2020 has been an extremely difficult year for restaurants and restaurant owners. COVID-19 restrictions have limited both hours and pay for everyone in the restaurant industry from waiters to head chefs. However, more than business and income alone, perhaps the most important thing restaurants have been faced with losing this year is their valuable relationship with their long-time customers.
Luckily, however, we live in a world where communicating digitally is at the forefront of almost everyone’s skillset, and thanks to restrictions of contact and in-person gathering, it’s become the number 1 way to communicate. Because of this optimized use of technology, restaurants have found a new way to market. It begins with the simple act of sending a text.
How are phones changing restaurants?
Text message marketing has given brands and businesses a new way to reach their audiences, and now, restaurants are beginning to catch on to this new marketing technique. Text messaging has been an easy way for restaurant owners to take orders, alert for delivery, and even stay connected with their customers.
If you’re a restaurant owner who’s still not yet convinced of adopting messaging as a new marketing strategy, here are 8 reasons why you should:
1. Every Customer Has A Phone
Perhaps the top reason to implement SMS marketing for restaurants is that literally everyone going to order food or pick-up food owns a phone. More than that, a large number of customers – almost 81% – search for a restaurant’s location, online menu, and order for pickup links through their mobile devices. Taking advantage of the fact that all your customers have a phone is the perfect way to market to them.
From companies moving their employees to work from home and schools moving to online classes, using technology to keep our lives going has never been more evident, and while running a restaurant and making food is an in-person job, marketing through messaging is a great way to grow your business.
You also have an increased chance of expanding your customer reach than you would from doing business in person because reaching larger numbers of people through messaging in a digital world can be easier than networking in person.
2. Restaurant Text Messaging Establishes Trust
Similar to email marketing, restaurant text messaging is a great way to reach your customers on a personal level. Messaging is one of the most direct ways to get in touch with your customers, and if you’re a restaurant owner who is passionate about connection, building customer relationships, and being remembered throughout your neighborhood or community, restaurant messages can help you keep that connection alive.
Messaging is a powerful tool, especially if you have a good sense of what kind of customers you have ordered from your restaurant. If you know that a younger demographic always orders from your restaurant, you might realize that using jokes or gifs can make your messaging to them a bit more friendly and personal.
By doing this, you get your customers to feel valued, understood, and even entertained which can lead to an increase in business and customer loyalty.
3. It Grows Brand Awareness
Building brand awareness through messaging is one of the top reasons why a restaurant can benefit from this kind of marketing. Believe it or not, you’ll be able to use restaurant texts to not only give your customers the chance to be alerted when their food order is ready, but you can also utilize messaging to update them on what’s going on with your establishment and business.
If you’ve got a brand new menu item that you want to share with your most loyal customers, you can send them a direct text, letting them know what’s new and when they’ll be able to order it! Similarly, if you ever have a promotional offer on selling baked goods or desserts, like cakes or pies, restaurant texts are a great way to get the word out about your business.
More and more people will learn about your business this way, growing brand awareness and your customer reach.
4. It’s A Contactless Way To Communicate
One of the greatest things about SMS marketing for restaurants is that it helps them establish a connection to their customers without having to see them in person. Though an in-person presence is what makes mealtimes and dining out a memorable and lively experience, the world’s current safety restrictions are preventing many from doing so.
However, by sending restaurant texts to your customers, they don’t have to lose that experience completely.
Not only will they be distanced six feet away from you as they place their mobile order, but you’ll be able to still provide food and run your business without having too many people crowd your premises during lockdown.
5. Texting Is The Preferred Way To Communicate
As so many more people get used to working remotely, there’s no doubt that the average human’s preferred way to communicate is by text. Nobody ever picks up their phone anymore and many phone calls get ignored or get sent straight to voicemail. By using restaurant text messaging, you won’t end losing customers over phone call spam.
Be wary, however, of your marketing technique when it comes to the actual content of your messaging. Think of how annoying and inconvenient it is when your email inbox is only full of promotional material. It keeps you from seeing your most important emails.
For this same reason, you’ll want to ensure that your restaurant texts are simple, concise, and straight to the point. Just as people prefer texting over phone calls, they also prefer not to waste time, so don’t become a marketing spammer when you can become a sufficient restaurant texter.
6. Gain Customer Feedback
For those who value business growth and constant improvement, you’ll understand that running a business and finding success can only come from customer satisfaction and feedback. The great thing about using messaging as a marketing tool is that you can reach out to your customers for feedback too. Asking questions through a text with something as simple as, “How was your dinner?” or asking for a rating between 1-5 stars on the dessert they just ordered is an amazing way to learn about how to improve your services and products.
Restaurant texts can go a long way in finding out what customers think about your restaurant’s service. Think of it as a customer satisfaction survey, but more direct and personal.
7. Restaurant Text Messaging Is Easy To Use
For both the customer and the restaurant owner, text message marketing can be simpler than it sounds. Customers get information on the status of their order through a simple notification. A few lines in a text will inform them of whether they need to wait longer for their order or get ready to go pick up their food.
In turn, messaging makes it easier for owners of the business to increase their marketing strategies. Different software and systems can help you to set up scheduled texts at any time. Whether you hope to let your customers know about a promotional dinner for two once every month, or if you want to send them a morning reminder to pick up their coffee, sending the message is essentially already done for you.
Setting some time to sit down with your business partner, marketing team, or someone you know who is good at technology to plan out your texts over a few weeks will cost you less time than crafting out every message to every customer. Mass texting is like making a public service announcement, but more conveniently for both the speaker and receiver.
8. Establish Customer Loyalty
At a time where it’s difficult to gather with family, relatives, and friends during mealtimes, it’s important to realize that your customer’s relationship between your business and food can be more impactful than you think. During trying times, people develop their favorite new dishes and comfort foods.
If an item from your restaurant becomes that valuable to a customer, use their satisfaction and appreciation for your products – turn it into loyalty. Send restaurant texts to them to invite them to order the dish they rated 5 stars again. Messaging is another great way to keep your customers coming back to you for more and to grow their loyalty to you.
It doesn’t matter if your establishment is a simple coffee shop or if you’re experienced in fine dining. At a time where people are longing to connect, using technology to maximize that connection is key. Families, parents, millennials, and even teenagers miss going out to eat with their loved ones. With the holidays approaching, you might even be at an advantage to implement a messaging strategy now to help draw more customers to your business this winter.
Should you switch?
Despite everything going on in the world, messaging has been the one way we’re all staying connected and communicating. Marketing strategies like restaurant text messaging can help keep your customers buying from you, growing your business, and keeping your restaurant running.
Don’t let the restrictions of 2020 keep you from finding a way to stay connected and engaged with your customers. After all, they’re only a single text message away.