On Valentine’s Day, I took my wife out to a local sushi restaurant. (Her favourite – top marks for me.)
It was really busy. But the staff got it all just right. The food was excellent, the music just the right level, the waitress welcoming.
But until I sat down to write this post, I had not thought about the restaurant at all since I my last visit.
It disappeared off my radar.
Perhaps next year we’ll return because we will remember what a great time we had. But the restaurant has not done anything to continue the relationship it started when we ate there on Valentine’s Day.
Does the Experience ‘End’ Once Dinner Is Over?
Every time someone walks into your restaurant, you want to provide them with the best experience possible.
Of course you do – this could be the one time they eat out this month (or year), and you know that a good experience is more likely to bring them back.
When they are in your restaurant, you have control over the situation. From the personal greeting to the music, ambience and recommending items on the menu, you work hard to create a positive, warm and welcoming environment.
The problem is this:
What about when they are not in your restaurant? Does the experience end as soon as they leave?
What if they have never stepped foot in your restaurant in the first place? How do you start to build that relationship?
This is a problem for restaurants and any other local businesses: how do you build a relationship and continue the experience when you rely on your customers physically being in your premises?
Chef Tony’s Problem
I recently came across this customer story featuring Chef Tony Marciante from Maryland:
It’s a podcast, but you can read the article too – and I’d recommend that you do.
He runs a seafood restaurant, Chef Tony’s, and the whole piece focuses on the question:
How do you sell to people when they are not in your restaurant?
Some of the key points he highlights include:
- Restaurants need to get people through the door all the time
- Thin margins mean it’s hard to spend a lot on advertising and promotions
- In the face-to-face service industry, most of the work involves serving customers in the restaurant
This all raises the problem of how to reach customers outside of the restaurant.
When Chef Tony opened in 2007, he wanted a way to ‘memorably connect with potential customers’ despite only having a ‘tiny marketing budget’.
He wanted to reach people when they were not in front of him and talk to them on a one-on-one basis – even those people who had never stepped foot inside his restaurant before.
How Email Came to the Rescue
Traditional marketing, as Chef Tony found out, has couple of big problems:
- It’s expensive
- And it’s hard to measure
You pay for an expensive ad in the local paper, but how do you know if your ad is worth the money?
Chef Tony tells how, one night when a storm threatened to keep people away on a Saturday night, he sent a simple email offer of $39 for a meal for two.
That one simple email generated over $7,000.
How’s that for ROI!
Email Is the Easy and Affordable Way to Connect with Your Customers
For Chef Tony, email marketing turned out to be a way to connect with people when they were not in the restaurant.
For your restaurant (or other local business), email provides you with the perfect way to continue the customer experience after the customer has walked out the door – or improve it before they even enter.
And the best thing of all?
It doesn’t have to be complicated.
Most of my clients send out a single newsletter each month to their steadily growing lists, and that’s enough to keep the relationship going, connect with customers and get more people in through the door every month.
(And when you hire me, you can pretty much run it all on auto.)