new customers. Not everyone is able to travel home for the holidays, and many people don’t celebrate the holidays in any meaningful way, so your restaurant could be one of the only restaurants that is open during the day.

Added to this, holidays are the best time to start people on traditions – and a good restaurant creates an atmosphere and environment that lends itself to the formation of new traditions. Whether you choose to offer a fixed-price “off menu” production during the holidays, or you go all out with your decorations and your advertising, you can turn your holiday meals into a complete “production” that makes people feel comfortable and happy – and that brings them back the next year with their family and their friends.

Gift Cards and Holiday Promotions

Christmas is a great time to advertise your business to a new audience using gift cards.  Gift cards not only allow you to pre-sell your food and services (thus helping you start the next year with a bang), but they are usually given to people that haven’t been to your restaurant before – and people with gift cards almost always spend more than the value of their cards when they come in to redeem them.

If you want to encourage your patrons to purchase gift cards as stocking stuffers and presents for their loved ones, consider offering some kind of promotion where the person purchasing the gift card also gets a small gift card (or a discount on their food order) in exchange for their gift card order. It is virtually guaranteed that you will get more of a return on your gift card sales than you will spend on the promotion to encourage people to buy them.

Charity and “Giving Back”

The holidays are a time of generosity, and you can tap into that spirit in a way that will be good for your restaurant’s image and will help some people that need it.  Many restaurants sponsor some kind of charity dinner – whether to raise money, or to give food directly to the people in your community that can’t afford it. Consider opening your doors on Thanksgiving to provide a Thanksgiving dinner to your community’s poor or to a retirement home.  Not only will you be making some people very happy over the holidays, but you can also use your charity events as an opportunity to get some publicity in local newspapers and with your civic leaders.

Allowing Restaurant Customers to Order Online Increases Sales

Hungry customers are now provided the option from many innovative and sales-conscious restaurants of placing their meal orders online through their computers or cell phones. Marketing studies have determined that this usually results in larger sales. Restaurant owners and managers have long known that making it easy for customers to order is one of the keys to optimizing food sales, and it doesn’t get much easier than pointing and clicking on an item on a restaurant’s website.

Those who take advantage of convenient online ordering are often busy, time-pressed professionals. Others might be active families with several mouths to feed, couples looking for takeout for a picnic in the park or single people wanting a meal on their way home from work. Whether they’re ordering for dine-in or food to be consumed in-house, those with time constraints especially value the convenience of being able to order easily in advance. This eliminates frustrated wait times at tables in crowded restaurants or standing in long lines at takeout counters.

All of these types of consumers have one thing in common — they’re hungry. Just like how hungry people fill grocery carts fuller, they also purchase more restaurant items. Providing them with an online venue where they can click on pictures of desired entrees and ala-carte offerings creates a situation where they’re ordering more than they actually need. Human beings are visually hard-wired when it comes to primary needs such as food, so looking at tempting photographs will create more desire to eat than reading the descriptive text of even well-written menus.

Restaurant owners can even cut costs on staff by providing customers with an online ordering option. Because the customer is essentially putting in his or her order directly to the kitchen, serving staff can be reduced in establishments where online ordering is a substantial part of how they do business. It also significantly reduces chances of server error in ordering, therefore decreasing costs accrued by food waste and ordering mistakes.

There are three major factors that make online ordering systems beneficial for restaurants, delis and takeout facilities. Convenience is the first; most people like being able to click on a desired item and have it ready for them by the time they arrive at the establishment. Because most people are closely connected to their online electronic devices throughout the course of the day, offering online ordering options simply makes sense for restaurants that want to successfully compete in today’s tough marketplace.

The second factor is hunger. When people are hungry, they want the quickest available option. Hungry people are often also tired or winding down after a busy day. Hungry and tired people love the convenience of clicking on a tempting culinary photograph and having it quickly available for consumption.

The visual element is the third factor involved concerning why this strategy increases food sales. As mentioned before, the senses of most human beings are stimulated by pleasing images, and people are likely to order more food when they’ve got a visual reference.

Many busy restaurants have already increased sales by giving their customers an online ordering option. If you own or manage an eating establishment, you’ll find that implementing such a system will be well worth your time.

High-Tech Restaurant Marketing

If any business wants to remain relevant and profitable there is a need to understand that the customer is the most important part of the whole equation. Without customers, there is no business! Therefore it is vital keep your customers happy.

A restaurant or any other business cannot continue with the most basic of operations without customers. In order to bring customers into a restaurant, marketing is vital and not just any kind of marketing but targeted marketing. Most restaurants fail with their marketing because of the way they go about doing it.

Restaurants are known to mail out their menus blindly to zip codes or go around dropping them off in neighborhoods and businesses. They don’t know how effective this is or whether those people are even interested in their type of food. The result of this is lots of energy & money wasted on marketing that doesn’t help the restaurant at all.

For a restaurant that has been in business for a while there are a signification amount of their business from repeat customers. Some of these restaurants fail to take advantage of targeting these existing customers in their marketing and instead spend all their resources in finding new ones. In any business, it is cheaper to market to your existing customers compared with finding new ones.

An advantage of marketing to existing restaurant customers is that they already approve of your food, so when marketing you just have to give them an enticing offer to bring them back for more. Customers become loyal when they see how they are valued and appreciated; on top of that, a satisfied customer will spread the word about the restaurant and soon enough, new customers will come as well.

Marketing to existing customers becomes a lot easier by embracing technology. Restaurant managers need to understand that if they use an online ordering system and over time build a list of their customers then they can start marketing directly to those customers through mail and email. 247Waiter’s online ordering software gives restaurants access to all their customers’ data which means you can market to them directly. For more information, click on the links above to see other features of our restaurant online ordering platform.

Facebook and Restaurant Marketing

Social media, specifically Facebook, is a common way to get your business’ name out to the public. There are many benefits for a restaurant having its own Facebook page. All restaurants should have a Facebook page. A Facebook page allows customers and potential customers to get updates on special promotions and events at the restaurant. In addition, it’s also a great way to share menu updates and job opportunities. Making a Facebook page for your restaurant is free and does not need much time to get it up and running. The benefits & rewards gained from having a Facebook page you’re your restaurant is well worth the few minutes invested in getting one up and running.

When creating your Facebook page, make sure to add your restaurants essentials such as business hours, phone numbers, address (any specific directions) and menu information along with specials and customer favorites or special dishes. You shouldn’t add any personal information such as your home address/personal phone numbers or any other personal info that might be misused. It’s also a great idea to add pictures of your menu items and restaurant on your Facebook page. Let customers see & feel the environment and “taste” the food before they come. This will not only encourage them to visit, but visit more often.

People spend a great deal of time on Facebook. Hours are spent searching for people, updates, events and potential deals. People stumbling onto your restaurant page could mean potentially more business for your restaurant. Having a Facebook page for your restaurant is also great for people who use the “check-in” option. Customers visiting your restaurant can “check-in” and add reviews and along with other people with them. The reviews and “check-ins” will show up on both your Facebook and theirs which allows their connections & friends becoming aware of your restaurant.

Special events or promotions, new menu introductions can be displayed on your page’s wall. Your wall is a place to communicate to your customers and also get their feedback.  When you first make your Facebook page, it’s a good idea to promote it. Add it to your business cards; put a sign on the wall at your restaurant to let customers know you are now on Facebook.