How to Shake Things Up When Your Restaurant is Failing

Jessica Elliott

Jessica couples her 24 years of restaurant and hospitality industry experience with meticulous research to deliver insight into technology, operations, and marketing topics. Her optimized copy helps companies engage their audience while strengthening their communication with clients, employees, and management.

If you’ve set yourself up with a solid business plan and prepared your finances for the first year, yet your restaurant is still failing, then speedy action is required. However, don’t throw money at last-ditch efforts without a solid course of action. Instead, analyze data about your menu, operations, and marketing spend. Then use this information to form a strategy that generates income and refocuses your marketing, while enlisting help from industry experts. 

A business sign that says Open on cafe or restaurant hang on door at entrance.

Switch up your marketing strategies

Take a close look at where your marketing dollars go. While access to capital is a prime reason that restaurants fail, how you use that money is a factor as well. Are you reaching your target audience and gaining the attention of local diners? If not, then adjust your strategy with new SMART goals that focus on the right mix of marketing platforms. 

  • Reassess your social media. Social platforms remain the best place to reach new and existing restaurant guests. Review your market research to ensure that you’re using the platforms that your customers use. Then create an editorial calendar with your objectives in mind.
  • Increase outreach for local PR. Complete additional research to locate food bloggers, influencers, and reporters in your area, then work on developing your relationships.
  • Collaborate with local businesses. Strategic partnerships with other companies can double your exposure and introduce your restaurant to a new audience. Consider hosting shared events and cross-promoting on social media.
  • Ramp up your email efforts. Email isn’t dead. If you’ve faltered on your email list, then create promotions to build excitement about your brand.
  • Roll out a new loyalty program. Your loyal customers bring in the majority of your sales. Develop brand ambassadors and gather your loyal following by offering sign-up rewards.
  • Manage your reviews. The Restaurant Success Report finds, “35% of diners said they are influenced by online reviews when choosing a restaurant.” If you’ve ignored bad reviews, then add review management to your restaurant strategy. 

Examine new income streams

If the problem stems from a decline in foot traffic or you don’t sell enough product to earn a profit, then consider shaking things up by adding or updating your various income streams. 

  • Gift cards. Are you doing everything you can to boost your gift card sales? The Blackhawk Network finds, “59% of consumers surveyed usually spend more than the card’s value.” Consider adding a website pop-up a month or so before your slow season hits. 
  • Off-premise dining. Are you losing money on delivery? Make it margin neutral by determining where the loss comes from and negate that with select promotions. Encourage your team to suggest add-ons, like beverages or gift cards, to increase the ticket price. 
  • Events. Do you have space for events during slow times? Promote your availability for baby showers, Fantasy football drafts, or other guest-hosted events. 

Outsource for huge impact

If you’ve made every attempt but still struggle, then it may be time for the help of a professional. After all, a lack of experience contributes to failure rates. However, in today’s gig economy, restaurant owners have access to PR professionals and marketing teams that understand the intricate strategy required for successful restaurants. Get help from trusted industry experts to turn your failing restaurant into a money-maker. Danny Meyer, New York City restaurateur and CEO of the Union Square Hospitality Group, says that “A great restaurant doesn’t distinguish itself by how few mistakes it makes but by how well they handle those mistakes.” Take this advice to heart and shake things up strategically when your restaurant is failing.

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