Let's be real. If I was to ever own a food place it would be called "Snack Trayz" with a bar of delicious cheeses, fruits, vegetables + dipping mustard. You'd fill your tray, weigh it at the end, pay and sit and enjoy the greatest creation on planet earth - the snack tray. (Patent pending, verbal trademark, please don't steal this idea!)
A food business is always something I can see myself doing later in life when Brooke and I are old and gray. Brooke loves to cook and I love to interact with people so, I think it would be fun. I also love the loyalty that comes with a food business. We have regular walk in love. shoppers, which is amazing! But even the "regulars" in other businesses like ours can't compare to regulars at a restaurant or food truck. The restaurant world allows you, as an owner or manager, to really build a relationship with your customers, which is just incredible!
Anyway, if I did own a restaurant, or food truck, here are some of the things I would do from a marketing stand point.
1. I'd Reward My Regulars Outside of My Reward Program 🎉
No one is going to talk about your eatery like your regulars. If someone is coming to eat at your establishment every day, or every week, make sure they know they are appreciated. Obviously, you can do things like the punch card that allows them to "buy 9 sandwiches and get the 10th free". But just imagine what that regular would do if you went beyond that. Imagine if you covered their meal from time to time totally unexpected. Imagine if the next time they brought a friend, you let them both eat for free. What if you gave them a free t-shirt or mug that you sell. I think too often in business we get stuck thinking that people have to "earn" something free. If you HAVE to buy 10 before you get 1 for free, are you really getting it for free? Feels more like you are earning it, right? I think the awesomeness about owning a food business is that food isn't crazy expensive, so you can give it away a lot easier than someone selling watches or cars. So, if I had an eatery, I would reward my regulars outside of my standard reward program. Just think about the last time you got something for free. My guess is you went home and told someone about it! Imagine if your regulars, who already like what you do enough to keep coming back, were not only talking about your fantastic food, but also talking about how well you treat them! Priceless.
2. I'd Set Up My Restaurant/Food Truck To Be a Social Media Paradise 📷
If I were to own an eatery, I would make sure that every aspect of it was geared toward being shared on social media. I would make sure my food looked beautiful, my packaging was clever and most importantly, that my space/truck was set up to make Instagrammers and Snapchatters salivate when they walk in, even before they started eating. I'd even go so far as to have a wall or area in my space (or on the back side of my truck) literally reserved for taking pictures of yourself with food. See example below.
If you are scrolling through your feed and you see a friend eating at some place that looks awesome, then you are probably going to want to go. So, if I was in charge of restaurant I would design the layout, graphics, space, etc. while asking myself this question, "Will someone Instagram this?" Not only do you start to get your customers to do your marketing for you, but you also get an endless amount of content to repost, share and engage with. It's a win win.
3. I'd Host Meet-Ups All The Time 👋🏻
I would host all sorts of meet-ups at my establishment -- Instagram meet-ups, Snapchat meet-ups + photography meet-ups, just to name a few. I would try to bring people together as often as possible, because food and conversation just go hand in hand. Whenever you have a party, the kitchen is the most sociable room and I would hope that my eatery would be the same. I would reach out to the famous and well known Instagrammers in my area and ask if they wanted to do a meet and greet some night with their fans. I'd have a "Snapchat Your Trip" night where I'd ask people to make their way to the cafe to eat and then Snapchat what it takes for them to get my space. Best snap-story wins free drinks for a week... or something. Again, I would try to get my customers to share on social because social media is going to spread the word about my food business. Every year Instagram has a world-wide meet-up and I would use that event and date, and others like it, to get people to my establishment. I'd incentivize the meet-ups with half-off menu items, as well!
4. I'd Use Facebook Ads 💰
I know I say to use Facebook ads in every single one of these "X Things I'd Do if..." but its because it works. I can't imagine if I were a food business and could direct market to people who lived and worked in the area of my eatery. If you are like me, you probably check your social before heading to lunch. I bet if I had an ad for a local restaurant show up in your feed before started lunch you might be pretty tempted to head there for a bite. Even if it didn't work 4 days a week, it might work on a Friday. I'd use "free drink with purchase" coupons in my ads to give people an extra incentive to come on in. What if the person you hook with a Facebook ad becomes a regular!
5. I'd Have An All Are Welcome Mentality 😀
I know that all restaurants and food truck owners who read this would probably say, "Isn't that a given?" And yes, you would think that would be a given. But how many of you reading this have been to a place to eat where they make you feel un-welcomed and dumb for not knowing how it works. I went into this coffee shop one time and the pretentious barista made me feel so dumb for not knowing what a certain drink was, so I will never go back. I would make sure that every single person that worked in my food space would go above and beyond to make suer every single person felt welcome. I was at a local spot a few months ago and I could hear two servers complaining loudly about their manager while I ate. Guess what? I don't want to hear how poorly a place is run by the jerk manager while I am eating food from said place. I would do my best to make sure my team knew how important it was to promote a fun, positive and happy atmosphere because surprisingly, there are places that don't... Seriously, how is that even possible when it comes to eating? It's literally one of the best things you can do in life.
Maybe someday I will use these tactics at Snack Trayz, but until then, I hope they help you as you grow your Food Truck/Restaurant. If you want me to share "what I'd do if I were" in your field of work or business, please comment on this post with the industry or marketing conundrum. I'd love to hear from you! Have a great day!