Industry-Specific Solutions in the Restaurant Business
Seasonal factor and specific features of the industry players
Marketing in the restaurant business can be conditionally split into 3 types: for restaurants with and without food delivery and separately for food delivery. Just as many other industries in Russia, restaurants feel shrinking profits together with spring thaw and a season of vacations while the upturn is always brought along by falling temperatures and approaching New Year. A surge of profits occurs in the industry in late winter-early spring when there are gender holidays in Russia.
The marketing communication channels chosen by market players here vary greatly depending on multiple criteria: target audience, visitor traffic and business model. Restaurant advertising of one kind or another is presented perhaps on all carriers. This is TV for largest chain establishments, distribution of POSM–materials and internet advertising for delivery, out-of-doors advertising and BTL for absolutely all types of restaurants andendless advertising possibilities inside the trade floor. Competition is very big – and with it the level of “advertising noise”. SMS-notification is also used by restaurants. This tool gives an advantage of a closer, more intimate and targeted customer contact providing service outside the restaurant room.
Database collection for restaurants with different business models also differs drastically. Establishments servicing customers in the rooms only and not offering any food delivery will have a harder job to do: collecting consents is possible only when a customer comes into the room and makes an order. In spite of certain limitations imposed by a specific nature of the restaurant business, like limited time of order taking and discreet service requirement, there are effective ways to source the required data. Among the best performers is the method which was tried in the retail sector: issuance of discount cards that must be activated through a corporate web-site or by sending a message to a short number. Another way is to put in the bill folder a flyer offering a discount on next cheques, which can be used in exchange for subscription to SMS-messaging. There is a more innovative and economic way: collecting consents on the WI-FI connection start page.
Food delivery suggests that a customer is interested to leave his/her exact contact details, the only thing that remains now is to motivate the customer to receive SMS-messages. A highly effective way of motivation in this case is a gift or a discount. For example, when the order is being made through a call-centre, a customer may be offered “instant gifts” in the form of an additional dish for his/her consent to SMS-messaging.
Pizzerias make an active use of POSM-materials attached to pizza boxes because they are aware of their product peculiarity: the box is kept until the pizza is eaten up. For web-site orders it is enough to include a check-box with the required information in the order form.
According to the law, subscribers have to confirm their consent to receive bulk messaging. Such consent has to be explicit – that is the customer must realize what he/she consents to and clearly identify him/herself in doing so (leave his/her name, signature, mobile phone number and e-mail). Filled in customer information forms are deemed to be confirmation of consent, and they must be kept permanently as web-site logs, electronic copies or paper documents. If consents are collected via SMS (e.g. by sending a message to a short number), they are kept permanently with the provider of an SMS-messaging service. A customer phone conversation recording may also serve as confirmation of consent.
Restaurants offering food delivery services make an active use of SMS for service information. The customer receives notifications on all stages of the order and then gratitude and loyalty program account balance if available. Restaurants servicing customers only on their premises send out service messages mainly about the movement of points under loyalty programs. All restaurants invariably leverage holiday occasions to communicate with their customers. Birthday, New Year or Shrovetide greetings are in fact promotion of restaurant services.
Customer base segmentation and segment-based message personalization may increase messaging effectiveness manifold. This is true for any industry and both for service and promotion messages. The minimum data required for the database segmentation is customer distribution based on the average cheque and shopping frequency. By singling out narrower segments, i.e. based on the preferred dish category, you can achieve a greater offer personalization and ultimately a high conversion into sales. In the case of “off-line” restaurants this segmentation supposes CRM integration with cash register software. For restaurants with an on-line service this requires slight adjustments on the web-site.
Promotion messages of restaurants contain quite diverse information: actions, discounts, menu changes etc. There are categories of restaurants that bank on cultural program: performances of artists and comedians, discos etc. Others guided by their audience inform about the “happy hours” – actions for certain dish or drink categories. It is mainly restaurants and bars that account for the majourity of blocked messages: advertising alcohol is prohibited by the Law “On Advertising”.
A restaurant’s customer service is one of its key advantages. Yet sometimes it becomes a weak link. Marketing strategy must be translated by the personnel in the first place. However in practice waiters are often ignorant of current actions and menu changes. An effective way to communicate information to each employee is via SMS-messaging. It is read in 98% of cases unlike e-mail with its 30%. SMS-notification also helps to control the financial side of the business: cash register equipment may secretly send data on daily revenues to the manager.
However big your restaurant is: a small coffee-house or a large establishment for 1,000 seats, it will always have customer satisfaction at the heart of it. A skillful use of SMS-notification is another way to secure it.