Running a restaurant is not just a business that obviously should be generating profits but also it is an amazing social experience.
Have You ever asked yourself why do people choose to come to restaurant A not to restaurant B? What are the key reason they choose one venue over another one? Is it the food quality? Cuisine type? Decor? Atmosphere? Service quality? The list is long and we will go over few of these factors in this article.
The whole purpose of this exercise will be to find out few weak point in your business and try to improve them. Some of them You might not agree with and some You will find hopefully helpful. Restaurant trends and popularity are different to each post code due to demographics of the area as the main factor.
Tip 1 – Clearly state your CUISINE TYPE
People usually look for particular cuisine type before they decide to book a table. Would You plan your evening without knowing what food you will be eating? Probably not!
Try to be specific and original. Instead of describing your food as “Italian” or “European” , try to add geographical region to it. For example “Sicilian” or “Baltic”. It will suggest diners authenticity to the description. I have visited many Indian restaurants , but when I am planning to search for Indian cuisine online the one that is described as “southern Indian” or “taste of Mumbai” will get my attention before the other ones from that list, because it sounds original.
Tip 2 – Quality of your WEBSITE – Don’t waste your money!
Designing a high quality website is not difficult and You should never spend more than few hundred quid on getting your business online. All You really need is a low cost hosting and website template that you like and suit your venue. You could be done in few hours with a very impressive website without need of hiring a web development company that will charge you thousands for it.
So lets walk You through it:
Step 1 – Your domain name (website name) and hosting plan (cost of being online).
Cost of website hosting is different depending on the size of your content and hosting providers. Restaurants do NOT NEED big hosting plans !!!! You are not planning to start another Facebook or YouTube, all YOU want is to show your business , galleries, menus, opening hours and take bookings. Means any Basic Plan will do the job.
One.com offers the lowest cost on the market and I have personally developed many websites for my clients using their services. Their hosting plans are sometimes include the domain name. The usual cost for running the website will be less than £5!!!
Step 2 – Your Website Design (using WordPress based templates)
Once You have your website registered and started the hosting plan, You should select WordPress as the base of the website. There are many FREE templates designed for restaurants and cafes. However if You really want to stand out then You should get yourself a professional template that will cost You no more than £50-£100.
My absolute favorite is BRANDO, “a sophisticated, creativity, and easy-to-use parallax Restaurant WordPress theme that it allows you to display the beautiful dishes, romantic space, nice view, attractive events; tell interesting stories, or promote the delicious cuisine in the world… This theme is suitable for Restaurants, Fast Food, Coffee, bakeries, bars, bistro, tavern, saloon, dinner, culinary specialties shops, wedding restaurant, personal chef websites, banquet conference center and more… Brando Template cost $59 and it is very easy to install onto your website and start customizing.” – (Source http://tinyurl.com/hhl6em2)
If You are not computer savvy at all or You really have no time doing it yourself then simply hire someone to help You with the registration of the website and uploading the template to it. Hire a student or ask one of Your staff, surely at least one of them will know what to do! This will save You thousands of pounds than Yo can spend on marketing Your business instead!
Tip 3 – Social Media presence – engage with your followers
Keep Your customers up to date with events that are happening at your venue. and post it to your social media profiles on regular basis. Let them all know about your new menu, special events such as Valentines Day, Mothers Day, Live Music, New Cocktail list, Special offers and whatever You want to shout out about.
Never limit Yourself to Facebook and Twitter only. Although they are “high authority” websites, not everyone is using them. Look for new platforms and portals to list your business.
Tip 4 – Taking MORE Reservations
How do You take your bookings? Is it just the phone, and a sheet of paper where you scribble some names and phone numbers? If the answer is “Yes” then You definitely have to realize that this is 21st century!
“Pay per cover” platforms:
There are many platforms where You can feature Your restaurant in. Some of them have good reputation and do bring covers to Your venue, such as OpenTable or BookaTable. The price You would have to pay for every customer that comes via their website is usually £2 plus VAT.
They will also offer You to place their booking form on your own website that will cost You £0.25 plus VAT for every customer that book a table directly from your page. Why would You EVER want to pay for Your own customers ?!
You should NEVER counts on those portals as the main source of traffic to your business and it does cost You. Some of the platforms even charge You monthly subscription fee plus the cover charge like Quandoo, means You will be paying £30 per month plus VAT and have no guarantee that You will ever get any bookings.
“No cover charge” platforms
Get listed for free on many other portals that could bring You traffic. Use TripAdvisor and ActiveBookings . Those two will not cost You to have a professional page on their directory. Both will collect reviews for your restaurant and help customers to find Your venue on the map.
Trip Advisor is well established that also can make it hard to stand out from the crown as Paid Featured members will be on top of the search results, where ActiveBookings is based on geolocation based search and quality design that is more fair on every business listed there.
Also try looking for local business directories in your area and submit your listing there.
Tip 5 – Table Management Systems
There many varieties of table management systems that will help You operate the business and bookings. they should never cost You more than £150 per month and you will essentially save time and money on paying a staff member for the job that the table management system can do for You. Those systems are designed to automate the process of online reservations and allocating them to the tables in Your restaurant. The BEST system that i ever came across is ResDiary.
Their software contains more features than Quandoo, Collins or even the outdated OpenTable systems. ResDiary doesn’t charge for the reservations and they are not trying to tie You up to any type contract. On top of that You will also be featured on their portal at never pay for covers booked. Their prices range between £49 – £149 that is way less than any other competitor. It is practically like getting a Rolls Royce car for the price of a Fiat.
You can send Your inquiry here and one of the ResDiary representatives will contact You with more information regarding their Table Management System.
Tip 6 – Original Wine List
What I mean by “Original Wine List” is that if you can find the same wine labels in the supermarket, means they should never be served in your restaurant. Look for independent wine merchants for your stock supplies.
Your House Wine should represent your restaurant. You can still find a quality product without compromising on your profit margins. “House” does not mean “Cheap”, remember that. Many wine suppliers even offers a private label with your restaurant logo on the bottle.
Tip 7 – Quality Coffee Beans and Tea
Another very important factor whether your customers will come back to You, especially during the morning and lunch hours. There are many places with great decor, outstanding location and an impressive menu, however when I asked for the coffee, I got served an instant watery cup of filth….. Surely You know that feeling , right?
There is no better profit margin You could ever get as from a hot beverages. Research some quality suppliers, look for quality beans as there is not much difference in prices between them all.
Try Pact Coffee , an outstanding coffee beans supplier with proven quality across restaurant industry. Give Your customers reasons why they should choose You over Costa or Starbucks!
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