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May 28, 2014 6:08 PM   Subscribe

A restaurant in my town is closing down for 2 months. Our facility (1 lunch outlet, 3 dinner outlets) desperately wants to pick up the bulk of their business. But how? More below the fold...

Our market is small - saying that there are 20 restaurants of remotely similar caliber open for lunch/dinner would be a stretch. One of our direct competitors will be closing down for about 2 months to renovate. We aren't sure how to market our property to best capture their lunch and dinner business. None of our outlets are chains, like the casual steakhouse that will be closing down. Our outlets consist of a casual dining restaurant (lunch/dinner), a sports bar with entertainment on weekends (dinner), and a fine dining steakhouse (dinner).
posted by kpetrich to Grab Bag (5 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Offer some kind of deal (free appetizer?) to anyone who can bring in a bill from the last 30 days from the closing restaurant?
posted by jacquilynne at 6:20 PM on May 28, 2014

I was one of those customers you're looking to "capture." When my favorite breakfast restaurant closed down for a couple of weeks, what could have directed my custom to one particular other venue would have been (a) that venue's very directly entering my mindspace at an opportune moment-- like, conspicuous advertising for it in a place very near the old restaurant (I did a lot of drivebys to check on reopening status); (b) clear directions/location mentioned to funnel me toward the new spot; and (c) some sort of token financial incentive, like jacquilynne mentions.

What would have kept my business would have been finding that the new place offered a comparable experience for lower prices, or with more personalized/friendly service. As it was, I just bounced around equivalent venues for a while, then drifted back to the old restaurant once it reopened.
posted by Bardolph at 7:18 PM on May 28, 2014 [6 favorites]

What are you doing now to make yourself known in the community? Are you on Facebook or Twitter? We patronize locally-owned restaurants in rotation and all of them are on social media. My twitter feed at the moment is full of restaurants telling me to come drink pink wine on the roof tonight.

Do you already offer any coupons or promotions or special deals on certain days? These may not make a difference in the next two months but perhaps you could combine them more aggressively at this moment. What finally prompted me to visit a restaurant that had already been open for a year was that they offered a cooking demo one night. The food was really good and now I go regularly even though the service is bumpy.
posted by BibiRose at 6:22 AM on May 29, 2014

In addition to social media and signs located near the old restaurant, I'd also look into advertising in whatever local weekly paper your area has. The DingoWife and I use ours as a primary resource for figuring out stuff to do around town, and have discovered a number of good restaurants thanks to their City Paper ads.
posted by DingoMutt at 7:00 AM on May 29, 2014

What is your competitor known for doing right, or specializing in? Quick turn-around lunches for professionals? Upscale dining? Quick take-out dinners for families, etc? When you reach out to the neighbors, try to highlight the things you are doing similarly (even though you have your own spin on it).

What do their Yelp reviews look like? Again, try to highlight what you're doing similarly that's being praised, and what you're doing differently that their customers have criticized.

Are you friendly with them in a professional way, i.e., do you interact with them at the Chamber of Commerce or in some other professional way? If so, could you have a general conversation about how your advertising is going, and how their advertising is going? Maybe ask them if they are having luck with *localpaper* or some other service? You need to know where they are advertising in order to reach their customers.
posted by vignettist at 10:34 AM on May 29, 2014

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