Getting more customers through the door and keeping them loyal is key to your business’ success. If you have a bar or restaurant, you need to sell an experience, rather than just food and drink. Specialised drinks, excellent food and top-notch entertainment are all products that cannot be found at home. These are all incentives, therefore, to go out. With a huge amount of competition and a very fickle customer base, you need to make sure you are out-performing your competitors, either on customer service or your product offering.
So, what steps should be taken to achieve an increase in customer footfall?
1) Get your brand in check. A clear brand image is key to making sure your customers know what to expect from your venue. If your marketing team has been doing its job properly, then you should have a reputation in the local area, which will attract a certain type of customer depending on your target audience. If a venue has no brand identity, customer can be put off, perhaps not risking your venue over your neighbour’s who they know well.
2) Review your product range. Is your offering unique in your local area? Are you just another cafe in a sea of cafes? If so, what are you doing that your competitors are not? If you’re in a seaside resort, how about offering a range of ice creams and cakes? Or invest in some second hand books and a bookcase to entice people to stay and read while they eat and drink. One key product that customers ask for is free WiFi, if you aren’t offering it and your competitors are, you are missing a trick.
3) Get out and about. You don’t need to stay in your venue and wait for your customer to find you. How about heading out and about to find customers in the streets? Flyers and samples couple with a friendly chat can go a long way to letting people know who and where you are.
4) Take to the social airwaves. Every business should have a Facebook page or a Twitter feed, or both. But not just that, they need to be active and engaging – not neglected. If you are going to enter the social world (and you must seriously consider it) then you need to assign some time to do it properly. If you have the budget, you could pay an agency to post and create content on your behalf. If you have neither time nor the budget, there is another solution in the form of Social WiFi which effectively will cover the basics for you.
5) Get customer loyalty. Offers and monthly newsletters by email are a great way to entice your customers back. If you have a good and qualified email list then your customers will find your news far more relevant than simply blanket targeting a purchased email list. It can be difficult to collect these details from your customers, you can’t normally just walk round your bar asking people for their details no matter what you are offering. Social WiFi can help. It will allow you to capture their email addresses when they log in to your WiFi. As they’re already customers, you know that this mailing list is qualified and accurate, and you’ll get a far better response and open rate than otherwise.
6) Invest in your staff. Happy staff means a happy working environment, and this will show in the overall perception of customer services that your clients have of you. Disinterested bar and waiting staff, receptionists or front-of-house personnel will greatly damage your brand. Staff training and re-training is essential as they are the face of your organisation. Teach them your brand values and train them in customer services and you should be good to go. Above all, treat them with respect.
7) Don’t cut costs by compromising on quality. Tempting as it may be, remember to justify the prices you charge rather than lowering them. If you give good service and can justify a higher price, then stick to your guns. For example, if you have a hotel and you charge a premium for an afternoon tea package, you customers will be far happier to pay it if you also offer a nice view over the gardens and a string quartet playing music. It’s all about creating an experience, not just about the food or drink. Your products will soon get a reputation of being good value, even though your prices are higher, because of the emotions you will evoke in your clients.
8) Diversify. Think about what products you offer at what time of the day. If your venue has extended opening hours then you could offer a coffee, cake and comfy sofa experience during the day and cocktails and dancing at night. Throw in some live music, sedate and relaxing during the day and more upbeat in the evening and you are on to a winning combination. If you have some spare space, consider setting up a conference room or other gathering place for the locals. Rent it to local groups.
It’s really important to choose your target market well. The most important thing you’ll need is accurate and qualified customer data. While there are a number of ways to collect data, you need to find the most cost effective. Paying for email databases can work out to be false economy – while you’ll have a lot of data it may not be as qualified as you’d prefer.
The best details to collect are from people who have actually seen your venue first hand. They’ll be far more likely to be receptive to an email or a Facebook page post if they’ve visited you for lunch or had a night out in your club.
By using Social WiFi, you can automatically capture their data in an unobtrusive way, by offering free WiFi in exchange for their data. The main social networks provide the data and you can gain automatic Facebook likes or Twitter follows. So, your social media postings and email marketing just got a lot easier, because you know that a great percentage of your database has already been to visit you. The best thing is the ability to target their friends by getting them to share your posts in a really simple way.
You can greatly increase your marketing effectiveness and brand awareness, by increasing your channels and contact with your customers.
View part 1 of this series of articles here, entitled “Brand Awareness – How to get your business noticed“