There’s a direct relationship between the success of the restaurant and the number of filled seats. 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 doesn’t meet their expectations.
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 remarketing to previous guests and finding new guests can make a significant difference in how many empty seats you experience.
And what about getting customers in on a slow Monday night? Your diners need a reason to go out of their ordinary routine and visit your restaurant. That often means offering something other than just great food and a memorable guest experience… like a special event, an add-on or a promotion.
If you’re looking for the best ways to fill seats in your restaurant, keep reading for 5 of our favourites below.
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. And word of mouth is a great way to build your brand.
When guests come to the restaurant for an event, perhaps a demonstration by a guest chef, they will almost always leave with new knowledge and experiences to talk about. And who do they talk to? Your future guests. Who doesn’t want customers 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.
Other events include cooking classes, wine tasting events, and special menu events that can be promoted through ticket sales. Some restaurants sell the tickets at very low prices, which devalues their restaurant and the experience. Use an appropriate price based on your target audience and the quality of the event.
If you and your staff can give your guests a reason to come to the restaurant due to something besides the typical experience, there’s a much higher chance of filling out your seats.
Worried about no-shows for your next special event? Don’t be. See how Europe’s top chefs put a stop to last-minute cancellations here.
Many restaurants use social media as a means of communicating with guests. Due to the popularity of social media and the traffic that Facebook, Twitter and Instagram see, promoting certain aspects of your restaurant on these channels can make a huge difference.
One idea is to release exciting information and promotions to your social media followers only. Do this as a way to thank them for following and engaging with your restaurant. Another way to increase traffic both on your social profiles and in your restaurant is to drive people to your social media through email campaigns.
Try giving guests a free glass of champagne 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, the chances of them coming into the restaurant are higher.
When a guest walks into your restaurant, they are there to spend – not window shop. Your goal as a restaurant manager or owner is to help the guest have the best possible experience and maximise revenue.
Make sure your servers and bartenders can upsell and offer suggestions to each guest. How do you do that? Access the guest’s data. If you already know that they like red wine at a certain price point, then don’t spend time offering lower-priced wines.
Suggestive selling isn’t salesy or pushy, either. Think of it as an actual service for your guest. You know what they like, and you’re able to take that information and make suggestions on other items based on that.
With Superb, guests can even preselect upgrades and add-ons during the reservation process. This gives you plenty of time to prepare for their visit and make the most of each experience.
Every restaurant experiences nights with few diners and empty tables. Mondays and Tuesdays often see a lull in business.
Fortunately, there are ways to get guests to dine at your restaurant on these slower evenings. One effective way is to create special, lower-priced menus for the slower 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 – like a free beer with your order, for example.
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 gives you immediate feedback on new dishes.
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. 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 and capitalise on your social media and guest data.
Take advantage of the slow nights and try new things. It’s a great opportunity for growth and engagement with guests.
Guest data is the single most effective tool you have to fill out your restaurant. With Superb, you’ll have access to what your guest’s favourite dishes are, what wine they prefer, allergies, dietary restrictions, and even special events.
With this information, you can offer invitations to guests to return to your restaurant for their special celebrations, birthdays, anniversaries, holidays and everything in between.
Where will they go if you invite them and make them feel welcome? To your restaurant.
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 recognise the decreased value of your product and be reluctant to pay more money for that dish when it’s not discounted.
Instead, stick to promotions and events. This keeps your value high and still helps your restaurant fill empty tables.