8 Must-Try Restaurant Growth Hacks For 2021

8 Must-Try Restaurant Growth Hacks For 2021

2020 seems to not be a favorable year for everyone, especially for businesses in general and for restaurants in particular. According to statistics, about 17% (corresponding with approximately 110,000) of America’s restaurants have already permanently closed this year, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Additionally, the results from a survey of 6,000 restaurant operators revealed that 87% of full-service restaurants reported an average 36% drop in revenue in the States. And the industry is in further danger. So, as 2021 is already around the corner, it’s high time restaurateurs came up with new strategies to recover from the crisis. And we’re here to help! In today’s article, we’ll give you 8 must-try restaurant growth hacks for a fruitful 2021. This is our early Christmas and New Year present for restaurateurs like you!

Restaurants are closing due to the COVID-19 pandemic

Build a memorable mobile campaign

This restaurant growth hack is taking the power of mobile devices and mobile apps, so-called mobile marketing. The raising of mobile platforms is undeniable, however, to be able to stand out from the crowd, restaurateurs need to bring their mobile marketing campaigns to the next level. Simple growth hacks such as leveraging vanity and curiosity can do this. What we’re talking about is not the “downloading this app for a free drink” or “sharing this Instagram post for a 10% off coupon”. Remember, building a mobile marketing campaign is simple, but creating a great one requires creativity and sensitive common sense. 

Restaurant growth hack: mobile marketing

One of the best mobile marketing campaigns in 2019 by Clio Awards called the name of Burger King – a quick-service fast-food restaurant. The idea is surprisingly simple: Burger King offered a Whopper for only 1 cent, only when people open their mobile app at McDonald’s. Leveraging a geo-targeting marketing campaign, plus a great sense of humor and creativity, Burger King thrived at a dizzily rapid pace:

  • Turned more than 14,000 McDonald’s into Burger King restaurants.
  • Jumped from #686 to #1 mobile app in 48 hours on both iOS and Android.
  • Reached 1.5 million downloads in 9 days.
  • Tripled mobile sales during the promotion.
  • Doubled mobile sales ever since.
  • Reached the highest rank of store visits in 4 years.
  • Achieved 37:1 return on investment rate.
The Clio Grand award - The Whopper Detour mobile marketing campaign by Burger King
The Clio Grand award – The Whopper Detour mobile marketing campaign by Burger King

Actively promote your signature dish on social media

When it comes to getting your target audiences to know your restaurant, digital presence is always a decent option from the very beginning. This 21st century is the digital marketing era, so why not make the most out of your social presence – the most versatile and popular element of digital marketing?

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The reality shows that there are two major kinds of diners. Some diners will come back to their favorite restaurant for its signature dish, and some diners will try a new restaurant for their overly curious palate. As a restaurateur, you, obviously, want to get both through your door. To achieve that, what you can do is actively promoting your signature dish on your social media.

Why social media? Because such robust platforms facilitate various dynamic content forms including high-quality images, GIFs, and videos. With that being so, you can easily upload images with an attractive palette and send rich notifications. There’s no need to try to cram your image with all of your dishes. Sometimes, your best signature one with an eye-catching background is enough to catch users’ attention. 

Taco Bell has a way of using colorful images to entice consumers
Taco Bell has a way of using colorful images to entice consumers

Other than images, digital marketing has been witnessing an upsurge of videos lately. Thus, it’s fruitful to incorporate videos on your social media networks. After all, videos are more believable and lively than still shots. 

Offer an irresistible loyalty program

Research has shown that 30% of restaurants offer their customers a loyalty program, and 57% of adult consumers are more likely to dine in a restaurant with a loyalty scheme. As one of the simplest yet most effective restaurant growth hack, having a loyalty program is worth mentioning. Research shows that loyalty schemes benefit restaurants in more than one way: 

  • More new guests: 82% of loyalty program members referred to at least one person. 
  • Higher ticket averages: Loyalty members spend an average of $2.14 more than other guests. 
  • In-depth customer data: When a guest enrolls, you can capture information about them. With such information, you can have insights about how to serve your diners better.  

However, with the huge crowd of restaurants providing a loyalty program, it’s decisive to make yours stand out: 

  • Try a digital restaurant loyalty program
  • Keep your restaurant loyalty program simple and transparent
  • Give meaningful and valuable awards
  • Train front-of-house staff on the loyalty program
  • Give your customers FOMO (fear of missing out)
  • Promote your restaurant loyalty program everywhere, especially on social media
Starbucks - the coffee giant - has one of the best loyalty programs
Starbucks – the coffee giant – has one of the best loyalty programs with the ease of gaining and redeeming reward points. Even better, their rewards are worthy. 

It’s also helpful and handy to adopt a POS system with a built-in loyalty program feature. It helps you create a meaningful loyalty program and manage it properly. 

Manage reward points with ConnectPOS
Manage reward points with ConnectPOS

Use technology as much as you can

This is a restaurant growth hack that you might think is just for the big-budget companies but actually is not. Technology nowadays is not something luxury, but an everyday thing. As restaurateurs, you can simply provide free wifi access to customers, build a web, or have a mobile consumer app, etc.

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If you can afford more advanced technologies, then there are plenty of options for you to enhance your diners’ experience significantly. With that, ultimately, you can strengthen your relationship with them and sell more. Some great examples of technologically advanced systems that can be applied in restaurants include AI facial recognition, AI-based waiters and waitresses robots (this is extra favorable in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic), self-service kiosks facilitated by a POS (point-of-sale) system, etc. All these technologies can be supported in many cutting-edge POS systems. 

One of the five robot waiters at Robot Restaurant in Bengaluru
One of the five robot waiters at Robot Restaurant in Bengaluru

Provide unique dining experiences

Well, there has been a long-standing notion as well as a great restaurant growth hack is that if you can’t be the best, then be the only. Providing your diners with a unique and one of a kind dining experience is what you can try to make your restaurant business stand out. 

A great example of such an intriguing restaurant is SafeHouse Milwaukee which is a restaurant and bar in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, United States. Although the outside of Safe House restaurant doesn’t look like much, when patrons say the password and enter, diners are suddenly transformed into spies and given a mission. 

With Safehouse Milwaukee, you, as diners, can explore the city’s best-kept secret since ’66. Even the moderately priced menu features appropriately named items like “Checkpoint Charlie” and “Double Agent.”

SafeHouse Milwaukee is a restaurant and bar in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, United States
SafeHouse Milwaukee is a restaurant and bar in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, United States

Start a blog

Starting a blog is one of the most worth-trying restaurant growth hacks. Restaurants can use a blog to disseminate and update any news related to the food & beverage industry, introduce new dishes, or help audiences with everyday recipes that they can cook at home. As a result, restaurants can harbor a close-knit community and increase customer loyalty. 

More than that, blogging is such an effective and powerful marketing tool. However, it doesn’t receive as much attention as it deserves. It is a form of content marketing that helps restaurants with everything like improving organic search rankings. It assists in building your website’s SEO, leading to more free traffic. 

Chip’s Restaurant’s blog
Chip’s Restaurant’s blog

Additionally, every blog post creates a new landing page for your audiences to find you with, which helps expose new users to your brand. Therefore, as restaurant business owners and operators, it’s your benefit to ensure a well-managed blog. Such a blog is capable of maintaining frequent and consistent publications with high-quality content. This helps keep your audience always intrigued and engaged. 

Take advantage of user-generated content (UGC)

UGC is any content created by unpaid contributors. They can be either your customers, enthusiastic fans of your restaurant, or simply anyone that can contribute to your digital content creation. The forms are diverse from images, videos, GIfs, polls, giveaways, blog posts, testimonials, or anything that costs you no money to contribute to your restaurant content. 

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UGC has become such a digital marketing buzzword that it’s one of the can’t-miss restaurant growth hacks. Furthermore, UGC campaigns have the ‘domino effect’ as they are an inherently easy way to get content and engagement from a large number of audiences. 

Starbucks’ #RedCupContest which asked consumers to post their daily dose of coffee on their special red cups for the holiday season garnered almost 40,000 generated content on Instagram.

Starbucks’s Red Cup contest on Instagram
Starbucks’s Red Cup contest on Instagram

Become number one dominatrix

Well, as discussed earlier, “if you can’t be the best, then be only”. But being the number one is still decent, isn’t it? However, if you find it tough and unachievable to become the restaurant with the best cuisine, the best customer service, or the most beautiful view, then you can totally be the number one in something else. 

For example, there is even a ‘slowest restaurant in the world’ – REALtimeFOOD – in Osaka, Japan. It really sounds absurd. It’s even getting weirder that the restaurant has no food, no tableware, no cooking. Just a few waiters, and vague menus with items like “meal with vegetables to be grown 500meters from your seat”. The cost? You can pay 700 yen (~$6) for a plate, sounds reasonable and clear enough, right? However, things can get as vague as the menu. The restaurant also lets its customers stop by the garden where their food is being grown anytime in the next five weeks to earn meal credits. The food here is basically “grown to order”.

The world’s slowest restaurant - REALtimeFOOD in Osaka, Japan
The world’s slowest restaurant – REALtimeFOOD in Osaka, Japan (Source: Final Straw)

So the key is to not be afraid of being the purple cow in your market. Like Seth Godin explains in his book ‘Purple Cow’, an ordinary cow can’t get anybody to stop in the middle of the highway. But a purple cow definitely can. People will not only stop but also take pictures, post the pictures on their social media, making a buzz out of it. So, be the purple cow in your market, no matter how absurd it might sound!

Final thoughts

So, we’re reaching the end of today’s article as well as the end of 2020. We hope that with the little present we gave you today, you can try at least 1 of the 8 great restaurant growth hacks to make your 2021 more promising and profitable. The mentioned tips include:

  • Build a memorable mobile campaign
  • Actively promote your signature dish on social media
  • Design an irresistible loyalty program
  • Use technology as much as you can
  • Provide unique dining experiences
  • Start a blog
  • Take advantage of user-generated content (UGC)
  • Become number one dominatrix

If you’re interested in such intriguing and meaningful content, follow us closely and visit our blog page every day for more informational articles like this. We, ConnectPOS, will always be your tech-savvy companion on the way to your business success! Contact now for any further questions!

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