People cannot survive without food, which is why starting a restaurant is a profitable venture. This, however, doesn’t mean that anyone who starts a restaurant definitely succeeds at it. There are many factors to determine if the business will be a success or not. Many people have little knowledge on how to market a restaurant in Singapore.
Today, starting and running a thriving business is completely different from how it was two decades ago. The internet is one of the main reasons for the many changes in the restaurant industry. Hundreds of entrepreneurs get into this industry but don’t last for more than a few months.
If you are an aspiring restaurateur, you might want to familiarize yourself which the following challenges in the restaurant and food service industry.
- The Mobile revolution
Gone are the days when you would put up a coulourful sign outside your restaurant or depend on word-of-mouth techniques to attract customers. Most people today don’t have the patience to look for restaurant signs in the streets. Welcome to the mobile revolution!
Almost every adult in Singapore owns a smartphone. These devices come with lots of conveniences. People can easily socialize with one another even if they are hundreds of miles apart. The e-commerce industry is doing well. Anyone with a smartphone would rather order a product online rather than pick it physically.
Some restaurant owners don’t make it because the business doesn’t cater to this large demographic. There has to be features to allow customers to order their food online or find the restaurant via Google maps.
- Reputation matters a lot
With all the competition on the internet, it is advisable to protect the reputation of your restaurant if it has an online presence. Restaurateurs will naturally turn online to attract people to their restaurant.
A review seems insignificant but it is one of the reason why many restaurants fall. If customers have a bad experience, they are likely to post a negative review on the restaurant website. When someone looking for a place to eat lands on your website, they will see the negative review and avoid it. One way to build a good reputation and strengthen the brand is to offer the best service.
- What kind of food does the restaurant offer?
Yes. Your menu matters a lot. There has been a lot of changes in the way people view their meals in the last couple of years. People are getting more specific about what they take. Some of the factors to consider include allergies, diet, sustainability and sourcing.
While you may not satisfy each and every person that comes to the restaurant, it is important to consider these vital factors. There must be clear channels of communication with the customer in order to identify the types of foods they prefer. Once you have identified these foods, the next step is to promote the restaurant vigorously.
Having mentioned some of the main problems facing the restaurant industry, let’s now focus on the marketing strategies that guarantee an increase in profits.
- Build a website
We are in the digital era and almost everyone uses the internet in one way or another on a daily basis. Smart business people usually build a website so that they can easily reach out to the millions of prospective customers on the internet.
A website should contain all details about the organization. It is like a virtual store and should mirror the physical restaurant. Have photos of the meals your restaurant provides and enable reviews so visitors can gauge the customer service.
The website also needs to be responsive. People should easily find their way around it. If the intention is to make an order, they should do so in a few clicks. Remember to optimize the website for mobile devices since that is what most people use to access the internet.
- Use social media
Creating a website for your restaurant business isn’t enough. To establish a solid online presence, you need to create social media accounts. Experts recommend that you use no more than three social media platforms. You could decide to use Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.
Being on social media will benefit your restaurant in many ways. This social media platforms are used by millions of people not only in Singapore but also other parts of the world. Identify your target audience and start posting relevant content.
Make sure you engage the target audience regularly and find out what interests them. This is also the place where you will get feedback from current customers and improve on your weak areas. If people love your restaurant, they will gladly share your content with friends and acquaintances. If done in the right way, social media significantly contributes to the growth of your business.
- Blogger Outreach
When you start a restaurant, you’ll obviously want to attract as any people as possible. There are millions of foodies in Singapore but you will be unable to reach a large audience if you’re new. This is where foodie bloggers come in.
There are hundreds, or even thousands of food bloggers out there. Some of them have massive followings. You could invite them to your restaurant just to have a taste of your meals and customer service. This is even better if you are introducing a meal to your menu.
You could then ask the bloggers to give a positive review of your website. Most bloggers won’t hesitate to promote your business if you provide a great service. When they eventually do, you will be able to reach thousands of potential customers.
- Use photos to your advantage
If already have a restaurant or are considering starting one, you need to sharpen your photography skills. The rapid growth of Instagram shows that people respond to visual content. You will obviously need an Instagram account for this purpose.
Post the best photos of your tasty looking meals. You shouldn’t limit it to Instagram alone though. Place photos of your meals on other platforms as well. If you are just starting out, you could use your smartphone. If you want to produce high quality photos, consider acquiring a professional camera and taking some photography lessons. You will be amazed at the results.
- Work with delivery companies
The whole point of starting a website for your restaurant is so people can make orders online and have meals delivered to their doorstep. With all the competition in the industry, you will be miles ahead of your competitors if you can deliver food to a customer.
You will discover that this requires more personnel and expenses. Partner with delivery companies such as GrubHub, delivery.com, and Eat24. This is a surefire way to increase the number of customers.
- The occasional newsletter
When you have built a following and have thousands of people flooding your website, you’d want to keep in touch with them. Remember there are probably hundreds of other restaurants planning to snatch your customers.
Sending out newsletters once in a while is a good thing. It is vital because it enables the restaurant to develop a strong relationship with the customers.
If for instance you have a new meal on the menu or are giving discounts on a certain date, you can let the subscribers know. Remember to keep the newsletter simple and occasional. Many people hate getting spammed by businesses.
- Yelp reviews
When it comes to promoting your restaurant on the internet, Yelp should be on your list of strategies. Reviews are very important if you want to grow any businesses because it enables you to know how customers perceive your products/services.
It doesn’t matter whether you have a Yelp account or not-your restaurant will still get reviews through other channels. If you want Yelp to work to your advantage, your account should include the location of your restaurant, prices of meals, any extra services and photos. Ensure that people can find what they are looking for.
When you’ve already set up an account, you will start getting reviews-both positive and negative. Remember to always be polite when replying to reviews, even if they are negative.
If a customer has put up a negative review, kindly inquire what you can do to improve. If people see that you actually accept mistakes and are willing to do better next time, they’ll be willing to give you a second chance.
- Schedule your tweets
Twitter has gained millions of users in the past five years. It is one of the top platforms to market your restaurant. When you have gotten a few thousand people to follow you restaurant profile on Twitter, you can easily attract them to your restaurant.
The mistake that most restaurateurs make is to tweet without a plan. The goal of your tweets is to urge the follower to take action. If it’s in the morning, tweet about meals that people usually have for breakfast, accompanied by the necessary hashtags. Do the same for other times of the day.
- Provide discounts
Who doesn’t love a free meal? Some people visit specific restaurant simply because they offer coupons and discounts. There are many ways to do this. One way is to offer a free meal to anyone who signs up for your newsletter. This means that a new follower get to experience the benefits of buying from your restaurant from day one.
Another way is to advertise coupons and discounts on social media or on your site. Remember to offer these coupons and discounts regularly so that your customers can always have something to look forward to.
- Target locals
Smart business people usually start a business after having identified the suitable environment. It could be a street that is highly populated or place next to a college. This way, they are assured of a good number of customers each day.
The aim is to focus on the local people. When they are looking for a place to eat, they will naturally pick a nearby outlet. You can use Google ads to target your local area. Social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter also have the target-location feature in their ads.
- Promote your staff
If you going to make your restaurant successful, your staff need to be good at what they do. If they do their jobs well and are friendly to all, they will encourage customers to come back. Share photos or even videos of your happy, smiling staff once in a while on social media. The public will see a happy employee and instantly view the restaurant as a good one.
- Share press mentions
It’s not every day that a restaurant gets featured in a major foodie publication or media agency. When this happens, share it on all the social media platforms you are part of. People might not give much attention to your restaurant but when they see a feature of it in a trusted media source, they’ll notice it.
- Support local charities and fairs
We’ve talked about reaching out to internet users using your website. What about reaching out to the community? It is important to ensure that people living around recognize the restaurant. One way to do this is by attending fairs/exhibitions.
Local charities, for instance a fundraiser, brings together a community. It is the perfect moment to promote your restaurant. Look up local exhibitions/charities/festivals that are set to happen and volunteer to provide food for free or at a discount.
When people come across your restaurant they will recognise it as the restaurant that supports charity. This is good for your reputation as well as building brand awareness.
- Search Engine Marketing (SEM)
Search engine marketing involves promoting your restaurant website in search engines such as Google. Most people who search for restaurant services on the internet usually know what they want. Chances are they are looking for a restaurant like yours.
Google ads can help you achieve your marketing goals easily. Using these ads, is that you can target either the local, regional or an international audience. Your restaurant website appears above the normal results in the SERP and attracts more visitors.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) also produce the same results as with SEO only that it may take a little longer. SEO is the process of optimizing a site for search engines, such that it ranks higher for certain keywords. One way to do this is by acquiring backlinks from high authority websites.
As you can see from the strategies outlined above, you can easily market a restaurant in Singapore. To ensure you are successful a few weeks/months into the businesses, analyse the industry to see which marketing techniques are appropriate.
For digital marketing (SEO and SEM), do not hesitate to contact MediaOne. The company has a team of experienced individuals ready to improve your marketing techniques.