By Nick Fosberg   |   June 27, 2012

Keep Your Bar and Restaurant Successful in a Poor Economy

Everyone’s taken a big hit over the past few years, with the economy in a tailspin. Many businesses have closed and some continue to struggle. The good news is, despite the downtrodden economy, customers are still flocking to bars and restaurants. Whether it’s that they want a night out, or they want to put their economic troubles behind them, or they want to get lost in a game on a big screen TV, or have a few drinks and have a good dinner away from home, people continue to want to escape and take their mind off of things. The difference is they may be doing it a little less than usual. So how do you raise your customer base and keep your bar and restaurant thriving in an economic recession? Well, here are a few ideas.

How to Get More Customers, Have Them Spend More & Come Back More Often

Even though it’s a poor economy, operation costs continue to increase, and as a business owner, you still have to provide exceptional quality to your customers. One of the most important aspects to doing this is knowing what your customers want.

The interesting thing is most bar and restaurant owners actually have no idea why their customers are coming back, or why they aren’t, despite the fact that doing so would seem to be common sense. For your business to be ultimately successful, you need to know what works, what doesn’t, and what people would like to see more of. Your customers are your livelihood, so you want to hear what they have to say. Plus it’s a tried and true fact that connecting with your customers & building relationships is one of the best ways to increase business. A survey is an excellent way to go about this, and you can always offer an incentive to help elicit more of a response.

Not all customers are the same; some don’t care if your chef or bartender studied at the finest establishments, but a majority of them actually will. If you have a reputable chef, use this to your advantage. You’ll find the quality of your food and beverages will provide an extra push in getting customers in, particularly if you offer them at reasonable prices. Use low-cost marketing tools like newsletters and social media to keep your customers informed of your various promotions and offer incentives through them as well. Remember to always reward your customers for being good customers—that alone will keep them coming back.

If your establishment is geared towards it, try doing some interactive promotions that get your customers involved, like a burger cook-off, where customers compete to make the best burger. If you run a sports bar, do pools for sporting events. If you lean more towards the finer side, try offering VIP clubs & memberships to lock in a regular customer base.

New customers are equally important, and you want to always aim to get more, but it’s your repeat customers that will be your sustenance. Gear your marketing plans towards them. Once you understand why they’re returning, you’ll be able to gauge your best strategies. Your repeat customers will also often bring friends or guests visiting from out of town along with them, or they may even pass along information about your place to strangers looking for a new hangout. So make them your target base.

And one of the most important things in a bad economy is to always keep your prices reasonable. Even if you’re an upscale restaurant, be competitive. Everyone loves a good deal, and your customers will certainly appreciate it.

Nick Fosberg

Nick Fosberg is known as one of the highest paid, marketing and promotional consultants in the bar & restaurant industry and he owns 2 bar / restaurants in the Chicagoland area. He's famous for creating some of the highest grossing digital marketing promotions in the history of the bar & restaurant business..... without spending a penny on marketing. All done through e-mail & Facebook posts. 

Click here to get a free copy of my latest book.

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