How to Use Marketing to Increase Chain Restaurant Revenue

Chain restaurant employees using marketing t increase chain restaurant revenue

| Mar 8, 2023

Marketing plays a critical role in increasing revenue at your chain restaurant. With rising competition, chain restaurants are under pressure to improve their marketing strategies to retain customers and grow sales. 

At its core, marketing aims to reach the target consumer and build a connection that keeps consumers coming back. Start your marketing efforts by identifying and defining your target audience. Keep your audience in mind as you read our guide to chain restaurant marketing, and see how these strategies can help reach your specific audience. 

Understanding Marketing Strategies for Restaurants

Great food and service mean more if people know your restaurant exists. Marketing strategies for chain restaurants use promotion and engagement techniques to attract local consumers and persuade them to dine with you. More guests coming to you means more profit for your business. 

Marketing for restaurants includes events, promotions, advertising, menu and website design, customer loyalty programs, branding considerations and more. You can initiate and maintain several marketing strategies to get the most out of your marketing efforts.

Why Marketing Strategies Are Important to a Restaurant’s Success

Customers no longer rely on familiar restaurants nearby for dining options. Food delivery services, search engines and social media have made it even easier for people to discover and try new restaurants. 

To remain relevant, invest in marketing strategies that keep you in the mind of potential diners and highlight your value. One of the most important reasons to invest in marketing is competing restaurant owners are already doing it.

Key Strategies for Marketing Your Chain Restaurant

Luckily, many effective marketing strategies, such as having a social media presence and maintaining a high-quality website, are relatively inexpensive. Explore our list of key strategies and learn how to market your chain restaurant effectively.

Chain Restaurants Utilize Google Business

Utilize Google Business

The first and arguably most important step to take when creating a marketing plan for your restaurant is setting up your Google Business profile. A Google Business profile includes information like your restaurant’s name, address, phone number and business hours.

This profile will allow your restaurant to be found in search results and through Google Maps and knowledge panels — boxes of overview information that sometimes appear on the side of a search.

To make your Google Business profile helpful for searchers and effective for your marketing efforts, follow these tips:

  • Follow Google guidelines: Google provides guidelines for creating a business description. Following these guidelines will make your profile more useful for searchers, and Google is more likely to boost profiles that align with their rules.
  • Consistently review your profile for accuracy: If your profile information is inaccurate, potential customers may call the wrong number or visit the wrong location. Routinely check that your profile displays correct business hours and other information that may change periodically. 
  • Add a link to your website: Google users may be looking for more information than your business profile can provide. Adding a link to your website allows users to learn more about your business, and it’s always great to drive more traffic to your website. 
  • Include high-quality photos: Adding photos of your restaurant’s atmosphere and cuisine gives users a better impression of your business. Don’t just tell users your food is delicious — show them.
  • Provide an online menu: Some searchers won’t have the time or desire to go to your website to review your menu. Providing an accurate copy of your menu in your Google listing allows users to quickly review your food options so they can decide if your restaurant is the right fit for their dining needs.
  • Add reservation links: Make things as easy for the user as possible. Give the option to book a reservation right from your business profile so searchers can avoid the hassle of accessing other sites or calling.

Invest in Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

Each month, Google receives over one billion searches related to restaurants. The most popular search is, “restaurants near me.” As this method is a popular way to find dining options, you need to ensure your restaurant appears in the results for these queries. 

Using SEO will help your restaurant appear for these local searches. Having a lot of online reviews is one of the best ways to help your SEO efforts. Some other best practices for implementing local SEO include:

  • Review and update your Google Business profile.
  • Ensure location keywords are present in your website URL.
  • Optimize your web pages for SEO by including relevant keywords.
  • Include a Google Map of your location on your website.
  • Regularly publish high-quality content, such as blogs that are relevant to your local community.
  • Ensure your website has a quick loading speed.
  • Populate your website with high-quality pictures and alt text, the written description of images.

Create Active and Engaging Social Media Accounts

Consumers like to research restaurants options before committing to a reservation or visit. They’ll be looking for your business on search engines like Google, but they will also be looking for you on social media. 

Social media lets you share your business’s personality and engage with patrons. Share quick announcements like events, specials or closures. Your social media accounts add a personal touch to your restaurant, especially when you highlight employees. When patrons can learn about and connect with employees, they’ll feel an emotional connection to your business.

Allow comments on your social media to receive feedback and talk with customers. A customer may comment on a post praising how the food looks — comment back and invite them to stop by for dinner. Naturally, negative comments may pop up. However, seeing businesses professionally resolve issues can build trust between the establishment and other patrons.

Of course, a staple for social media in the restaurant industry is photos of food and drinks. These photos will show social media users the type of food available at your chain and hopefully get them craving to try it.

Users might share great social media posts, which allows you to grow your reach. Boost your reach by running social media contests that encourage users to share and follow your social media for an entry to win a prize or discount.

If your establishment is part of a larger chain, brand your social media accounts appropriately and make your specific location clear to followers.

Restaurant Makes Instagram Worthy Food

Make Your Business Instagram Worthy

From the way dishes are plated and presented to photo-ready backdrops, you want your restaurant to be Instagram-worthy to your customers. Instagram-worthy simply means diners will share their experience at your restaurant with their social media followers. 

Encourage people to post about your restaurant by giving them visually appealing meals or drinks or an area in your restaurant that offers a great background for photos. Creating an aesthetically pleasing atmosphere may include updating your current restaurant furniture. You might restyle your outdoor dining area to suit your chain’s brand while creating an appealing backdrop for pictures. Choose outdoor dining sets with stylish finishes that encourage diners to get a photo with their meal, for instance.

When patrons post pictures from your restaurant, they will most likely tag your social media account or at least mention your restaurant’s name. Sharing any posts made by customers provides you with free marketing and is also a great way to interact with patrons.

Push Loyalty Programs

Loyalty programs are a great way to entice new people to come to your restaurant and encourage repeat customers. A loyal customer base is a great asset to your marketing efforts, as they’re more likely to talk about their great experience with your business, which gives you word-of-mouth advertisement — one of the most effective persuasion tools.

Building a loyal customer base can be easier with a loyalty program. Rewards from loyalty programs such as a free or discounted item can entice customers to repeatedly come back to your restaurant to earn their rewards. 

Digital loyalty programs also allow you to collect information on patrons, such as their birthdays and ordering habits. This allows you to better connect and market to individual customers. Consider sending loyalty program members a reward on their birthday or tailor ads to include information about their regularly purchased items.

Run Discount Campaigns 

Everyone loves a good deal, and that includes your customers. Sometimes, all you need to get customers through the door is a good discount or coupon campaign. Different types of discounts you may consider implementing include:

  • Buy one get one free
  • Delivery discounts
  • Percentage discount on selected items
  • Happy hour deals
  • Discounts available only during certain sporting events

As with every tip, keep your audience in mind. Families would appreciate buying one kids meal and getting a free one if they have multiple children. College students would take advantage of delivery discounts to get a meal while they’re busy studying.

Focus on Local Ads

When developing advertisements, focus your efforts on distributing the ad locally, especially if you only operate one establishment in a chain. You’ll want to verify your ads are being seen by the people who are actually close enough to visit your business. 

Specifically for digital ads, determine the locations you would like to run your ad. If your restaurant is in Texas, having your ads run in other states won’t bring you much business. Get even more specific and provide cities or zip codes for where the ad should run. Networks such as Google Ads, Snapchat and Facebook all offer geo-targeted ads.

Restaurant Develops an Appealing Website

Develop an Appealing Website

Before choosing to dine at your restaurant, potential guests will most likely look you up online. If they are met with a low-quality website, they may question the quality of your establishment. Your site should be visually appealing and easy to use. 

Especially when it comes to your online menu, make sure a high-quality, digital version is available for users. This digital menu should be compatible with mobile devices so users can easily read the menu on their phones. Additionally, your menu should be easy to find on your website — don’t bury your menu on a random, hard-to-find page. 

As a chain restaurant, there might be a general, franchise-wide website. Review your options for creating a location-specific website or location-specific page on the main site. This allows users to view any of your offerings that differ from other locations. You might offer unique menu items, have an outdoor dining area or provide discounts other chain locations don’t, for instance. If a website or website page is not an option, use social media as a tool to allow users to interact with your specific restaurant.

Engage With the Community 

Building a great relationship with your community will positively impact customers’ perceptions of your business. Also known as corporate social responsibility, building goodwill within the community aligns your restaurant with the area’s values. When people agree with a company’s values, they are more likely to support the business.

In fact, 77% of consumers prefer to support businesses that show a commitment to improving their community. Additionally, 55% of consumers globally say they don’t mind paying a bit more for products or services from a business that is committed to creating a positive impact. 

Engaging with the community can happen in a variety of ways. Sponsor local sports teams to get your name advertised and show your support for local players and their families. Other ways to be active in the community include:

  • Partner with a local charity to donate a portion of proceeds from a specific menu item.
  • Host fundraiser nights where a portion of all proceeds is donated.
  • Run a clothing and toy drive around the holidays to donate to those in need.
  • Encourage volunteering as staff bonding activities. 
  • Include local artists’ work in your restaurant.

You could also focus your engagement on environmental efforts. You might run an anti-littering campaign focused on keeping your local area clean and post information about it around trash and recycling receptacles

Encourage Reviews and Respond to Them

Reviews are one of the most important ways to boost awareness and interest for your restaurant. Consumers tend to trust reviews over marketing messages from the business. Reading about other guests’ positive experiences makes consumers feel more confident in their decision to dine with you. 

Positive reviews are great, but at some point, you could get a negative review. A crucial marketing strategy is replying to negative reviews in an empathetic, sincere and positive way to earn back guests’ trust. 

When responding to negative reviews, acknowledge the reviewer’s frustrations and concerns, empathize and see things from their point of view, and state what steps you will take to address the problem and prevent it from happening in the future. It’s also a smart idea to thank the reviewer for their time and feedback. 

Meanwhile, things you’ll want to avoid when responding to negative feedback include:

  • Replying with copy and pasted responses: Copying and pasting responses shows consumers you do not take the time to listen to your customers. 
  • Using generic phrases: Phrases like “we’ll look into the problem” can seem insincere, and it will appear you are not truly investing in fixing the problem.
  • Responding to the review in private: Taking responsibility publicly is the best way to handle negative reviews. This shows consumers you care about your guests’ experiences and are actively working on the problem. Responding to the review privately, or asking the reviewer to contact you directly, can be viewed as deflecting, and it does not offer you the chance to redeem your business.

Join Food Apps and Mobile Delivery Services

Food delivery apps continue to rise in popularity and offer consumers a new, easy way to enjoy their favorite meals. Frankly, if you are not offering delivery on popular mobile apps like Uber Eats, Grubhub, Postmates or DoorDash, you’re missing out on revenue. 

Similar to a Google search of “restaurants near me,” these food delivery apps show users available food in the area. Users can search specific restaurants, look at different food categories or browse the local options. Some apps also offer the option for users to pick up their take-out orders themselves. Consumers love the convenience of ordering online from their phones. If you don’t offer easy mobile ordering, customers may turn to a competitor who does.

Create a Consistent Brand

Whether you operate multiple chain locations or just one establishment, you want your brand to be consistent with the whole. Your marketing messages should fit the tone of the overall chain — is it fun and family-oriented, edgy and youthful, or sophisticated and upscale? Consistent messaging makes your restaurant more memorable to customers so they keep coming back.

Take that tone and apply it to how your website looks and the photos and content you post on social media. You can also renovate your restaurant inside and out to stylishly match whatever your brand is and use the renovation in marketing messages. A homey, relaxed restaurant would suit picnic tables outside for diners, while a chain bar could benefit from outdoor benches in your brand’s color for patrons to relax on.

Update Your Restaurant's Outdoor Furniture With Wabash Valley Site Furnishings

Update Your Restaurant’s Outdoor Furniture With Wabash Valley Site Furnishings

Your marketing efforts will help get customers through the door, but high-quality outdoor furniture will provide comfort and luxury that will make them want to stay. First impressions are everything, and if potential customers see outdated patio furniture, they may rethink their decision to dine at your restaurant.

At Wabash Valley Site Furnishings, we offer a wide variety of durable, beautiful furniture that can even be customized to meet specific needs and branding. Browse our collection of outdoor restaurant furniture to start creating an Instagram-worthy outdoor space today.