How Can Small Restaurants Avoid Getting Eaten Up By Large Food Franchises

Let’s face it; we are a nation of food critics committed to the ongoing search of delectable cuisines to satisfy our hungry palettes. Television channels like the Food Network, cooking segments on syndicated talk shows, restaurant magazines and guides, local and national news broadcasts, as well as newspaper sections and radio segments, echo our love for food.

I am intrigued with one particular television program filming the host of the show, who is a culinary connoisseur, traveling to different cities nationally and internationally, focusing on the challenge of spending a certain amount of money per day on food. The amount that she has to spend must cover breakfast, lunch and dinner, including tax and gratuity. She asks many of the local residents in the places she visits, to recommend a good, affordable restaurant to eat at. The two things that tantalize a tourist’s taste buds are “good food” at an “affordable price.”

So what if your restaurant is not a mega franchise? Use that to your advantage. Let your diners know that “big” things come in “small” packages! Exceed their expectations of your restaurant. Believe it or not, customers remember those little “extras” that keep them coming back. Since you may be at a disadvantage with “not” having a big advertising budget, here are 7 creative marketing strategies that you can implement right now:

1.Capitalize on advertising your cuisine, specialty dishes and prices.

2.Put a bowl at one end of your checkout counter and let patrons drop their business cards in it or have them sign up for a monthly drawing where you’ll be giving away a dinner for two.

3.Collaborate with a local spa, popular retail store, or local radio station to give away a FREE dinner for two in exchange for FREE advertisement. At times, some radio stations will post these little promotional plugs on their websites, especially if you advertise an estimated value.

4.FREE Food coupons are a great incentive to offer to other establishments for their top salespeople covering a designated contest period. (ie. car salespeople, insurance agents or other businesses employing sales associates.)

5.Email a “What’s New” newsletter to customers that would include daily specials, special holiday offers, availability of gift certificates/gift cards and special recipes.

6.On the back of some of your business cards, print an announcement that the cardholder is entitled to receive a FREE desert with an entrée purchase.

7.If you offer catering services for weddings, birthday parties, anniversaries, retirement parties, etc., be sure to advertise this service.

Having a small restaurant doesn’t mean that you have to be small-minded. Think big and reap big profits from customers who entered hungry, but left full and enjoyed their dining experience.

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