Updarted: 09/02/21

The Powerful Restaurant Marketing Plan Any Owner or Operator can Implement without an Agency

Last year the restaurant industry has lost over a hundred and thirty billion dollars in sales compared to 2019.

While many will quickly point fingers at the pandemic, there are still many businesses that were able to adapt to the conditions and make it by. Sadly, this wasn’t so much the case with the restaurant industry.

While many businesses have been moving to online sales, restaurants were slow to adapt to the digital world, an adaptation that could have saved many restaurants last year.

Today almost all businesses rely on the internet to find customers, and the restaurant industry is no exception.

A study done by the National Restaurant Association found that more and more customer’s are engaging with restaurants online and at the same time relying on digital platforms to choose where to dine.

To many restaurant owners, this can be a difficult challenge.

Are they to blame? Not really, digital marketing is something that specialists spend years learning and practicing. Not to mention, it is constantly changing. What tools and techniques apply today might not apply tomorrow.

Restaurant owners tend to spend years learning other things, like cooking or baking, managing personnel, scheduling, managing stock, and sometimes forget about customer acquisition.

No matter how important it can be to have a strong presence online so that new customers can come to them,  many seem to fall back and rely on word of mouth (this makes me cringe).

Many restaurants rely on word of Mouth, and here is the problem with that

Word-of-mouth is a concept that can be costing you, the restaurant owner, millions of dollars in revenue, and perhaps you have not even realized it.

For those of that don’t know, “word-of-mouth” is a term used in the business world to describe when someone who has tried a product or service refers that same product or service to someone else they know in an organic way(without you paying or incentivizing them to do it).

This leads someone else to become a customer of that same business and so on until it becomes a chain reaction.

That is why word-of-mouth seems to be put on a holy grail in the businesses world

You have probably heard  “There is no better marketing than word-of-mouth marketing.”

The fact is that this can be extremely misleading. 

Word-of-mouth seems much better than it really is because it is “comfortable,” it feels effortless, it can be free, and it can produce results but the big problem is that is based on  chances and luck.

You have to leave it to the fate that when someones eat at your restaurant, they recommend it to their friends, coworkers, and family members.

Chances are that this not always works out the way you want and your restaurant’s growth and success stalls.

The big problem with word-of-mouth marketing is that it is not predictable

Every business owner needs a predictable way to scale their business and grow. Every restaurant owner needs a predictable method to be able to fill the house with clients on a “slow night” or when sales are down.

That is because sales are the lifeline of any business, without sales, businesses can’t pay rent, hire professionals, invest in new equipment or real estate, and they can’t grow.

But what if I told you that you can actually take control of the so called “word of mouth marketing” and amplify it so that you can help your restaurant be discovered by thousand of people?

Well there is a way to do that and I talk more about it below.

Should I just hire a marketing agency then?

“I have tried working with several marketing agencies and I haven’t really gotten great results”

My guess is many reading this have heard this before or maybe experienced it themselves.

The problem is creating a brand, even if it is with a restaurant, does not happen overnight. It can take many years and money to become popular enough to simply open up a location and be making big sales right away.

So it might take a while for an agency to get the type of results a restaurant owner would expect for the price they pay.

Then there are other issues:

  • No strategy for sales: Many of these so-called “social media agencies” focus mostly on gaining followers and likes on social media without having a way to convert that into sales (if they even find the right followers). They tend to lack a strategy for sales.
  • No trackable results: Most of the time they don’t have ways to measure results and track whether or not their efforts are bringing the restaurant owner results
  • Unaffordable pricing: The good ones charge really high monthly fees, making it harder for local independent restaurant owners to work with them.
  • Dependency: What happens when a restaurant owner stops working with an agency? He or she has to almost begin all over again with another agency or simply do nothing.

Although the nicest thing to do is simply to delegate this responsibility to experts, sometimes, the best thing independent restaurant owners can do is start producing results for themselves.

I am not saying all agencies are bad or that it is never good to work with them but here’s the thing.

Unless a restaurant owner is ready to invest thousand’s of dollars a month and see the return on investment  in months or years, then it is better to have a strategy that restaurant owner can start implementing on his or her own.

A strategy easy enough to understand it can be implemented without too much technical knowledge  and can be taught to the team members so that some tasks can be handed to them.

So what can you as an independent restaurant owner do?

While there are thousands of ways restaurant owners can go about improving the efficiency of a restaurant, improving, cutting costs, improving the service, and more.

There are three main goals every restaurant owner should strive to achieve:

  1. Increase the number of visitors and diners (to hopefully always be at capacity).
  2. Increase the amount of money each visitor or table spends (ticket average).
  3. Increase the number of takeout and delivery orders.

Increasing sales and profits just about makes every other problem that a restaurant owner can have smaller and simpler to solve.

So what does that mean? It means it is important to take action now with these steps:

The steps even small establishments can take to obtain predictable success at an affordable cost

 1. Optimize the restaurant’s listings (or create them if necessary): Listings and their reviews are like modern word-of-mouth marketing, but with a lot more potential because billions of users have the ability to instantly get to know your business and see what others say about it without leaving their homes.

Although many customers will see your website, more than likely they will see one of your listings first to determine or not whether they should even consider eating at your establishment, and then maybe visit your website.

While Yelp is known as a popular restaurant review site, and many people use it to determine where they will dine, more people are likely to see your restaurant on Google My Business (the sidebar that pops up when you search for a business on Google Maps) than on Yelp.

Here is an example of what I mean. 

Google My Business Performance
Yelp page performance

As you can see from the results, Google My Business greatly outperformed Yelp in this restaurant’s listings while there was $5 USD a day being invest to Yelp ads while there was no advertisement being paid for Google My Business.

Even though the restaurant’s website can be found through Google, but what will have even more viewers is your Google My Business listing.

Luckily, a restaurant’s Google My Business listing can be optimized to help bring even more traffic and customers and you can be book a free consultation with me to learn more about this.

Once the restaurant’s Google My Business is optimized, the goal is to get on as many listings as possible, make sure you don’t miss these.


2. Get selling online: Generate extra revenue and reach more people by selling beyond your restaurant walls.

Ordering and delivery apps (Uber Eats, etc.): Try to be on as many of them as possible without depending on them.

Being on any of these platforms gives restaurants another opportunity to be discovered by a new diner, which can then become a regular. The goal is not to have them keep ordering through that delivery app because they charge up to 30% commission, the goal is to ha

Not every online ordering platform that you can place on your website is the same. Your restaurant’s online ordering platform should allow the following for best results:Generate extra revenue and reach more people by selling beyond your restaurant walls.

 3. Build a customer databaseBuilding a customer list is crucial to any business in today’s world but more importantly to restaurants because they all depend on sales volume through repeat customers.

It takes effort to gain new customers but it takes much less to bring back a happy customer.

That is what will allow you to reach out to customers and sell to them again and again with promotions, offers, events. Not only that but you can let them know when you have new hours, new dishes, and more.

There are many affordable and user-friendly tools to do this, these same tools also allow us to reach out to our customers when needed.

I have personally tried dozens of them and can actually recommend one that is super user-friendly and affordable. You can know which one it is and how to use it in my class which I will talk more about below.

A restaurant’s loyal customer base should have their:

4. Implement a strategy to monetize your customer database.

It’s not worth having a customer database if you don’t know how to monetize it and a customer outreach strategy allows you to do just that.

The Sales and Review formula, in particular, is a strategy that allows to reach out to customers

And establish a customer relationship that allows customers to turn into lifelong customers. 

Not only that, but it helps the restaurant book parties, events,  get more reviews, and bring in clients from the internet’s biggest platforms and have them come back over and over.

Many agencies will say restaurant owners need them in order to implement these strategies in order to accomplish these things but that is far from too.

With the user-friendly tools that there are today, many restaurant owners can learn how to get these things for themselves and not rely on word of mouth.

I actually put together a free class explaining more in detail how the Sales and Review formula works and how independent restaurant owners can implement it without the need for an agency.

You can learn more about the Sales and Review, read more about my free class and how you can sign up on the next page.

About the author

Jose Aparcedo - Founder of The Content Jar
  • Hi, my name is Jose Aparcedo, and I spent countless hours experimenting and testing the best tools for marketing restaurants so that you don’t have to.
  • I combine communication and marketing skills acquired after years spent in the television industry to help independent business owners take their business to the next level.
  • I have worked with hundreds of independent restaurants to help them efficiently expand their brand.