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Catch the Wave(s) of Pent-Up Demand

The Perfect Storm: Cabin Fever Meets Lifted Restrictions
These days, it doesn’t take much to influence people to get out of their homes after being pent-up inside them for almost a year now. No longer is the discussion about getting “dressed up” for dinner, just getting out of your PJ’s is an event to celebrate. People are looking for almost any reason to simply “get dressed” and leave the house. With the COVID vaccine being administered to more individuals, and State restrictions starting to ease, it is only a matter of time before all restaurants will get the green light to go back to full-operating capacity and, more importantly, the vast majority of people will feel comfortable eating out again.

This unique set of circumstances, restrictions being lifted, pent-up demand, and a new sense of freedom, will create a wave of opportunity for the restaurant industry the likes of which has hardly ever been seen before (think post war years but in our digital age). To capitalize on it in both the short-term and, more importantly, the medium-term, will require some planning and focus. The first wave will hit irrespective of what you do, but for longer term success, the smart restauranter will not just take the business that comes now but also focus on growing their digital audience for the future by effectively promoting their business to create brand loyalty and amazing experiences for their returning customers. 

Ultimately the first wave will crash high on the beach for everyone, but you will need to capture the subsequent waves and that is how to guarantee long-term success and higher profits for your restaurant.

Paddle Powerfully to Catch It
Audience growth and effective promotion in a sea of restaurants bidding for your customers’ attention comes down to the customer experience. That experience begins before your customers even set one foot inside your door through your digital presence (website, social media, and reviews). With over 3.8 billion active users worldwide, social media and other digital channels pack a power punch in terms of audience reach and effective promotion when utilized strategically and creatively. It's worth remembering that 75% of consumers admit to making judgements on a company's credibility based on their website design, so let’s make sure we make a good impression now while people are planning their escape from their kitchen!

Some helpful tips when using social media and other digital channels are to capitalize the use of videos and photos that show customers the experience they can look forward to at your restaurant. This can include the menu items, friendly staff photos and videos, a video of the Owner/General Manager talking about the experience, the ambience, little details around the restaurant, specials, events, and much more. Growing your audience with social media is possible when video and photos are paired with enticing headlines, hashtags, and boosted to reach a larger, cabin-fevered audience just yearning to have an enjoyable dining experience away from Netflix.
Your website should mirror the experience your social media conveys with ample photos of menu items and the restaurant’s interior and exterior. Once on your website, it is important to have online ordering as an option for individuals that want to pick-up or get delivery. While this is particularly true right now due to the pandemic, there has been a customer mind shift in this space that will not revert to the old way of thinking even when the pandemic is over. It’s easier for your customer to order from you online and if you don’t offer it, they won’t order and strangely enough this could translate into less physical visits too.

Following the theme of convenience, your online ordering menu should be easy and intuitive for folks to use and you need to be efficient in your service delivery. There is also a massive upside to offering online ordering that goes way beyond todays orders (that’s so long as you don’t just offer it through the third-party marketplaces) and that’s the customer data you collect. Talk about a gold mine; every online order includes the email address of a 100% qualified existing customer. That is almost worth a free dinner, nevermind a tiny monthly software fee. Not to mention you keep 100% of all your order value when you use your own licensed solution and promote it on your own website and through your social media channels and let's face it, nobody wants to give 20+% margin away no can many afford to do so.

Ride that Customer Wave

Once you’ve caught the wave of customers coming through your door, your audience growth can crescendo with positive experiences and the utilization of technology to collect customer information. In addition to great customer service and delicious food, offer your customers free WIFI but use Gated WIFI  to make sure you get their email information for further communications and deals. Offering an eClub sign-up (digital membership to your restaurant) for special discounts and events can be a fun way to create more loyalty with your customers. Don’t forget to have other easy ways to collect customer data like surveys on the table or a fishbowl for customer business cards with a prize each month (that sort of thing).   

Likewise, let’s build the digital excitement as this customer wave happens. Offer a prize for the best Instagram photo of the week, collect reviews and publish positive ones, or simply connect with customers in any way you can and use those media channels to grow that digital audience. Most restaurants don’t have the resources and time to monitor, track, and schedule all digital marketing activities, especially once they’ve collected customer data. That is why we recommend finding a good restaurant software  solution that can automate and integrate your digital presence and data all into one place, because the most important part of a customer’s experience along wiht the quality of the food is the feeling they get before, during, and after their buying experience.

Don’t Wipe Out
It’s the little things about a customer experience that can be make or break a restaurant even in a climate of high-demand restaurant-goers. Failing to collect customer data, promote your restaurant effectively, and the failure to pay attention to your customer’s needs can throw your restaurant off its metaphorical surfboard faster than a surfer with vertigo in a hurricane.

Proactive Tip: People like to feel seen and heard, so that basic concept should be translated into your restaurant also. Meaning, if they don’t feel seen or heard in your restaurant, they might find a different outlet to express their experience. If you are unable to physically interact with a customer, don’t forget to read and respond to positive and negative reviews of your restaurant because reputation matters  in an ocean of restaurants competing for customers.
Hang Ten Always
It doesn’t matter if you’re a food truck, virtual kitchen, diner, or a fine dining restaurant, creating the ultimate customer experience will distinguish your restaurant from your competition allowing you to ride the wave.

Need Help Catching a Wave?
Don’t spend hours on digital marketing, use your time to delight your customers. For help making sure your restaurant is catching the wave to a great customer experience, click here for a free demo  that allows you to curate the ultimate digital experience for your restaurant all in one, easy-to-use place.


Blog Author: 

Lacey McDaniel, Spillover Digital Marketing Manager
Q: What do you look for in a restaurant before ordering or your visit?
A: Right now, I check out their food on Instagram and look to see if they have outdoor seating pics. Also, a firepit is a plus. 
Q: What is your favorite meal?
A: Veggie pizza with a Mexican Coke.