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7 Ideas to Attract New Restaurant Customers

To draw new and return guests, dish up these ideas that are sure to bring in new business.

Two of the main factors that decide how long a restaurant keeps its doors open are new and loyal return guests, according to restaurant point of sale software company Lavu.

You might have the best food in town, but if there are too few guests, then you will never grow your revenue,” says Lavu. “The trick is bringing in new customers all the time. If you know how to do this, you’ll build a thriving, steady business.

If you want to get the word out about your restaurant and bring in new customers, try these seven ideas for attracting new guests and gaining their loyalty for return visits.

1. Invest in quality photos

Website design and online ordering software company Restaurant Den suggests hiring a professional food photographer to bring out the best in food items on the menu, for marketing and online. “Use these images all over your website, social media and in other advertisements to get people craving what you offer,” says Restaurant Den. “Photos are shared most often online and will attract new customers to your restaurant.”

2. Provide free Wi-Fi

Guests may want to catch up on work, scroll social media or simply read while they wait for their food to arrive. So, offering free Wi-Fi in your restaurant may be the factor that brings guests to your restaurant instead of going to your competitors.

3. Offer discounts and specials

More than half (54 percent) of potential restaurant customers surveyed say they’re encouraged by coupons and discounts to try a new restaurant, according to “Appetite for Loyalty,” a report on restaurant customers’ preferences by Vericast, a marketing solutions company.

Ideas for discounts and specials include buy-one-get-one-free specials on select menu items, daily specials, print and digital ads and coupons and value-priced food and drink combo meals using profitable food items.

“Coupons, deals and discounts — whether print or digital — tip the scales on restaurant decisions (47 percent) over recommendations from friends and family (46 percent), says the Vericast report.

4. Schedule live music

“Everyone loves a little dinner entertainment,” says Restaurant Den. “Scheduling live music consistently at your restaurant brings people in the door as it gives you events to promote and makes your restaurant look like the place to be.” Plus, showcasing local musicians shows that your restaurant is invested in the community.

5. Host fundraisers and events

Hosting fundraisers with local charities and nonprofits draws guests who’ve not yet experienced what your restaurant has to offer, says Lavu. If weather permits, set the fundraiser or event up in the parking lot to pique the interest of people walking or driving by.

For example, partner with an animal rescue group for a pet adoption day or host a fundraising event for a battered women’s shelter, local charity or other organization.

6. Promote your restaurant on social media

More than half (56 percent) of millennials and Gen Zers (51 percent) search online for discounts and coupons to restaurants, according to the Vericast report. And more than one-quarter (26 percent) of millennials and 28 percent of Gen Zers say they’re most likely to be swayed to try a new restaurant based on social media recommendations.

Regularly promoting your restaurant, along with specials, discounts and scheduled entertainment on Instagram, Twitter, Tik Tok, Facebook and other social media platforms can bring in new customers who turn into regular guests.

7. Host wine or beer tastings

If your restaurant serves wine and/or craft beers, host a weekly, bi-weekly or monthly wine or beer tasting event. Advertise the event inside the restaurant, on social media and on your restaurant website.

“Hosting a wine tasting event brings people together inside your restaurant for a new experience. They’ll be able to taste different wines that you serve, learn how to properly drink wine and develop a new appreciation for it,” says Restaurant Den.

“You’ll also be giving people who otherwise wouldn’t be there a glimpse of what you have to offer. Put on a good event and they’re sure to come back.”