RestaurantsFor this #kTip, we discuss marketing strategies on how restaurants could scale their businesses by leveraging digital tools…

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Welcome to another #kTip from Kak Varley. How are you doing today? I wanted to talk about how restaurants can lean into the digital world…

Consumer Shaming

You’ll have to follow me along a bit here because there’s something that happened that made me think about this. Of course, we all know that restaurants have difficulty staying open right now. I was on Facebook the other day because I am a marketer, and there was a post on there that was basically shaming me for buying from Amazon.

Customer Acquisition and Retention

Keep in mind that I buy locally. I prefer to buy locally. And I belong to an organization that supports local businesses. However, when I started thinking about Amazon, I could only think about how well they do in the digital world. If you think about it, they are a brand name that everyone knows, so they always acquire customers.

And once you get there, it’s easy to find products, it’s easy to buy products, and they give you discounts if you buy a certain amount of products. If you get into Prime, then you get even more discounts. So you can see that they also do a great job of retaining clients.

Then I started thinking about this on the level of restaurants. Again, I love to eat at local restaurants. I prefer it. However, take Chipotle, for instance. They acquire me as a customer because they support my diet. On a retention level, they make it easy to find what I want to order. Furthermore, when I go there the next time, it’s a one-click order because they know my previous order. And then overnight, they offered free delivery during this COVID period, which is phenomenal!

The Small Business Struggle is Real

In contrast, I think about an Italian restaurant that’s within walking distance from me, and I love those guys. I love those guys!

They acquire people because they bring in bands during the weekends. So people like to eat, and they like to dance afterward. Friday nights are hugely popular for them! People come to eat and dance on a Friday night, and I love it. And I tell you what – it’s a good time. And because of that, they gain a good reputation in town.

But they also have a great ambiance. When you walk in, it’s a very comfortable place. Their food is consistently good. And their customer service is excellent because the owner (or manager) always stops by to say “Hi” and chat you up.

The Rub

So you’re thinking, ‘What does this have to do with Chipotle and Amazon?’ Well, again, they [Italian restaurants] are good at acquisition, bringing people in. And they’re good at retaining clients. But here’s the rub…

I like that place a lot! I’ve had a lot of good times there. And I tell you what – I think they’re going to close their doors. If they don’t, I’ll be so happy. But I’m telling you right now, I am scared that they’re going to close their doors, and here’s why:

You look at their website, and it doesn’t represent the business. It’s not that great. They are non-existent on social media. You can’t find them on social media at all.

I don’t think they’ve ever delivered before. I went to Doordash today to see if I could find them – not there. I went on to Google and discovered that they are doing pick-up right now.

So, they didn’t extend their business into the digital world. They didn’t scale out in case something like this happened. Of course, this is unprecedented. I get it. But because of that, I fear they might go out of business.

How Restaurants Can Lean Into the Digital World

So here’s how restaurants could lean into the digital world… Let’s take the Italian restaurant as an example. How are you going to bring people in? Is it coupons? Is it the discounts? Is it gift certificates? How are you bringing people in? Well…. Let’s ensure you present that on your website and all the social media channels.

Again, extend the business into the digital world.

  • If you have a great ambiance, make sure that your website represents that ambiance.
  • If you have great food, make sure you have professional photography of your food.
  • If you have excellent customer service, how about this one: have the owner and/or manager…maybe even the staff… do videos that talk to your clients or prospective clients?

And that’s just a few ideas, but I’ll tell you what, you’d be amazed at how many restaurants don’t do that today. And I want restaurants to succeed. There’s no doubt about it. So the number one recommendation is to extend your business into the digital world. It is okay to do that. It doesn’t hurt your reputation. You will benefit from this, and by the way, other people will benefit from this. You’re only helping people in the community if you extend your business into the digital world.

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Kak Varley
Kak VarleyChief Digital Officer
Kak Varley got the internet bug right at its inception. He started in 2015 to help businesses grow and scale using various sales and inbound marketing methodologies. With 25+ years experience in Sales and has certainly mastered the sales craft and now focuses on helping businesses grow and scale.