Seven Strategies to Increase Your Restaurants Traffic and Profitability in 2012

Seven Strategies to Increase Your Restaurants Traffic and Profitability in 2012

Joe Welsh – CORE Restaurant Marketing


As 2011 comes to a close, it is time to think about your marketing plan for 2012. Have you considered how you are going to increase traffic and improve the profitability of your restaurant next year?

One strategy could be the method of working closely with your food distributor to reduce cost. While this practice is important, for the average restaurant the return is about fifteen thousand dollars in a year.  Another strategy that I feel deserves attention and action is building your top line revenue by increasing traffic. For the average restaurant, there are seven proven strategies which have the potential to generate over one hundred and fifty thousand dollars in sales.

There are seven strategies I would recommend to any restaurant looking to increase traffic and profits. Some are will yield benefits faster than others, but in combination they will produce results that will make 2012 a great year. Outlined below is a listing of the seven strategies:

  1. Local Search Visibility. Google, the leading search engine has made available websites for local restaurants where the can post information, pictures and videos for their restaurant. This service is free and will improve your local search visibility. While there are six primary search engines, there are over one hundred and fifty additional search engines that need to know that your restaurant exists. These search engines range from Citysearch to the GPS system in your car. Does your restaurant show up on your GPS? You may be surprised.
  2. Get involved with Social Media. Social media has become the “New” word of mouth marketing tool to help drive traffic. Services such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube are changing the marketing landscape in how you find new customers and interact with them on a daily basis. Yes, you can put a dollar sign on the traffic it drives in and what it means to your restaurant. They key is to build your following and engage with your customers. The viral marketing strategy will take hold as more people see your post of happy customers, beautiful food images and promotional messages. “Follow us on Facebook” needs to be part of your marketing message in 2012.
  3. Direct Mail of Takeout Menus. Takeout menus are an important part of the overall marketing mix, but getting them into consumer’s homes is critical. Letting potential customers know what is on your menu, and item pricing is a great way to bring in new customers.  Best of all, postage on a Takeout menu is the same as a large postcard. Why not get your entire menu in front of customers who may have never entered your restaurant?
  4. Utilize email Marketing. Let’s face it, more consumers are reading their email at home, work or on the smartphone. Technology has opened up ways to communicate with your loyal customers in a cost effective manner that delivers results. The key to success is to utilize your servers as your internal marketing department to help you build your database. The larger the database, the larger the potential revenue gains from email marketing. Why not take advantage of this opportunity, your competition certainly is.
  5. Community Fundraising Programs. Tapping into the power of your community is a great way to generate new customers, retain your best customers and provide a valuable role in your community. Consumer studies have indicated that consumers will support restaurants that support the local community. This proven strategy is a great way to increase customer visits and check averages. Combining this approach with email marketing provides the marketing punch that will keep your restaurant top of mind in 2012.
  6. The Guest Experience.  Marketing within your four walls is a key ingredient to increasing customer visits and referrals to help your business grow. These marketing techniques utilize all of your employees to create the perfect guest experience that has your customers generating referrals for your business. Effective server training programs, perfectly prepared food, unique signature items and a measurement system of customer comments will help you build the perfect guest experience. The payoff for all of this hard work will result in loyal customers who tell their friends and drive traffic to your restaurant. 
  7. Your menu drives profitability. If you have done an effective job at driving traffic into your restaurant, you want to be sure that your menu is designed to be profitable. Over the past two years rising commodity cost have impacted the bottom line of all restaurants for the largest chains to the single independent. Have you adjusted your menu to reflect these rising cost? Most all of the chains have in order to maintain profitability. A menu engineering analysis is a great way to identify your most profitable items and assess the impact of pricing changes. Once the analysis is completed, taking this information and using design techniques to enhance your profitable items is the next step in building your bottom line. These steps can improve the profitability of your menu by as much as 15%. When was the last time you updated your menu?

While these are great ideas, the question remains, what will these tactics mean to mean to me financially and how do I get it all done with the limited amount of time and resources you have.  Often, engaging with an outside agency can yield results that are well worth the investment. It does not cost anything to review your options and learn what the possibilities are.


Joe Welsh is a partner in CORE Restaurant Marketing a national restaurant marketing agency based in Pennsylvania. Our mission is to bring the best service providers to our clients to help them gain new customers, enhance loyalty, and increase bottom line sales and profitability of their restaurant.


Views: 3751

Tags: community, engineering, fundraising, marketing, media, menu, restaurant, social


You need to be a member of FohBoh to add comments!

Join FohBoh

Comment by Paul Letendre on January 13, 2012 at 10:16am

Just did a re-read.  Still good stuff, if you read my posts and blog, you'll know that I think 6 is the most crucial.


Comment by Joe Welsh on December 8, 2011 at 1:46pm

Michele, Its not just design that enhances profitability, there is the menu engineering that goes behind it to identify profitable items as well as identify the dog items. When this information is gathered, it is then used as the foundation for the design techniques that are used to boost profitability.

Comment by Michele Wagaman on December 8, 2011 at 11:22am

This is a great post. I have to say #2 and #7 are the most important in my opinion. 

Social media, is a must! If you're not already in social media, you're behind the game, and that's not good for business. 

Menu is design is also very crucial.  A menu should be laid out in the way that the viewer's eyes go directly to the most profitable items.  It can't be too busy that it's confusing, but not too plain that is all meshes together.  PR professionals use an acronym "CRAP" when designing flyers, brochures, business cards, menus, etc.  C-Contrast, R-Repetition, A-Alignment, and P-Proximity.  These guidelines should be used when designing anything for a professional setting. 

Comment by Jammie Mountz on December 8, 2011 at 9:45am

That's a fantastic example, Martin.  Sounding genuine and personal is a hurdle for any mass campaign, and Nick's certainly did that.  Thank you for sharing the info!

Comment by Martin Szalay on December 8, 2011 at 9:19am

Regarding #4…  I agree with Jammie on the Spam.  However I wouldn’t completely discount the email campaign just yet.

Case Study:  Nick’s Pizza – Crystal Lake, IL

On 9/27 at 2:29 PM I received an email, “Subject:  Nick's Pizza & Pub: An uncertain future.” 
Due to the economy and a double whammy on road construction, his business was hurting…  Very badly.  His email was a no nonsense plea with his customer base asking them to please come visit and help him keep his 2 restaurants open by reaching a certain goal. 

Now an e-mail like this is risky and unorthodox, to say the least.  But, along with 16,000 others that received it, I sent it on.  Apparently so many of us had sent it to so many others; Nick’s impassioned email received substancial national media attention.  Needless to say, his existing customers came back in droves bringing many new customers and is successfully reaching his goals.

I keep hearing about Social Media with regards to this, but that is a misnomer.  It was not.  It was purely an Email Campaign.  In fact the “Save Nick’s” Facebook Campaign only has 256 followers.

What no one seems to talk about is… You need those names to begin with.  Even if it is to invite customers to join their Facebook page or follow on Twitter, and Nick was ready to go.  You see, over the past 3 years Nick’s Pizza had been harvesting names and emails as part of an incentive via a “Nick’s Card” discount.  Simple enough; 1-Register and get a Card with a happy Moose on it, 2-Get points per dollar, 3-Reach 300 points, 4-Get free pizza. 

What have I learned?

This is surely a case where preparation meets opportunity.  Don’t wait until you you’re in a pinch or have something to launch.  Start harvesting those names today when the opportunity arises you will have those names at your disposal to disseminate you message.  Maybe even inviting them to Facebook or as a Twitter follower where they can receive greater incentives, savings or invitations.

Post Game Analysis:   “WIN!” 

Point is:  Email, can still be very effective when executed properly and sparingly.

Comment by Brian (Restaurant Engine) on December 7, 2011 at 6:02pm
Good list, but I would add having a strong mobile site. Super important to help convert local search traffic coming from mobile devices (iphones, ipads, etc.).

Comment by Joe Welsh on December 7, 2011 at 5:47pm

Good points Jammie.

Comment by Jammie Mountz on December 2, 2011 at 12:03pm

As someone who works within the marketing industry, I'm always disappointed when a restaurant doesn't have a twitter.  It's a great way for guests to feel heard, and more importantly, for people like me to know what's going on with your restaurant and promote it if it's applicable to what I'm trying to promote.  Twitter campaigns and Facebook coupon interaction (like what Lean Cuisine did with a coupon that got more valuable the more people gave them Facebook "likes") are more important than email campaigns, I'd argue.  In my experience, people are much more likely to interact with brands via social networking than opening up "spam."




Social Wine Club for Craft Wineries


Report: Consumers want more protein, need more education

A majority of U.S.  -More

California Walnut Beet Carpaccio Flatbread
Jump start their appetites with this fabulous flatbread appetizer topped with beets, goat cheese, arugula and California Walnuts. For this and more great recipes, visit

Vegetables take over dessert menus

Top pastry chefs in the U.S.  -More

Rising takeout demand drives new Mama Fu's footprint

Austin, Texas-based Mama Fu's Asian House debuted a smaller footprint unit focused on feeding a growing demand for takeout an -More


Posting a job or finding a job starts here at FohBoh. Call us about special $25 posting packages to syndicate across all major jobs boards.

National News

Souplantation & Sweet Tomatoes Certified As Nation's Largest 'Green' Restaurant Chain

National Group Salutes Country's Only Large Restaurant Group to be 'Certified Green Restaurants®'

National Restaurant Association and EatStreet Release Online Ordering Guide

The National Restaurant Association and EatStreet have released a free educational guide focusing on online ordering and emerging restaurant technology trends.

Boyd's Coffee Launches Single-Cup Coffees For Retail And Foodservice

The coffees come in a variety of roast levels and include organic and Rainforest Alliance Certified™ options: French No. 6®, Red Wagon® Organic Coffee, Good Morning™, Hi-Rev® (delivers more caffeine), and Lost Lake™ Decaf Organic Coffee.

Arby's Announces Development Deals With New And Existing Franchisees

ARG recently sold 14 company-operated restaurants in Tampa, FL to Mosaic Investments, Inc. (Mosaic), a fully integrated investment firm based in Atlanta. In addition to remodeling existing locations slated to commence at the end of 2014, Mosaic has committed to build 13 new Arby's restaurants in the Tampa area over the next nine years.

Smoothie King Appoints Vice President Of Business Development To Drive Brand's Expansion Across The U.S.

Prior to joining Smoothie King, Bruno served as vice president of retail sales, operations and franchise development for Fannie May Fine Chocolates, a division of, where he oversaw a $69.5 million retail division that included 100 corporate stores and 45 franchised stores.


If you are looking for capital to start or grow your restaurant, create the next 501c3, develop and launch the next app for the restaurant industry,or want to help your peers in some meaningful way, we want to know about it.


TED: Michel Laberge: How synchronized hammer strikes could generate nuclear fusion - Michel Laberge (2014)

Our energy future depends on nuclear fusion, says Michel Laberge. The plasma physicist runs a small company with a big idea for a new type of nuclear reactor that could produce clean, cheap energy. His secret recipe? High speeds, scorching temperatures and crushing pressure. In this hopeful talk, he explains how nuclear fusion might be just around the corner.

TED: Sarah Lewis: Embrace the near win - Sarah Lewis (2014)

At her first museum job, art historian Sarah Lewis noticed something important about an artist she was studying: Not every artwork was a total masterpiece. She asks us to consider the role of the almost-failure, the near win, in our own lives. In our pursuit of success and mastery, is it actually our near wins that push us forward?

TED: Matthew Carter: My life in typefaces - Matthew Carter (2014)

Pick up a book, magazine or screen, and more than likely you'll come across some typography designed by Matthew Carter. In this charming talk, the man behind typefaces such as Verdana, Georgia and Bell Centennial (designed just for phone books -- remember them?), takes us on a spin through a career focused on the very last pixel of each letter of a font.

TED: Jeremy Kasdin: The flower-shaped starshade that might help us detect Earth-like planets - Jeremy Kasdin (2014)

Astronomers believe that every star in the galaxy has a planet, one fifth of which might harbor life. Only we haven't seen any of them -- yet. Jeremy Kasdin and his team are looking to change that with the design and engineering of an extraordinary piece of equipment: a flower petal-shaped "starshade" positioned 50,000 km from a telescope to enable imaging of planets about distant stars. It is, he says, the "coolest possible science."

© 2014   Created by FohBoh.

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service