Best Ways to Fill Out Your Restaurant Without Devaluing Your Product

First of all, nobody likes to see a restaurant half empty, whether it’s the guests or the employees. So, when and if your restaurant is struggling to fill those empty seats, there needs to be a strategy in place. There’s a direct relationship between success of the restaurant and the amount of filled seats for many reasons. If guests come and see that the restaurant can’t successfully fill out, they may be hesitant to come back a second time, especially if their experience isn’t perfect. To strategize how to keep your restaurant full, you need to consider reaching out to guests who have never been in, but also to those who have been guests several times. The mix between re-marketing to previous guests and finding new guests can make a significant difference in how many empty seats you experience on a given night.


Events to Keep Guests Intrigued

Hosting events is an excellent way to keep the seats in your restaurant filled. Not only does it give guests something new and exciting to experience, but it also gets your guests talking. When guests come to the restaurant for an event, perhaps a Chef Swap, they will almost always leave with new knowledge and experience to talk about associated with your restaurant. Who doesn’t want guests leaving their restaurant with plenty of praise?

The prime example of an event to host is a Guest Chef or Chef Swapping event. In short, this is when a special guest chef comes to your restaurant to prepare a selection of meals that are uniquely his or her own. This gives guests the opportunity to potentially meet and interact with the chef, but also a chance to try a new cuisine in your restaurant. In other words, your guests will have plenty to talk about.

Other events include cooking classes, wine tasting events, and special menu events that can all be promoted through the sale of tickets to create higher demand of your tables. Some restaurants sell the tickets at very low prices, which actually devalues their restaurant overall. Make sure to use an appropriate price of tickets for sale based on your target audience and quality of the event. Essentially, if you and your staff can be creative to give your guests a reason to come to the restaurant due to something besides the typical experience, there is a much higher chance of filling out your seats. To find out more about Chef Swaps and Guest Chef experiences, read our blog: 4 Key Reasons for Restaurants to Incorporate Chef Swapping.

Social Media

Many restaurants use social media as a means of communicating with their guests. Due to the popularity of social media and the high traffic that Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram see, promoting certain aspects of your restaurant on these channels can make a huge difference.

One way to do this would be to release exciting information and promotions to your social media followers first to thank them for following and staying up to date with your restaurant. Another way to increase traffic both on your social profiles and in your restaurant would be to drive people to your social media through e-mail campaigns. For example, giving guests a free glass of champagne or other small token of appreciation for liking your Facebook page or mentioning your restaurant on Twitter through an email with links to those profiles. When guests are reminded about your restaurant on the platforms they use daily such as email and social media, the chances of them coming into the restaurant are higher. To find out more social media tactics for your restaurant, check out our blog: 5 Effective Ways Restaurants Use Instagram.

Special Promotions and Menus

Every restaurant experiences nights when there just aren’t very many people dining out. Mondays and Tuesdays in particular are the days of the week where restaurants see a lull in business. Fortunately, there are ways to get guests to dine at your restaurant on these slower evenings. One effective way to do this is to create special, lower priced menus for the slow nights of the week.

Guests who typically wouldn’t dine out on these nights may have more incentive to try your restaurant if there is a ‘special’ reason to – i.e., a menu designed for only Mondays and Tuesdays with some lower priced items.

Another fun, engaging way to fill seats on slower nights is to offer guests to come in and test new menus for a special price. This gives customers an incentive to try new foods at your restaurant, and also gives you immediate feedback on your menu transitions.

Many restaurants use the tactic of offering a free glass of champagne with a reservation on certain nights of the week to give guests an incentive to choose their restaurant over others on these nights. Perhaps Thursdays or Fridays are good options for this since many people dine out on those evenings.

Ultimately, your restaurant’s success in filling out seats is dependent on how willing you are to try new promotions and events to get an idea of what works– and what doesn’t. There are always slow nights of the week, so taking advantage of them to try new things is a great opportunity for growth and engagement with guests. Avoid using discounts as a way to fill out seats– they devalue your products and your restaurant as a whole. If you offer a certain dish at a lower price than usual, your guests will recognize the depressed value of your product and be reluctant to pay more money for that dish when it’s not discounted. Sticking to promotions and events to keep your guests engaged is a safe and efficient approach to filling out any empty tables in your restaurant.

Mads Borst