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Guest Post: 6 Tips For Creating A Restaurant Business Plan

While a business and marketing plan is a roadmap to getting your restaurant running, it’s important that it also contains a detailed strategy for keeping it afloat.  The marketing section is an often overlooked or simplified component because restaurant owners wrongly assume that if you build it, they will come. Read on for six tips you won’t want to skip before executing your restaurant marketing strategy.  

1. Create a pre-opening plan.

Marketing shouldn’t wait to come into play until after opening day. You should have a strategy to generate buzz way before your doors are opened. Determine what routes you will take to create an interest among community members prior to your launch date. Depending on your budget and your target market, you could go with traditional media and take out some ad space or create contests for free entrees and other rewards driven by your social media pages.

2. Explain how you will form a customer database.

Do not undervalue the power of a customer database. Acquiring the contact information of people that have already visited your restaurant allows you to reach an interested audience every time. Determine ways in which you will gather information and attempt to gain as many details as possible. Direct mail is no longer the only way to reach people. Mobile messaging and email offer simpler and more cost effective ways of alerting your customers about news and promotions.

3. Propose community outreach.

A community is more likely to support a business that supports its community. The name association alone brings an awareness and loyalty that trumps typical advertising. Determine how you will donate your money or services and which charitable or community causes you plan to work with. Include these details in your business plan to show that you are aware of the effect philanthropic involvement has on the success of a business.

4. Set up a system that rewards frequent diners.

A rewards program entices your customers to dine at your restaurant — and dine often. There are many different types of reward systems and benefits for joining, but they all hold the same premise of “give more, get more.” How deeply you indulge in your program is mostly affected by budget; how complicated of a program can you afford to manage and what quantity of rewards can you afford to gift. The most standard frequent diner system, which you see frequently implemented in fast casual restaurants, is a paper punch card that earns you your Xth meal free. Automated rewards systems take frequent dining one step further by calculating dollars spent and turning them into points that can be redeemed for different perks.

5. Build up your professional network.

Make it a point to get to know other business owners regardless of what industry they are in. Every company needs a place to hold parties and a restaurant to cater their meetings. Outline how you will attack these types of opportunities in your business plan, whether by listing networking events you will attend or explaining how you will use LinkedIn and social media to form connections.  Here is a great guide on how to build your personal brand.

6. Execute in house marketing.

Marketing should not be restricted to the time your customer spends away from your business. There are many ways in which you can promote your restaurant inside its very own walls. Keep upcoming events and promotions in the forefront by advertising them with signage or table cards. Acknowledging the ways in which you will communicate with your customer when they are on your premises shows you are taking a full circle approach to your restaurant marketing plan. 

This post was written by Dan Scalco of