How Restaurants Can Benefit from SMS

With a whopping 75 percent of all customers wanting to receive offers via SMS, it really doesn’t take a genius to know what you should be doing – sending your customers a text message of course. And with more and more restaurants popping up every day, it’s more important than ever to get your restaurant at the forefront of customers minds and your name on the tip of their tongues when they are looking for places to eat.

There are lots of different marketing channels that restaurants are using to promote and acquire new customers, from social media, which is great for sharing news, updates and new dishes. However unless the consumer is actually on the social media platform and following you, they won’t see it.

You can use email marketing, but with people getting hundreds of emails a day, they will either go straight to junk, into the promotion tabs that Gmail have, or will be just deleted without even opening it.

You can advertise on billboards, flyers, your own website and other websites, along with TV and radio. But what all these advertising places mean, is that the customer have to be physically doing something to find your advert, and some the prices on these mediums can be very high.

Using SMS marketing means you can send a text message straight to your customers pocket, and with SMS having an open rate of 98 percent, you can almost guarantee every message will get read – 90 percent of those messages are read within three minutes. Not many marketing channels can hold up to those kinds of stats.

There are numerous ways that restaurants can use SMS and below I have added some of the mains ways that you can use SMS for your restaurants. I have even given some example texts, in case you are unsure of how it would come across.

Send Text Messages that Include Special Offers

By sending a personalized SMS message with a great offer on, you can hit people on two fronts. One being the great offer, maybe a percentage off or 2 for 1, and the second being a personalized message. People love receiving offers, but when it is directly addressed to them it feels like the restaurant is talking to them on a personal level and that can make customers feel special and wanted.

The great thing about SMS is that you can send a bulk SMS campaign that does this, include the customers name and even a personalized offer as well. By sending an offer to customers and giving them a time frame to use the offer means you can get bums on seats and even if they can’t use your offer, you are still spreading brand awareness.

“Hi Mike, we are offering a huge discount this weekend – 20 percent off all orders of £30 or more. So why not bring the family and eat some delicious food and save on us”

Remind Customers of their Reservations

A great way of going above and beyond is sending a reminder text message to customers with their reservation details on. By sending a reminder message to customers the day of or the day before, not only makes the customer feel like you are rolling out the red carpet for them, but by giving the customer an opportunity to cancel the booking if they have forgotten or can’t make it anymore.

If a customer does not turn up it can cost restaurants money, as most restaurants will give a 10-15 minute leeway, meaning in this time they could have sat another customer down and served them in that time. The NHS have started sending appointment reminder by SMS and it is thought that they could save around £64 million pounds.

“Hi Jane, thank you for making a booking to eat with us tonight. Just to confirm your table is booked for 7.45pm. If for some reason you cannot make it, please call us on 0123 456 78 90.”

Use SMS for Competitions

Everyone loves a competition, even if it is to just win something small, people love free stuff and what better and easier way to enter a competition than texting. Getting customers to text a word to enter a competition not only means an interaction with your brand but will keep customers happy, and if you do enough competitions you will keep your customers waiting for the next one, again keeping them in touch with your brand.

The great thing about using SMS for competitions is you can advertise it literally anywhere, with just a simple word all the customer needs to do is, text into enter. You can advertise it on your website, in the restaurant, on table mats or coasters, mugs, glasses, basically anywhere you can think of advertising it – because it’s just a small bit of text.

“Text FOOD to 88802 to enter a competition to have a free meal on us”

Use an SMS Loyalty Program

As said above, customers love receiving offers, but receiving offers that are exclusive and not for open to the general public is even better. That is exactly what an SMS loyalty program can give customers, and with 90 percent of users who enroll in an SMS loyalty program feeling that they gained value from it, it really is another great tool to keep your customers happy.

“Thank you for entering our SMS loyalty program, your first of many exclusive offers is a free dessert, and the best thing is, you don’t even need to buy anything to get it, just pop in and show this text message to claim your free dessert on us”

Allow Customer to Text in to Make a Booking

Making it easy for customers to make a table reservation means you are more likely to get booking rather than people just turning up, which is great as you can see how busy you will be. Most restaurants let you call up and make a booking, some allow you to do it online but the next step is allowing someone to text in to make a booking.

Some people don’t like talking on the phone and for those that don’t have a website where people can book a table means they probably won’t book, but letting people text you to make a booking means you don’t have to employee anyone on the phone taking books and it can all be automated.

“Thank you for booking a table tonight, unfortunately we don’t have any tables available at 7.00pm but we do have a table at 6.45 p.m. Reply ‘Yes’ to book the table at 6.45 p.m.”

Use SMS Surveys to Gain Customer Feedback

As all restaurant owners know, improving the dining experience of customers is vital to a growing restaurant and can be the difference between a failed restaurant and a huge chain. Collecting feedback on the customer’s experience is the best way to do this, feedback cards for people to fill in are often longwinded and time consuming so customers would rather not fill them out.

A more advanced way of collecting feedback is by sending customers an SMS survey. This can be sent an hour or a day after they have ate, whichever you find best. This gives the consumer enough time to think about their meal whilst it is still fresh in their mind. With SMS surveys being all done through texts, with only a couple of questions it will on take a minute to collect some feedback.

“Thank you for eating with us yesterday, with your dining experience fresh in your mind, would you mind answer a couple of questions so we can improve our service to you. Reply ‘Yes’ to start the survey”

These are just a few ways that restaurants are already using SMS to ensure their customers are kept happy and keep coming back.

Working with Modern Restaurant Management we are giving you 250 free credits and a completely free SMS marketing account – sign up with Text Marketer and use the Promo Code MODERN and enjoy your free credits.