A franchise restaurant owner wears many hats: operator, HR recruiter, accountant, and marketer – to name a few. All are important and all take time. This blog is to help make one of those areas easier, while producing business-building results for your restaurant.
Local Store Marketing or LSM – I’m sure all franchise owners have put together local marketing plans, and my guess is sometimes you’ve hit it out of the park, and other times you’ve struck out. No one cares about your restaurant’s success more than you. You are its best ambassador. Below are some key tips on how to improve your batting average and effectively market your restaurant.
Local marketing programs should never interfere with your operations because you don’t want to negatively affect the customer’s experience. Share all potential ideas with your Ops Team. They are best suited to know if the marketing program could affect speed of service or product. The cashier should be brought in as well to help determine the best way to input the promotion so you can measure it for success.
All LSM programs should start with an objective. Just because you can put an ad on something, doesn’t mean you should. What is your goal?
• Trial? Consider giving your employees 5 coupons each for a new product. Ask them to give the coupons to family and friends. Not only do your employees look like heroes, this is a quick and easy way to get trial.
• Increase frequency? Loyalty focused plans that reward people for their business typically result in increased traffic. Just remember that the rewards should be relevant and timely.
• A competitive attack plan? Thwart the new guy’s opening by focusing on your customers’ experience. Invest in a few extra hours of labor a day – in the dining room. Put your “best face” forward and make customers feel special as you refill their drink, take their trash or just ask “how’s your day going?”
Be clear about what you are trying to achieve and build your LSM program around it.
Know your trade area and those who live in it. Is your customer base made up of families? Then create a program that caters to convenience for time-starved moms. Or possibly sponsor the Little League team, because one day these girls or guys may be part of your team. Do you have lots of Millennial customers? They look for places to “hang out.” Wi-fi and snack-type food make for a win because Millennials are “clockless” eaters – “three square meals a day” really isn’t in their vocabulary.
Keep your program simple. If you can’t explain the program succinctly, chances of success are slim. Life is complicated – don’t make it hard for me to be your customer.
Connect with your guests through social media. Not only to keep them posted on what’s happening at the restaurant, but also to engage and reward by asking them to share what they like best about the restaurant. Randomly choose a winner to dine with you so you can learn even more. Customers truly will respond to brands they like.
If a marketing proposal is presented that involves partnering with another brand in the community, ask yourself:
• What do the 2 brands have in common? Same values? Same target?
• Do they complement each other?
If the answer is “no” to any of these questions – pass and pass quickly! Go Pro and Red Bull recently partnered together. These two brands make a great team because both are about going to the extreme.
Don’t be shy about asking for support from the corporate office. They may have a tool kit with some existing marketing tools that can be used or customized to meet your needs. Don’t recreate the wheel. Ask your corporate partner to review your program and how it can be better. Also ask for support from your team. They need to understand all aspects of the program and also be “all in” to help make it a success.
Local Store Marketing programs start with a strategy and require focused discipline. Start small, understand what’s working/what’s not, and then apply those learnings to your next program. LSM done correctly not only will grow sales, but also can create brand influencers whom are priceless.