Restaurant Franchise Marketing Experts

What’s for Lunch?
Four Quick Tips for Restaurants

We have all been there. You might be there right now while reading this. It’s late morning, your stomach is growling and your co-workers are starting to chatter about what to do for lunch. Chances are, you all have favorite lunch spots that pop right into your head, and depending on where you are, you likely have a wide variety of options available to you.

For a consumer, so many options are great. For a restaurant, more dining options means harder work to capture those potential hungry customers.

A few facts to consider: There are 660,755 restaurants in the U.S. 40,000 new restaurants opened between 2016 and 2018, and restaurants are growing at nearly two times the population rate. From fine dining to casual dining, fast casual, QSR and even “grocerants” – there is no shortage of places for consumers to consider having lunch. And lines are being blurred between the categories – fast casual is speeding up service to compete with QSR, QSR is increasing food quality to compete with fast casual and everyone is competing with grab-and-go grocery store options.

Diners choose where they will go based on several things:

  • Positive past experience - their standard favorites they frequent most often
  • Reviews - online reviews and recommendations from friends are key parts of the research stage
  • Convenience - is it nearby, do they deliver, can I order online and pick up?
  • Type of food - new options, new “fusions”
  • Cost - is there a promotion or special deal?

So how does a restaurant stand out, become part of the consideration set, and, ultimately, get chosen as the lunch hot spot?

Here are four quick tips:

1) Online reviews

According to a TripAdvisor survey, 94% of U.S. diners will choose a restaurant based on online reviews, so it’s time to take your reputation management seriously. Monitor your reviews, offer solutions if there is an issue and always engage with customers in a positive and non-defensive tone. Potential customers are paying attention and they will get turned off by non-responses and rude responses.

2) Keep it fresh

LTOs (limited time offers) and new product introductions give consumers a new reason to try your restaurant, or to come back again. Just look at the recent Popeyes Chicken Sandwich craze. They went from off-the-radar to most, to lines out the door thanks to a simple new product introduction (and some well-placed tweets).

3) Targeted Marketing

  • Social media posts and ads with great food photography and smart targeting is key. Zagat reported that 75% of diners who browse food photos have chosen a place to eat based on social media.
  • Everyone’s looking for a story these days, and YouTube/digital video is the place to tell yours. With a variety of video length options available, you can tell a mouthwatering story that’s sure to bring in the diners.
  • Targeted mobile advertising during peak decision-making hours will get your brand more awareness. Promote your delivery, online ordering and new product offerings with strong calls to action and clicks to call to order now.

4) Convenience

Consumers crave convenience, and the rise of online ordering, delivery and curbside are prime examples of services restaurants can offer to make them rise to the top of the option list. Make sure your website is optimized for mobile first, is easy to navigate, and your online ordering button is prominently placed and takes minimal work. Offer simple pickup options for online orders and offer delivery – either your own or through a third-party delivery service.

Bottom line is consumers have a lot of choices, so make sure your restaurant is top of mind at lunch time by taking note of these tips.