How to increase customer numbers and better advertise your business?

Joined Sep 26, 2009
I would love to hear some good ideas on the following.

How can I increase customer numbers and avg spend without giving tons of things away for free (two for ones)?
Lots of restaurants and cafes have resorted to giving things away to entice customers in to their business. These consist of 'meal deals', two for ones etc. Now, I don't mind some selective discounting but i'll be buggered if i'll give things away for free!

I want to encourage my students to spend more in our servery, and take 2/3 meals per day in College instead on 1/2.
Although my business is a college, the same rules of marketing and revenue apply, i.e. students pay cash (subsidised 35%) and are free to eat anywhere they choose...

My food blog is one way I advertise the food to students and I also offer larger discounts during selected hours, i.e. weekday breakfast when no one want's to get out of bed!LOL


Joined Sep 8, 2003
I'm very interested in this subject, too.  Recently, I met with a small business admn advisor and he suggested using social media.  You're already doing this with your blog.  I have a student intern who signed me up for Twitter, Facebook, Urban Spoon, Yelp, and some others I can't remember or don't want to..... I get a lot of interest in my facebook page (I have many friends/img/vbsmilies/smilies/crazy.gif)

I do a "buy one, get one for half off" promos on occasion.  I try to cross market by using my big front windows to display for other businesses.  This is actually very selfish; I don't have the money, time, or creativity to change the window displays so I let others do this for me.  I also let local artists use my cafe wall space to display thier art.  Again, selfish; I get free art that changes monthly AND I get new customers because the artists' friends and family now know I exist.  I'm doing a Chili/Chowder Cook-off for charity with the restaruant across the street- more free advertising because I can use the community calendar portion of the paper without paying for an ad.

I'd like to hear what others do.
Joined Feb 8, 2009
I just got back from Mexico, one steak house I went to had a business card with, first round of drinks on the house,or 10% off the total bill. I think its important not to send up red flags, making people think the restaurant is in trouble. When I see 2 for 1 I think the restaurant can't fill the dining room unless they give people a bargain. I think its a trick to figure out a way to do this, not every idea will fit every restaurant. ......................Chef Bill
Joined Dec 4, 2009
I'm not a believer in paid advertising and I think giving things away arbitrarily (2'fers) doesn't do much either.

I am a big believer in word of mouth.

There's a gazillion websites that have their versions of word-of-mouth advertising but I find it boils down to three things:

1.  Be your best.  And continually best that.  Sittin' on laurels doesn't do it.

2.  Clarify and enhance your identity.  What do you stand for?  Best value, innovation, customer intimacy?  You can't just be another steakhouse, cafeteria, burger joint.  And there's no such thing as "the best" of anything.

3.  Start a buzz.  Events, websites, blogs, you name it.  Play on and play up your identity.

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