The Ultimate Guide to Boosting Restaurant Traffic in 2018

Now that the holiday dining rush is over, it’s time for restaurant operators to start thinking about how to attract more customers and increasing their profits in 2018. But there’s a right way and a wrong way to go about boosting restaurant traffic. Here are five ways to get the job done properly.

Woman in the doorway of a busy restaurant at lunchtime

1. Be careful with promotions.

It’s no secret that customers love promotions. However, don’t defeat the main purpose of running promotions — boosting sales by attracting more traffic — by spending more money to run them. This only depletes financial resources that could be better earmarked for other business-building initiatives.

Many successful promotions only work because they include discounts. But don’t give the impression you are slashing prices from desperation (due to foods reaching the end of the season or overstocking) or resorting to “daily deals” websites. This devalues your offerings and the dining experience your restaurant offers. Even if it increases restaurant traffic in the short term, it will backfire in the long run.

2. Avoid trying to create demand where it doesn’t exist.

Focus on attracting more patrons during peak times, retaining regular customers, and turning new customers into regular customers. Start with marketing campaigns that take your establishment’s traffic pattern into consideration and are designed to increase restaurant traffic when demand is greatest.

3. Be discreet about rewards.

If you are in the habit of widely broadcasting promotions, customers may decide to frequent your restaurant only when discounts are available, eating into your profits.

Better idea: Offer loyal customers a discount card with their meal every once in a while (but don’t make these offers predictable). You can also send discount offers to loyal patrons via email on a weekly or monthly basis.

4. Hold chef “meet and greet” events.

The foodies among your restaurant patrons may be enticed by the opportunity to meet the people who perform magic in your kitchen. So consider a promotion that includes a meet-and-greet with your chefs, instead of discounting menu items. Maximize these events by allowing your chefs to offer a few basic cooking “hacks,” such as how to put together a tasty spice rub, that will whet participants’ appetites.

5. Take social media seriously — but not at the expense of your website.

Use social media as an addition to — rather than a replacement for — your website. Share your menu on your Instagram feed, Facebook page, or other social media account. Feature your specials and engage with customers on social media as well. But remember that it’s important to maintain a mobile-friendly, up-to-date website to provide convenience to diners and credibility to your business.

There’s no such thing as doing too much to attract more customers to your restaurant — providing that the strategies you implement are the correct ones. Start with these tips, and you’ll be on your way to increasing restaurant traffic in ways that will positively impact your business.