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Restaurant Marketing with SMS

Before the advent of mobile phones, apps and websites, marketing a foodservice business to local customers would have involved design and printing costs (creating flyers), time (posting said flyers through letterboxes) and the inability to undertake spontaneous promotional activity. Marketing with today’s technology is a whole different ball game that should be grabbed with both hands. Here we look at the power of SMS (Short Message Service) both to spread the word about your establishment and encourage customers – new and old – to choose you as their destination

Mumbai Café, is a popular North Indian restaurant and bar in Newington, Kent with a proactive marketing strategy. Proprietor Kunwar Sood has always understood the importance of marketing in order to grow his client base, but, before he discovered how to work with SMS, was very often too busy with the day-to-day demands of running his restaurant.

It’s all smiles at Mumbai CaféIt’s all smiles at Mumbai Café

“In the hospitality trade we work long, unsociable hours and barely have enough time to sit down, let alone come up with new ideas to market ourselves,” says Kunwar. “I strongly believe that this is where SMS marketing is invaluable. Not only does it come in as cheaper and less time-consuming than other forms of marketing, but it also enables you to communicate with your customers direct to their pockets 24/7.”

Kunwar holds special events for occasions such as Mothers’ Day, Fathers’ Day and Easter. Last year he wanted to boost bookings for Fathers’ Day. He wanted to get a simple message out to all of his subscribers in an instant, with the aim of getting a quick response and to increase bookings for that weekend. He put together a simple message containing all relevant information, the offer, price, contact details and a website link to enhance the content.

The message read: “Father’s Day lunch on Sunday, 6 courses £20 per person. Under 10s Half Price. Call to book, 01795 842540 visit Text STOP to 82228”

The message was sent out to 2505 contacts at 11:20am on the Thursday before Fathers’ Day. By 1:30pm, 90 of the 100 seats in Kunwar’s restaurant were reserved.

Kunwar knows the importance of giving customers the chance to opt out of his marketing, which is another reason why he chose SMS; contacts can be unsubscribed with a simple message making it easy for both business and customer to opt out. Interestingly, of the 2505 the message went out to, retention rate was high with just nine choosing to opt out of future offers.

SMS tips

FireText – an SMS marketing specialist – works with many restaurants across the UK, from small independents to Pizza Hut and Paul Ainsworth’s Michelin starred No.6 restaurant in Padstow. Here FireText offers advice on other ways to harness the power of SMS

Quiet days begone

Although you may have a busy restaurant a lot of the time, everyone has quiet days. You need to give people a reason to come out. In the run-up to Easter, why not try the following: “Hello Hannah! Free Easter egg for every child this weekend at The Riverview Restaurant, call 01234 567890 to book a table.”

Save time and money

At just 4p a message, putting together an SMS campaign is very cost effective. You only pay for the messages sent and – unlike the costly flyers and adverts – it takes just a few minutes to send out a message to your entire database.

Marketing for restaurants

Grow opt-in list

Advertise your keyword on menus, posters and bathroom mirrors (the list is endless) to allow customers to opt in to your mailing list, providing you with a whole host of new contacts and letting your customers do the hard work: “Text RESTAURANT to 82228 for news, promotions and updates.”

Reward regular customers

Try sending a reward message to customers to thank them for their custom and entice them back to your establishment. This will not only increase bookings but will also please customers; encouraging positive reviews spreading through word of mouth.

“Hi Hannah, we hope you enjoyed your visit to The Riverview, we’d love to see you again soon. Enjoy free starters on your next visit when you show this text. Call 01234 567890 to book a table.”

Take/confirm bookings

Many restaurants now take bookings online, giving the customer more flexibility to book a table at their convenience. Why not take it one step further and let them text their reservation? What could be more convenient than sending a quick text – you can even set up an auto reply to get straight back to them.

“Thank you for your reservation this Easter, we look forward to seeing you at The Riverview Restaurant.”

FireText offers both a free trial and a pay-as-you-go pricing structure. For further information visit

Build Your Tribe by Susanne Currid

Build up your SMS customer listBuild up your SMS customer list

It is estimated that there are about 1.15 billion Facebook users and 500 million Twitter users. “With so many people using these platforms to tell their family, friends and the wider internet about their latest food and drink experience, it is becoming even more fundamental to have actions in place for businesses both to be able to tap into these conversations and, crucially, to be aware about what their customers are saying about the experience they are offering,” insists Susanne Currid, author, digital marketing strategist and social media coach.

Build Your Tribe introduces you to the concept of using social media to build your tribe and explains how you can integrate this strategy into your restaurant, bar or café marketing plan.

Published by Panoma Press, available on Amazon

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