40 Tips to Promote Your Pub or Restaurant

Here’s a fairly comprehensive list of forty simple ideas which came from ourselves and the delegates on a recent customer service course we ran for pub and restaurant staff and owners. Brilliant some of them! Who says innovation is dead?

  1. Spend a few minutes on the pavement, offering samples to passers-by.
  2. Call a competitor to one of your current suppliers. Compare terms and prices.
  3. Organise and segment your customers into a coherent contacts list. Separate your best customers. What do they have in common? What do your worst customers have in common? Ok, this might take longer than 30 minutes, but you have to start some time, right?
  4. Come up with a promotion that you can run in conjunction with other local businesses. Especially other businesses that target the same sort of people.
  5. Create a relevant club or interest group on a social networking site, such as Facebook. Invite good customers to join and give them a reason to invite their friends to join.
  6. Start a Twitter account. Learn how to use it effectively.
  7. Create a group for you and your staff on a professional networking site, such as LinkedIn. Getting yourself talked about in the industry is good for business.
  8. Use video. This could be in your newsletters or on your website. Ideas could be customer testimonials, a recent event, chef’s tutorial or meet the team.
  9. Nominate yourself (or get someone to nominate you) for an industry award. Most industries have magazines and many of these host annual awards, i.e. The PMA.
  10. Send an SMS message or Email to your customers offering a special deal or advertising an event.
  11. Clean your pub front until it sparkles. Locals will notice.
  12. As above with the car park.
  13. Do a spot of gardening. Dead-head the hanging baskets.
  14. Come up with an interesting story about your business for your local newspaper or magazine to print. Ensure you have an attention grabbing headline!
  15. Think of a good reason for an industry-specific magazine, such as The Publican, Morning Advertiser or Caterer to write about you. Call them with your story.

Funny Pub Chalkboards

  1. Add some new content to your website. Perhaps a new event, a new service, a new menu. Customers should have an incentive to visit your site regularly.
  2. Find one local or industry-specific online directory that you are not already listed on. There are many of these. Register on it.
  3. Search the web for any comments that have been made about you. For example, if you are a restaurant, look at your current rating on Trip Advisor or Top Table. Reply if you can, and thank people for good comments and address negative comments. (more on this to follow in another blog post).
  4. Get yourself on Google Local. This will help search engines and pull all your web directory listings and reviews together for customers to see.
  5. Call 5 of your best customers. Thank them and/or offer them a chance to comment
  6. Come up with a new incentive for your staff to provide good service or up-sell.
  7. Speak individually to a member of your staff. Ask for their opinion about a job or service that you didn’t directly oversee.
  8. Come up with a plan to promote a specific drink or menu item to your customers. Call the supplier of that product and ask them to sponsor your promotion.
  9. Call a friend and ask them to act as a mystery shopper.
  10. Find a high-profile local event, such as an annual ball or dinner, and offer to use your specialist skills to help organise it. You may be able to promote your business to the event audience in return. At the very least, you’ll get to network with organisers and audience to raise your local profile.
  11. Identify your most influential customers – those who know lots of local people and are well liked or respected. Come up with a good reason for them to talk about you.
  12. Arrange a business breakfast for local business where they can network and get to know your business. Make sure you have your brochure to hand out at the end.
  13. Collect people’s email addresses. Put an empty fish bowl on your bar, or a noticeboard in a public area – offering an easy way for people to leave business cards.
  14. Eat in your own pub and see the service from a customer point of view. Ensure you keep an open eye to monitor other guest experiences as well as your own.
  15. Arrange a staff meeting and get their feedback and ideas.

Attract Pub Customers

  1. Put up a customer suggestion box. Name and email required (to add to database). Winning suggestion wins a free meal. Customers come up with great ideas.
  2. Could do above for a family recipe. Family gets to come eat your version of their family favourite.
  3. Enquire about your own signpost with your local council (brown tourist sign).
  4. Complete a local B&B/Hotel directory for your customers. Be sure these businesses recommend you too.
  5. Contact a local hotel who doesn’t have an evening restaurant. Offer their staff an incentive for sending you diners.
  6. Draw up a staff quiz on menu items, wine list, or event/promotion knowledge. Be sure your staff  know this it to assist you in their training requirements, not to show them up. Use their answers for your next training session.
  7. Ask your staff to add a few items to this list. Jobs they can do in 30 minutes!
  8. Delegate! Which jobs do you carry out which your staff could easily be trained to do? This would free up more of your time to work on your business rather than in your business.
  9. Make a list of all marketing and business growth strategies you carry out or would like to carry out. What could you outsource? How could someone else be more effective? What would your return on investment be?
  10. Try to carry out as many of the above techniques at once … and continue doing so.
  11. BONUS TIP. Never give up!