February 1, 2021  

Ordering takeaway and dining at restaurants is big business, accounting for the majority of people’s spending. Over the last 10 years, spending on restaurants and bars has grown twice as fast as retail - in 2019 Australians spent roughly $272 billion on food and beverages.

An industry with such growth automatically means massive competition for restaurants. Customers have countless choices in this day and age, which leave businesses with the difficulty of standing out in a crowded market place.

How Customers Discover Restaurants 

Online reviews and personal recommendations have an enormous effect on new customer acquisition. The majority of people are more likely to ask a family member, or friend for recommendations on places to eat and whether or not to pick a specific destination.

Following a personal recommendation, customers find online reviews extremely helpful in swaying their decision to dine at a particular establishment. The reasoning for this is customers trust the reviews of other customers over the word of a professional food reviewer.

Of course, it is imperative the content of the review provides the right kind of details to sway new customers, such as mentioning particular items on the menu. This gives an authenticity to the customer’s review which proves they truly enjoyed their dining experience.

The Survey Says

In a survey conducted by SquareUp, 1800 people were asked how they discovered a new restaurant and what would make them recommend that particular place to a friend, or family member.

The majority of customers said that Google Reviews are their go-to source for online reviews. It is no surprise there, as this is the first stop when a customer searches for a particular establishment. Underneath the restaurant’s business listing are all the reviews a person could ask for, and anyone with a Google email can add their own.

The next most popular methods for customer reviews were Facebook and Yelp with consumers stating they regularly check these websites for reviews, multiple times a week.

For 78% of surveyed customers, Facebook was their primary source when it came to social media reviews, with Instagram and Twitter trailing far behind. Facebook also now has a feature which provides users with an option to receive recommendations of various restaurants from their friends. More than a third of surveyed customers have exercised this feature.

Now, let us unpack the various ways to make your restaurant more discoverable, seeing as we’ve looked at the best places to reach customers.

Push for More Online Reviews

As evidence, people tend to trust the opinions of the general public over a seasoned reviewer. Therefore, it is imperative you have customers regularly leaving reviews, perhaps even ask them to leave a review after dining at your restaurant.

Further to this, it is important to stay active on your Google Review page and this means responding to all reviews, good and bad. This tells customers they are being heard and their opinions matter.

Remember, when it comes to any negative reviews, respond in a positive manner and attempt to rectify any issues.

Social Media Must Be on Point

Marketing in the 21st Century, especially now in 2021 requires a strong focus on social media marketing. Content on your social media platforms should be constantly updated and include relevant, as well as enticing posts. Social media provides the perfect platform where you can build your brand, so make use of it!

Apart from being great for brand awareness and bringing in new customers, social media can help with creating loyal returning customers. This can be through regular discounts, promotions, or offering buy one, get one free deals.

Search Engine Optimisation 

You cannot be everywhere at once, but location is an important factor when it comes to marketing. Local search engine optimisation is a critical aspect when it comes to your online presence. Say, if you are a Greek restaurant, your SEO needs to be on point so when customers search for ‘Greek restaurants near me...’ your business will appear in the results. To get this ball rolling, start by mentioning specifically where your restaurant is located on your website.

Of course, the other key ingredient here is to have your restaurant listed on Google My Business if you haven’t already done so.

Ask for Feedback!

Don’t be afraid to ask customers how they are and whether they enjoyed their meal, or experience. Consider creating written feedback cards, or perhaps a Point of Sales system which requests customers provide feedback. Employees can also provide informal feedback they receive verbally from the customer.

Getting feedback is immensely important as it allows you to provide the best customer service possible. As mentioned earlier, it’s so important to develop loyal customers because they are the ones who will continue to return and promote your restaurant via word of mouth, or social media.

It’s this word of mouth that will help new customers find you