#1 Marketing Tip for New Restaurants

by Halisi

I worked for a major restaurant chain that believed the lifelong success of any particular location was based upon the sales numbers from their first few weeks of opening.  Consequently, they put a lot of money in publicizing the first day the restaurant opens it doors.  What happened in most cases was a complete disaster.

#1 Marketing Tip for New Restaurants: NEVER let the first day that you open your doors be your Grand Opening!

One of my newest clients is a small cafe that sells coffees, gourmet sandwiches, and snacks.  The Executive from the company that is funding the cafe started pushing me 2 weeks prior to opening to roll out our Grand Opening strategy.  I’ve been pushing back with all I have.  He appears to be so avid in just checking this project of his list that he’s not dotting the I’s or crossing the T’s.  The manager who is running the cafe has virtually no experience running a business.  She has never taken inventory, run a cash register, or opened an Excel spreadsheet!  Before hiring me their plan was to buy pizza at the local pizzeria and resell it…no joke!  I pushed for selling Udi’s Handcrafted sandwiches – which is more in line with the word “cafe”.  Also, I recommended a soft opening.  We let people know we’re open but we didn’t do any advertising.  The result was a small steady stream of people affiliated with the owners or the family running the cafe.

In the past week, we’ve been able to adjust the menu, eliminate some items, take suggestions, rework the operational flow “backstage”, and find out how much the manager still has to learn.  Basically we’re working out the kinks and bugs on a very forgiving customer base.

We get ONE opportunity to make a good first impression.  Don’t mess yours up by bringing in the majority of your customer base on the first day you open your doors.  You may never get some of those customers back again!


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