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The Perfect Sales Funnel for Restaurants
Why Big Business Wins
My heart broke for all the small local restaurants that went under during the pandemic. Big businesses, box stores, and corporate chains still ran their businesses. Big restaurants already had systems in place to reach their customers, let them know of changes, and were able to cater to an audience forced home.
My favorite mom-and-pop places had no way to compete.
And many of them closed their doors for good.
And now, we can all see we need to be more prepared for change. We need better ability to reach our customers. We need systems.
The System You Need for Your Restaurant Marketing
You need to stop focusing all of your marketing efforts on attracting new customers. Using a sales funnel, you can automate much of your marketing and work on not only attracting new customers but getting customers to come back again and again.
Sales Funnels for Restaurants
A sales funnel walks your customers through the customer journey, not just at attraction, but through their first purchase, their return to your restaurant, and even making them brand advocates for your business. That’s right; your customer can easily become your own marketing street team.
You may have thought that all of this would be great to do at your business, you may even have started to get this set up, but then something stopped you.
- Were you too busy?
- Did it seem too complicated?
- Were you scared to waste your time and money and have it not work?
All these thoughts are completely valid, and I totally understand why you would feel this way.
Some of these “complex” marketing strategies seem out of reach to your small business. But that is the key. They “seem” out of reach, but they are not.
What was once complicated and costly is now easier than ever to set up and manage. There are even done-for-you sales funnels that make it easy to set up. And the best part is once most of these systems get set up, they run themselves.
Why You need a Sales Funnel System for your Restaurant
As I mentioned, a sales funnel automatically walks every customer through the customer journey.
That means you map out your sales process, what you want customers to know, what you want them to do, what you want them to buy, and when you want them to come back. You even decide if you want them to refer or leave a review.
Once you have this all mapped out, your funnel does all the heavy lifting.
And each time a new person enters your funnel, they start at the beginning and keep going through it. And the next person that enters starts their own journey, and so on.
So you don’t have to send each person coupons or ask for reviews or tell them about the weekly special or the Sunday night football event. It’s all part of the funnel.
A Restaurant Funnel in 3 Easy Steps
I want to introduce you to the 3-step restaurant sales funnel process to attract more patrons, get more repeat visits, and get more reviews and referrals.
Sound too good to be true?
It’s not. And it’s totally doable for every single restaurant, cafe, bar, bakery, diner, eatery, pub, pizza joint, steak house, grill, buffet, take-out, and hole-in-the-wall alike. (oh, I LOVE a good whole in the wall)
And it all starts with attraction. BUT too often, a key piece of attracting new customers is missed. (more on that soon)
1. Attraction – Get them to know who you are
Every business needs to attract new customers in some way, and yours is no exception. And restaurant owners definitely have it easier than many other businesses as it is a very repeatable service. People got to eat.
And it’s not just the people that live near your joint, but people visiting or traveling through and if you’re lucky ones that travel to you. Breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks, drinks, deserts…you’ve got a lot going for you already.
Restaurant attraction methods
You have many options to attract new customers, including paid ads, coupons, contests, freebies, events, and more. But remember I talked about that missing key.
THE KEY: You’ve got to get an email address during your attraction phase whenever possible. Why?
Let’s say you hand out coupons on the street to passersby. Out of the 100 coupons you hand out, how many of them get used? How many go in the trash?
Even if the coupon is a great deal and worth a lot, it doesn’t mean they will get used. Meaning no new customer for you. BUT what if you traded that coupon for an email?
Even then, most will not get used, but you now have a way to reach out.
NOTE: here is where you say, “but I can post on social media and reach out there. I don’t need to get email addresses.” And then I sigh.
Yes, you can post to social media. However, organic (not paid) reach on social media is lower than ever, and it is only going down.
Brands and businesses that used to get a ton of engagement on their social media channels now get little to none. And even what is pushed out to your audience is not as interesting as the cat videos, family photos, and sensational “news” that it runs beside.
This means your announcement, coupon, invitation, or promotions rarely gets seen or acted upon.
BUT you know what does get seen? Email.
The Power of Email Marketing
Don’t believe me? Check out these email stats, but pay close attention to this one:
Email marketing ROI is 4200%
More than any other marketing channel. Probably combined.
That means every $1 you spend on email marketing will return an average of $42. That is amazing.
And email marketing is the glue to your sales funnel.
Ways Restaurants can Collect Email Addresses
You can collect new leads at:
- Point of purchase
- Coupons or offers on your website
- Sign up on social media
- Customer Loyalty programs
- Trade Email for Free WiFi
All of these email collection methods can be worked right into your sales process, social media strategy, and even at your location.
Now that you have attracted new potential customers, it’s time to convert them into paying customers.
2. Convert – Get New Customers in the door
The purpose of collecting email addresses is, so you have the freedom and power to connect with people that have shown interest in your restaurant. This means they are warm leads; they already know about you, even if they haven’t walked in the door yet.
Once you have an email list, you can reach out to that person and let them know more about your business and why they should come in.
RELATED: 10 Ways to Grow your Email List
Keep Your Audience Engaged with these Email Ideas:
Having limited-time promotions is a great way to get new people in the door and get others to come back in. It offers a new experience and a little FOMO to get people to act. Think of seasonal items, holiday specials, or other ways that some services, food, drinks, or deserts are here for a limited time.
Think Pumpkin Spice Latte. Every fall, there are fans that come out in droves for the PSL. What is your PSL?
There is no need to overcomplicate these events if you want to keep things simple, and remember there are no rules here; you make up what works for you. Having trivia on a usually slow day, live music, kids-eat-free, Taco Tuesday, Monday night football, Sunday brunch, or 2 for 1 drinks are all ideas that will get your inspiration flowing.
Just remember, don’t just give stuff away for free; you still need to make money.
People want to go out and eat and have a good time, and you do not have to go broke to get them in the door. When you make repeatable events, people have something to look forward to, something fun to invite friends to, and something that is share-worthy.
Restaurant Limited-time Coupons
Time-sensitive offers are always the best type of coupon to go with. Who cares about a $5 foot-long if it’s always $5? It’s when they may miss out that people start to act. Vary your coupons so that you can cycle through several offers so that people are more likely to act.
Don’t always send out a free appetizer coupon, or you’ll never get those that don’t care about appetizers. Or worse, you’ll get people only ordering appetizers when they have a coupon.
Restaurant Birthday Meals
People love to celebrate their birthday with friends and family and are more likely to have a larger ticket when celebrating something special, so a birthday club is an easy customer appreciation program to start. Your email marketing software will take care of all the details for you so that you can put your birthday program on autopilot.
Ingredients, meals, and staff
There is so much that we assume our customers know, and so we never share. Telling people about your ingredients, details about your dishes, and highlighting your staff are ways you can connect, stay top of mind, and remain interesting and notable.
There are so many reasons for you to email your list, and these are only a small handful. Need more ideas? Sign up for big chain email lists and see what they are doing.
How can you take their strategy and make it your own?
What can you do a little differently?
Remember the what is your PSL? The same thing applies here; make it your own.
3. Repeat, Review, Refer
Not only do all these ideas get people in the door, but they also get them in again. All of these ideas not only can attract those on your email list that have yet to come in, but they also all serve as a way to get people to come back.
What’s your goal of repeat business per person? Can you see how these ideas will draw them in again?
Get more reviews with Email
Email is also one of the best ways to ask for reviews. Patrons are quick to leave a bad review when service sucks, but they usually need a little nudge or two to leave a good review. You’ll find the best way to get more reviews is to ask!
You don’t want to do this too much, and you don’t want to ask for the same site every single time, so the key here is time and variety. Let me explain how this works.
First, figure out all the places you want more reviews.
Let’s say your list looks like this:
- Trip Advisor
That gives you at least 4 separate emails you could send out.
What if you vary them a little?
1. Share Highlight Share a screenshot of a Google Review you got recently, share how grateful you are, and ask for a review.
2 Be funny. I had a company once email me saying, “Did you know Monday is the best day to ask for reviews? We just heard this, so we’re testing it out.” I thought that was clever, I had never had anyone ask for a review like that, and I left one right away. How can you be funny or clever?
3 Be competitive. What if you said, “hey, we’re trying to get more reviews on Google than ______. can you help us out?” Or, “Stan says men leave more reviews than women, but I disagree. Can you help us figure this out? Leave a review here, and let the best man, or women, win.” It’s another spin on being funny, and people will like to help you win.
4 Brag a little. Have quite a few reviews? Celebrate a milestone. “You love us; you really love us! We are so excited to have 50 5-star reviews on Google. And that means more amazing customers like you can find us and enjoy our ______. If you’ve left a review, thanks from the bottom of our hearts. You mean the world to us. And if you haven’t, maybe you could help us reach 100! To the moon!”
5 Be Gracious. Just thank them for their support and patronage. “Did you know that we have the BEST customers in the Westside? For real, you all are the best. And we just want you to know that we appreciate you. And for those of you that have recently left us a Google review, I hope you understand how much that helps restaurants like us. Every review. Every photo. Every kind word is why we do what we do.” – then, link to leave a review.
6 Share a photo. Restaurant reviewers LOVE to take photos of their meals and add them to their reviews. You could easily find user-generated content to share. “Hey, look at this photo shared by ________. Photography skills are on-point. We’d love to see yours too! Leave a review and share your photos here. We can’t wait to see them!”
These are only a handful of ideas, be creative and make them work for you. If you made a few variations for each review site, then staggered them out you could have months of review request content without being repetitive (You don’t want email after email saying, “Please leave us a review.”) That will only get you tuned out.
Get People to Take Action
When you add a little creativity, make it a little entertaining with humor, stories, photos…then people act.
You could take this list of 6 ideas for each of the 4 platforms, mix them up and send out an email every other week. That is a year of review requests by email that you could automate in your funnel, without repeating anything for an entire year.
Restaurant Review Tips
A quick note on asking for reviews, these are important review tips.
1. Make it as easy as possible for them to leave a review – give them the direct link to leave it
2. Only ask for ONE thing at a time. Don’t say, “hey, review us everywhere!” It’s too much. One thing at a time. They are going out of their way, so be respectful.
3. Respond to every single review you get in a timely manner. Good ones too. Thank them by name every single time.
Get started with Your Restaurant Sales Funnel
As you can see, a restaurant marketing funnel will not only attract new customers, it will get you more repeat customers, more reviews, and save you time. So much of this can be automated, and once you set it up, it can run itself. And this is available for you, not just huge corporations. Not just chain -restaurants with deep pockets.
It’s less complicated or complex than you think, I promise.
The 3 steps to your restaurant sales funnel: 1. Attract, 2. Convert, 3. Repeat, Review, Refer will have you competing against the big guys in no time.
Don’t let another 2020 happen to you. Be prepared by putting systems in place now.
Be prepared with a restaurant funnel.
To get started, check out:
- Why Every Business Needs a Funnel
- Get Your Restaurant Sale Funnel Template
- Learn How to Create a Sales Funnel.
Need more help? No problem. I have Digital Marketing Coaching that is perfect for those needing more help getting their marketing funnel set up and running.
Here’s to the best restaurant sales funnel to grow your business!
Restaurant Funnel FAQ
Q: What is a sales funnel?
A: A sales funnel is a tool that helps businesses manage and increase their sales. It is a process of turning potential customers into actual paying customers, by providing them with relevant information and guiding them through each stage of the buying journey. It also is used to get more repeat business and more reviews.
Q: Why do restaurants need a Marketing funnel?
A: In order for a restaurant business to be successful, they need to have a sales funnel in place. This is because a sales funnel will help them to increase their sales and conversion rate. By having a sales funnel, restaurant owners will be able to track their progress and see where they need to make improvements. It will put much of their marketing on autopilot, saving more time and allowing resources to be spent on other avenues.
Q: What are the benefits of a sales funnel for a restaurant?
A: There are many benefits of having a sales funnel for a restaurant. Some of these benefits include:
1. More sales: Sales funnels will help to increase the sales of a restaurant. This is because it will provide a potential customer with valuable content and guide them through each stage of the buying journey.
2. Improved conversion rate: Sales funnels will also help to improve the conversion rate of a restaurant. This is because it will ensure that a potential customer is provided with relevant information and guided through each stage of the buying journey.
3. Better tracking: Sales funnels will also help to better track the progress of a restaurant. This is because it will help to identify where improvements need to be made.
About Digital Marketing Expert Torie Mathis
Torie Mathis helps entrepreneurs, like you, use digital marketing to grow your business without wasting time, money, or your sanity. She is a best-selling author, Army veteran, speaker + trainer, and your digital marketing coach. You don't need crazy tech skills, buckets of cash, or dedicated staff to market your business. In fact, you don't even need a lot of time. What you need is to be SMART.
Torie hosts SMART AF, a show for non-techy entrepreneurs looking to grow their business, with her husband Sean and is the creator of SMART AF Magazine. Learn from Torie at the Smart Arsenal and on her channel.
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Hi! I'm Torie!
I help entrepreneurs (like you) use digital marketing to get more clients + make more money. And I make it easy!
You don’t need crazy tech skills, buckets of cash, or dedicated staff to market your business. You don’t even need a lot of time.
What you need is to be SMART.
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