by Kim McKeeman
Grand openings, market entries, new product launches – they’re a lot of work. One restaurant owner described it as “birthing a baby.” I’m not a restaurant owner, but I have opened and rebranded my own business, helped restaurant owners open hundreds of locations and I’ve given birth to three boys. So, yep, I can see the comparison.
But it’s what comes after the business opening or the product launch that’s even more important. So how do you avoid the dreaded “launch it and leave it” scenario?
A few foundational elements can serve as your beginning marketing plan — and that helps your business grow and sustain long after that grand opening banner comes down.
- Reward your regular customers. Whether it’s through a loyalty program, VIP email list, or just special attention when visiting your restaurant, people like to be valued. And that means they’ll return, more often, and tell their friends.
- Be predictable… in your offerings and special events. If you’re trying to edge out the competition and give folks ONE more reason to visit your business, do it consistently to become part of their lifestyle. Kid’s Eat Free nights, Wine Down Wednesdays, Trivia Tuesdays – tailor it to your customers. They all give customers an excuse to add you to their calendar. That drives an emotional connection – and loyalty.
- Have a customer recovery process that is shared by ALL in your organization and revisit it early and often. Nothing can sour a relationship more than a bad experience. On the flip side, nothing can strengthen one more than a bad experience when it’s authentically made right.
- Leave your four walls and go out into your community. Support events and causes that are important to your customers. This brings your brand to your customers, creating additional connections.
- Solidify your online footprint. These days, a restaurant or business’s online presence cannot be an afterthought. Ensure that your online listings (ex. Google Business) exist and are accurate and that you have a least one social media page that is regularly updated.