Getting Started

Whether you are a single store owner, multi-unit owner, or part of a larger franchise, there are a few marketing-related best practices that almost always ensure success.

Have a Plan

The first step is to establish a goal… and then create a plan to achieve it. It is best if you have a plan with specific benchmarks and defined objectives to succeed. #localmarketplanning

It is one thing to say that you are going to accomplish something, it is quite another to follow through and do it. A beneficial plan is like a road map that helps you to stay on course.

Consider Your Location

Let’s say you have a quick-service restaurant, and you want to create an increase in new customers and generate increased frequency from your existing customers.

First, look at your location and think about the four dayparts when customers want to eat (breakfast, lunch, snack, and dinner).

Why consider your location? Location can be a major factor in developing a marketing strategy for these dayparts. What may work best for your location may not work best for others.

Look at a Few Examples

  • If you have a shop that is located near several businesses downtown with many employees, you have a legitimate shot at winning in all four dayparts.
  • Many city-based workers get to work early and stay late. Some are looking to grab a quick-bite they can take back to work. In this case, you can increase customers and frequency by directly marketing to your existing customers.
  • If, however, your business is in a shopping center in the suburbs, your main opportunity for growth may be limited to breakfast and lunch. And, if your business happens to be buried in the corner of a shopping center with little or no street visibility, you shouldn’t count on a great deal of breakfast business… better to concentrate on lunch, snack, and maybe dinner.

Thus, the saying location, location, location.

Establish Differentiation

Create Opportunities

  1. BOGO

For those who come in for lunch only, giving them a BOGO offer can incentivize them to invite a co-worker along. In addition to gaining another customer, you benefit from a higher check.

The average test for a well-structured BOGO is generally much higher than the average check. It would help if you also gave these customers an incentive to try your breakfast, snack, or dinner. There are services available that execute this action for you automatically, being one source.

  1. Promote Specific Dayparts

If you are not readily visible and convenient to commuters, then don’t plan to spend a lot of time and marketing dollars to promote breakfast. Instead, be a great snack resource for customers and employees of the shopping center seeking a boost or bite around 3:00 pm daily. You may want to create a dinner special or bundle offer that will be attractive to this same group.

  1. Catering

Think about catering to local businesses, schools, churches, and teams. Catering can be a great source of revenue. But, like anything else, you’ve got to work it to develop a loyal following who will keep reordering if you provide exceptional service.

  1. Menu Customizations

It is all about Price Promotions and New Product news when it comes to competing in your local community. Remember, you and all of your competitors are vying for the same customers. Whether you offer discounts or create or leverage a local delight or favored meal, menu customization is a sure-fire way to increase potential sales.

  1. Sponsorships

Getting involved in a local cause is an easy way to demonstrate that you actually care about the community you purport to serve. Favorable customer perception through sponsorship of local initiatives will help you to stand out in your community.

Stay on Track

Ok, so back to the plan. Ask yourself two simple questions:

  1. What are your strongest and weakest dayparts?
  2. Do you have a strong lunch business, but not much else?

Once you decide where you have the best chance to expand, plan to do just that. Track your daypart sales before and during your plan so that you know if your local marketing strategy is working and so that you can staff your operations accordingly.

You have got your shop up and running… now you’re ready to attract customers. Great. Now think about how you’re going to do that.

Explore local media, how and when to use it to reach new customers and how to develop more visits from existing customers.

Amplify Your Message

Before You Advertise

Advertising can help but before you invite folks to the party, be sure your house is in order and that you are providing the best service. Otherwise, your advertising could have the opposite effect by increasing your number of bad ratings on social platforms like Yelp. Wait until you’re in a position to provide the best possible service imaginable.

Traditional vs. Digital Advertising

The use of traditional advertising (Radio, TV, Billboards) is considered more of a broad base tactic to build overall awareness and drive traffic and is best used by higher volume or multi-unit operations.

If you are part of a national brand, this is usually the purview of the corporation. If you are a high-volume dealer, you will most likely use both traditional and digital media to achieve a significant impact.

Digital advertising is an excellent way to reach specific audiences right where they are likely to see your message. You can customize your messaging to appeal to specific customer profiles and geo-target neighborhoods, reaching only those prospects around your shop.

Locally, you want to focus your spending in a very targeted way, aiming your messages at people who are most likely to frequent your establishment. For example, an auto mechanic can target messages to older car owners within a specific mileage range of the shop.

Targeted Messaging

Targeted messaging can be done using:

  • Search engine marketing (SEM)
  • Over the top TV (OTT)
  • Facebook
  • Other digital channels

These channels give you the ability to geo-target your messaging.

Don’t Spend Advertising Dollars Foolishly

All too often, business owners spend advertising dollars impulsively. Don’t just scrape together what money you have and spend it on whatever you like to watch, listen to, or read. You are most likely not representative of your target audience. In addition, if you don’t have enough money to make an impact in the right medium, you are squandering ROI.

The Right Way to Plan

We helped the Subway brand grow its business in California, Nevada, and Hawaii. Years ago, when a group of franchisees came to us and told us they wanted Subway to become a household name, our answer was, “Great.” Then they told us how much money they had to invest. It would have gotten them some media exposure for sure but not enough to make an impact.

We started them on a savings plan that allowed for the accumulation of enough money in their ad funds to generate the momentum needed to succeed. Today, many of those franchisees have sales volumes that far exceed the company’s national average.

When we began working with Bay Alarm Company, our plan was to reach homeowners while they were away from their homes. We arranged for a rapid transit billboard campaign that commuters would be sure to see with messages like, “Headed to Work? So Are the Burglars.”

We added radio to the media mix once we saw that the plan was working, which ultimately generated several leads. Today, we use a combination of digital and traditional media to accomplish specific goals.

Local Advertising Action

As Calvin McNeely once said, “The way to win at local advertising today is to deliver a meaningful message to the right people, when, where, and how they want it.”

Be smart about when and where you place your advertising.

  1. Begin with a plan. A plan will keep you on track so you will know where you’re headed.
  2. Be disciplined. Sticking to your budget and don’t jump into impulsive and costly advertising decisions.
  3. Set specific KPI (key performance indicator) goals. Without measuring your KPIs, you will not know which channel, media, or particular ad is working or not working. Measuring KPI goals will help you adjust your advertising to be as effective as possible. #localmarketplanning

In addition, it is critical that marketing and promotions designed by the franchise for franchisees are actually employed locally. Such initiatives expand brand awareness and contribute to the ultimate success of the franchisee. Creating local franchisee buy-in, however, can be tricky… it is about appealing directly to their bottom line.

Single store and multi-unit owners and larger franchisees should take the time to review and employ actionable marketing-related best practices that support their distinct business development endeavors. Creating a comprehensive plan that includes geographic considerations, traditional and digital communications, community involvement, and the requisite discipline needed to stay the course, measured by KPIs, will allow you to navigate the changing landscape and increased competition of today’s restaurant market.