Whether online or in person, fostering positive word of mouth is the best way to increase restaurant sales without advertising. Ninety-two percent of customers trust word of mouth and personal recommendations—it shouldn’t come as a surprise that it’s the most effective tool at your disposal as a restaurant owner.
And in the digital age, a restaurant’s online reputation and reviews bring a new angle to word-of-mouth marketing: We have to focus on consistently engaging with and responding to our customers across every channel, online and in person. With 79% of people trusting online reviews as much as a personal recommendation from someone they know, focusing on word of mouth can increase restaurant sales, brand reputation, customer loyalty, and more.
When business owners ask us how to increase restaurant sales without relying on the short-sighted nature of advertising, we can make many different recommendations—and they all boil down to using the power of word of mouth.
Kimberly Whitler breaks down word-of-mouth marketing strategies into three aspects: engage, encourage, and empower. So let’s take those three Es and see how we can apply them in a way that answers the question of how to increase restaurant sales.
If you’re looking for ways to boost your restaurant sales and encourage positive word-of-mouth reviews, it starts with engaging your customers and creating a better experience for them.
Crafting a better customer experience is about more than talking and listening to your diners—you need them to understand that their opinion matters. Ask for customer feedback and get to know what they want from your restaurant, staff, and menu. This conversation needs to be a two-way street.
Years ago, the only way we could do this as restaurant owners was by handing out feedback cards and asking our guests how everything was, what we could improve, etc. And while these in-person interactions are still important, we need to enhance their online experience, too.
We can do this by interacting with our customers online through our restaurant’s social media pages and online review sites like Tripadvisor, Google, etc. Whether it’s answering questions about your restaurant’s hours, thanking a customer for a positive review, or responding to negative reviews, these engagements help bring in both repeat and first-time diners.
Next, let’s talk about how to increase restaurant sales by building loyalty through encouragement. You need to give your customers reasons to talk about your restaurant and encourage them to introduce their friends and family to your brand and leave positive reviews about their experience.
Show off your passion for the atmosphere and food you offer. Show potential customers what makes your restaurant different from the one down the street. Give them reasons to choose you and keep coming back.
It comes down to cultivating a sense of uniqueness for your restaurant. When you offer a one-of-a-kind menu, atmosphere, and overall experience, you can not only boost your restaurant sales without spending on advertising, but you can also build customer loyalty without even trying.
Give diners a reason to show up and an even bigger reason to share their experience with their friends, family, and the community. Hosting special events like prix fixe date nights or live entertainment is a great way to draw in potential customers and encourage them to spread the word about your restaurant.
Finally, we have empower, which shows us how to increase restaurant sales without advertising by providing our loyal customers with different channels to share their opinions. Now that you’ve been engaging with and encouraging your diners, it’s time to focus on boosting your online presence and empowering your customers to share their thoughts.
The key is to communicate with your customers using a consistent brand voice and respond to inquiries across every channel, whether in person at your restaurant or online through social media platforms and review sites.
Once you’ve created an environment that offers a better customer experience and facilitates brand loyalty, your customers will already be talking about your restaurant and spreading their experiences through word of mouth.
All you have to do now to increase restaurant sales and maintain your online reputation is continue to encourage them to leave online reviews, keep giving them reasons to talk about your place, and consistently respond to their questions and feedback.
Our last tip on how to increase restaurant sales is to find ways to make engaging, encouraging, and empowering your diners easier. Word-of-mouth marketing, customer reviews, and your online reputation are more important than ever—a one-star increase on the popular review site Yelp can boost a restaurant’s sales by 5 to 9% alone. Not to mention that online reviews have a positive impact on your search engine optimization (SEO) that helps your restaurant appear at the top of popular search engines like Google.
That’s where Localyser comes in. We help restaurant owners like you increase their sales by enabling them to generate and monitor reviews and respond to their customers in a better way. Schedule your free demo today and see how to increase restaurant sales without advertising.
Customer reviews have a direct impact on whether prospective customers decide to choose your restaurant from among the competition. It is imperative that you are aware of your customer’s feedback and the influence it has on your business and your online reputation.
The voice of the consumer has never been more important, nearly 75% of all internet users are active on social platforms and channels, according to various studies; they are using the likes of Google and TripAdvisor.