The new budget from the Chancellor Rishi Sunak has given hope to over 150,000 businesses in the hospitality and leisure industry. Especially for restaurants. With the voucher set to start in 3 weeks time and the VAT cut already starting to take effect, August is the month that restaurants and pubs need to use to bring their old patrons back as well as it being an amazing opportunity to grow their audience.
The price of eating at restaurants Monday to Wednesday will no longer be a barrier for restaurant owners. The barrier will be standing out in August when so many people will flock back to their old favourites such as chain restaurants and McDonalds.
This means that over the next three weeks restaurants need to promote themselves heavily on social media, not just to draw in crowds now but also to build up excitement for the day that even the countries most vulnerable are allowed out for the first time in over 4 months.
Personally I would host a large event for the whole of August where people can bring their grandparents to your restaurant and they will eat for free as long as there is at least a family of 5, or for a family of 4, 1 grandparent will eat for free.
Realistically our grandparents won’t eat as much as us anyway so it's not going to be that expensive for us to cook for them. But the emotional attachment that this will have for their family will be incredibly powerful and will draw people to your brand. To make sure you are earning profit from this I would set it up as a set menu, where everyone eats from the same menu and you set it up so it costs exactly £20 per head, meaning that they feel they are saving money from their grandparents meals (£40 if both are eating for free) but also the voucher is up to £10 per head meaning that actually for a family of 5 to eat in a restaurant its costing them £30. But as a restaurant you will be earning £60 and money from drinks as well.
The other benefit to this is that members of two households (as far as I’m aware) can eat at the same table. Meaning that you can have maximum capacity in your restaurant even with the restrictions in place.
So we now have an offer that is incredibly powerful but how do we get it out there. The way we do it is through Emails, Texts and Facebook. You need to constantly be front of mind.
Through our sites you are able to reserve your table, and if required can pay a deposit meaning that policing this won’t be a problem. But I would use the three platforms in these ways:
Restaurants are encouraged to have customers reserve and even order by text and apps
When people reserve a table you tend to have their phone number so I would use this in a SMS messaging system to send a series of text messages to your old customers. The first one talking about how your restaurant is back open, the second about how you are making your premise safe, the third about the event and the forth as a reminder of the event. Each one with links to your website.
I’d essentially do the same as what you are doing for text messages to make sure as many of your previous patrons are seeing that you are back open and you're communicating with them on a one to one basis.
I would run a competition to launch the event to get maximum exposure on what you are doing. The competition could be as simple as a fine dining experience completely for free, but the amount of awareness you get from this will be well worth it and gives you an opportunity to get directly in touch with every entry.
I would utilise Facebook groups by sharing videos of your food showing how you have made them, the food you're going to make for the month long event and sharing reviews of previous patrons.
Facebook Ads, I would then use Facebook ads to make sure you go out to as many people in your local area as possible. For £100 I’d expect you to go out to around 5000 people in your local area if done correctly (this is purely the cost for the Facebook ad not set up etc if you use a third party).
The point is that over the next three weeks you really could build incredible momentum around your business and utilise the voucher to drive traffic to your business and hopefully retain them long into the future. The average person only needs to eat in your restaurant 4 times and have 4 good experiences, for them to become a patron for a very long time.
I hope you enjoyed reading this and it's sparked a few ideas for you as a business. If you need any help with the above feel free to read our other how to guides teaching you how to do this yourself. Or get intouch with me personally.
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